Early today mushers began showing up at Iditarod Headquarters
in Wasilla for final vet checks of their teams. Bloodwork, EKG's,
chip reading, temperature reading, and
examinations of every toe pad, joint, tooth and eye happened during
this extensive pre-race check-up. Mushers brought all dogs that
may be on their team for this appointment. Sixteen will make the
final cut for most mushers, and sometimes that is not decided until
the morning of the Restart.
Quite a crowd gathered around G.B. Jones truck as he posed for
photos and signed race programs. Joe Garnie was there as were Jason
Mackey, Ben Stamm, Sue Allen, Peter Bartlett, Cindy Gallea, Dennis
Kananowicz, Frank Silher and Ararad Khatchikian. Others came later
in the day after we had left to go to the Media Briefing in Anchorage.
The Media meeting was an informative gathering for
photographers, reporters and free lance journalists from around
the world. The major sponsors of the race such as Cabelas and Wells
Fargo spoke to the group as did the Race Manager, Jack Niggemeyer,
Race Marshall, Mark Nordman, Executive Director, Stan Hooley and
Race Director Joanne Potts. Statistics were given as to how much
effort has gone into getting the race organized to this point. 13,500
small wooden laths were place along the 1151-mile route; 10,800
feet of survey tape has been used to mark trail; 90 tons of dog
food has been shipped; $32,000 in postage has been spent and approximately
25,000 cups of coffee were consumed while making the race come together.
Officials discussed their having to be "nimble and reacting
to Mother Nature as they needed to" this year while watching
what seemed to be a perfect snow year deteriorate in the last couple
of weeks enough to force moving the restart and cutting the ceremonial
start short. This year the mushers will again take out at Campbell
Airstrip on Saturday instead of going on to the Eagle River checkpoint.
This year's race will have a record number of starters. Seventy
men and seventeen women who compete on equal terms. There are five
former champions entered : Rick Swenson (5X), Martin Buser (4X),
Doug Swingley (4X), Jeff King (3X) and Rick Mackey (1X). There looks
to be quite a competitive bunch heading up the trail to Nome. There
are new sled designs, new gangline arrangements, and other little
tricks that could make an impact on how the race is run this year.
It should be quite exciting!!
After the briefing, Bill and I attended a make-up Rotary meeting
with the Anchorage Midtown
Club at 6PM. Former Mayor of Nome, Leo Rasmussen, attended with
us. One of the members was a former Boy Scout Executive so I discussed
with him my work on a proposed BSA Dog Mushing Merit Badge. As the
meeting broke up, the reception and dinner for musher John Baker
was taking place in the ballroom next door. We stopped in to visit
with friends from previous races and wish John Baker good luck.
John does school appearances in Native villages all over the North
Slope giving kids a good role model and hero to follow in the race.
Other mushers were there such as John Barron, Bill Cotter, Dean
Osmar, Tim Osmar, and Paul Gebhardt. As we left the Millenium Hotel,
snow was falling briskly and making the roads quite slippery as
we headed back to Wasilla.