March, 2007Iditarod

 

This years Iditarod was as exciting as ever, and Cecelia and I volunteered again as dog handlers for the start of the race.

 

The weather worked out well, sunny and temps in the teens.Thatís warmer then the dogs like, but just about right for me and the 4 layers of clothes I had on.The starting line is down on a frozen lake, so it can turn out cold and windy, with wicked wind chills.

 

As dog handlers, weíre responsible for helping the mushers get from the staging area to the starting line, which means walking or running with 16 dogs for up to a quarter mile.Some of the teams we worked with had more handlers than dogs, and we still all got pulled along, just barely in control!

 

We were lucky to get picked to work with Doug Swingley, a 4 time Iditarod winner.Most of the big time winners have their own handlers, but Doug is from Outside (Montana) and so didnít have his own crew with him.

 

Unfortunately, Doug, and almost a quarter of the other 82 mushers, scratched.The trail was truly brutal this year, more so than usual, with cold, winds and ice.

 

The race was won by Lance Mackey, his first win, beating out 4 other mushers that had won the Iditarod 4 or 5 times each.What was even more amazing was that he had also ran and won the Yukon Quest, a 1200 mile race from the Yukon Territory to Fairbanks, Alaska, just 10 days before starting out on the Iditarod!Most folks said it couldnít be done, but heís the first musher to win both races in the same year.

 

This was my 4th year as a volunteer, and Ceceliaís 3ed. Itís always fun to be around the dogs and mushers, and to help out on a classic Alaskan adventure!