race participants gathered at the Musher Meeting held at the Millennium
Hotel today. This
is where trail conditions were discussed in detail and all rules reviewed
with the mushers. The mushers also had lunch with their IditaRiders.
We were still on our way into to town while this was going on. It
snowed all night last night and the roads were very slick. We saw
seven cars in the ditch and two of those were belly-up. We also spotted
a group of four moose in the Palmer Hay Flats, which were very close
to the road, enough for us to pull over and take a few snapshots.
After the Musher meeting we met some more ladies from Georgia who
were on their first ever
Iditarod visit. We helped them round up tickets for the banquet
tonight. A brief stop at REI and Fred Meyer were the only break
in the action as the Banquet crowd started gathering about 6pm at
the Sullivan Arena. With a record number of mushers on tap to draw
their bib numbers, everyone expected to be there a very long while.
Actually many mushers, rather than thanking every single sponsor,
simply walked briskly by the microphone and gave a quick one word,
“Thanks!!” This drew loud applause, as everyone wanted
to move through the list quickly and get home to get some rest.
Others did give longer talks and Jeff King gave his speech
in the form of a catchy little poem. Jeff drew number 13, which
is said to be the winningest bib number in the race. Judy Merritt
who has the Cool Dreams dogs will be bib number 10 on Saturday morning.
By drawing #10, Judy will have to stay 26 hours and 36 minutes for
her 24hour layover. Last bib to draw was Vern Halter who’ll
go out of the chute first behind the honorary musher, Terry Adkins.
The full line up will be in the Anchorage Daily News, so please
click on the link and find your favorite musher. Earlier in the
evening, G.B. Jones and Perry Solomonson each won a chain saw and
thousand-dollar gift certificate from Cabela’s. We saw lots
of friends from over the years of being Iditarod volunteers which
is one of the great things about coming back each year for the race.
The festivities ended about 11:30 and the drive home was again very