Brenda's 2003 Daily Iditarod Coverage
Countdown to Iditarod 2003 Restart — Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
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March 16 , 2004

Mitch Seavey, Iditarod Champion 2004

Last night we paid a late visit to the checkpoint to use the high-speed connection and got there just in time to watch Rick Casillo pull in. He was looking good and his dogs were very spirited as they planned an eight-hour stay. Mark Moderow and Jim Connor were in the community hall about to grab a few hours sleep before their planned take-off at 4:00AM. Jim was a bit nervous, “on pins and needles,” as he put it but he was really doing okay as a rookie. Mark was talkative and a couple of other mushers were asleep nearby.

Today we spent a few hours with the Day family as we decided just what to do about flying in the weather. The prediction was not good up towards Nome. Mitch Seavey, Jeff King or Backen may be pulling under the burled arch without us, darn it. Snow was falling gently outside the Day’s big picture window and as time passed, it snowed harder and harder. Later in the day we went down to see which mushers were in. Five were parked in Kaltag for a rest. These were Harmony Barron, Bennie Stamm, Jacob Lysyshyn, Matt Weik and Cliff Wang.

One of Cliff’s dogs had to be flown out regardless of the weather but the dog was much improved by the time we spoke to the veterinarians. Harmony’s dogs were perky and her wheel dogs up playing with each other. She let some of the village kids help her give the dogs snacks. Bennie’s dogs, including Chubby, were napping while listening to Bob Seger over his MP3 speakers. Matt Weik was inside sleeping. Cliff and Jacob were comparing notes on just what else could be eliminated from their sleds to trim down on weight. After evaluating pretty much each item, they decided there was nothing they could leave out. Cliff showed us his bruised side from a wreck on the Happy River Steps. The activity was sort of slow while the mushers waited on their dogs to complete their rest. The five who were here today gradually massaged, bootied, encouraged and got their dogs up and about. Approximately 6:30PM, they each pulled the hook and trotted out of Kaltag. Bennie’s dogs were a bit reluctant to leave. He stopped and switched leaders several times as the other four teams passed by. A smile crossed my face when I realized they were parked by the town’s fire hydrant. Maybe that was the problem.

After dinner, we watched the evening news on TV in hopes of seeing the live finish of the race and checked online updates ourselves. It was interesting to note that Mitch Seavey lost a bit of time when he took a wrong trail out of Golovin. The Iditarod trail markers looked a bit different this year and in the dark, wee hours, Mitch backtracked all the way to town, losing about 52 minutes of his nice lead, to be sure he was headed the right way. Charlie Boulding lost a chunk of time when he pulled over at a one-room shelter cabin outside of Elim, found it warm inside and collapsed for an unplanned two and a half hour nap. Ed Iten pulled ahead of Boulding with 13 dogs and Ramey Smyth, know for his speed near race end, was also in contention with the front-runners. This is the first time in years the Iditarod has been quite this close and so exciting.

We can only imagine the excitement under the burled arch in Nome tonight as Mitch pulled under this historic monument in first place!! Mitch’s wife, Janine, had to be overjoyed as I’m sure were his parents, Dan and Shirley, along with his sons, Tyrell, Danny, Dallas and Conway. But for the weather, we would’ve been there to cheer Mitch on his well-deserved victory. Let’s not forget that even though the race is now won, it is not over for the many others out on the trail, struggling to finish the last great race on their own terms.

Around 10:00 the checkers let us know that Sue Allen had pulled in and was closely followed by another team, which turned out to be James Warren. Sue was looking great, in high spirits and her dogs were awesome. They were up, playing and wanting to eat right away. A few minutes later, Perry Solmonson and Steve Madsen cruised into Kaltag. Steve still had all 16 dogs even though one had ridden in the basket most of the day. The veterinarians were examining his team as we hopped on our borrowed snowmachine to get back to the house.

Follow the Action Here: Our good friend's at Cabela's Current Stats and Iditarod's Current Standings. Be sure to look at the "update time" on each. Sometimes one is more timely than the other.

See the

Cool Dreams Photos Page

for more 2004 Iditarod Photos


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Iditarod FINISH LINE (View One)
Iditarod FINISH LINE (View Two)
Iditarod FINISH LINE (View Three)

Town of Galena, AK