And they're off! Saturday, March 6, 2010 marked the beginning of the 38th Iditarod. As many of you know, the Iditarod is the annual sled dog race to commemorate the Serum run to Nome.
A little background history: The original Iditarod trail begins in Seward, AK. However, due to several geological and financial challenges, the ceremonial race start is in Anchorage, AK and the official race start (which begins today, March 7) is in Willow, AK. When the official start was in Anchorage, mushers would race through town and out to Eagle River, AK. Upon arriving in Eagle River, the mushers would pack up their dogs & sleds & drive northwest to Wasilla, AK to continue on to Nome. I can remember going out to watch the teams leave Wasilla when I lived there during high school. Several years ago, the Iditarod Race Committee decided to make the start in Anchorage a ceremonial start. This was nice as it allows the mushers a more relaxed start & gives spectators a chance to interact with the mushers. For example, one neighborhood in town passes out muffins to the mushers as they pass on by. In fact, one of the mushers, Canadian Karen Ramstead actually stopped to sing "O, Canada" with the spectators. When Martin Buser, a perennial favorite and local mushing celebrity, passed us - he gave my oldest son a "high five". Never during an official start would mushers take the time to do that. The ceremonial start through Anchorage provides the spectators a chance to see the dog teams up close and allows the mushers to get one more good nights' rest before heading out on the trail. A win-win for everyone!
Another Alaskan celeb = DeeDee Jonrowe comes down the trail. What a tough lady! Like me, she was a military brat & came to Alaska when her father was stationed here. If I remember correctly, she also lived in Okinawa, Japan during Jr. High - just like I did! She is a breast cancer survivor & has come oh-so-close to winning the Iditarod with a 2nd place finish back in 1998. She is quite the inspiration to all women. Her mother is now battling cancer while DeeDee is on the trail - please send good wishes to both of these strong women!
The Anchorage Daily News prints an insert with photos and bios of all mushers. Here the boys are trying to figure out who's coming down the trail next.
Fun Times! For more great photos - including one of Karen Ramstead singing with the crowd, visit AK Knitting Diva's Blog!
For those of you who are so inclined, there is a group on Ravelry hosting an "Iknitarod" - knit a project while the mushers are on the trail, before the last musher arrives in Nome. I think I'll be a casual participant - I don't know if my wrists are quite up to the challenge after the crazy knitting during the Olympics.
Happy Trails! Ciao~