There’s a whole lot of harness-banging going on in Anchorage, Alaska today. I’m at the March 6th ceremonial start of the 2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race – the Last Great Race – taking place across the Alaskan wilderness.
MUSHERS FROM NEAR AND FAR
Dog mushers come from as near as Willow, Alaska and as far as Aberdeen, Scotland and St. Anne, Jamaica to compete in this 1,049 mile Iditarod sled dog race to Nome, Alaska. Seventy one mushers will guide their Iditarod sled dogs as they manuever over Rainy Pass, the highest point on the trail, through bumpy Nikolai, and over frozen tundra, eventually reaching Nome, Alaska.
Quick Iditarod sled dog mushers are rewarded in Cripple, an abandoned mining town and the race’s halfway point. The first musher to Cripple is rewarded with a $3,000 check.
CHICAGO MUSHER COPES WITH CANCER
Chicago Musher Pat Moon has been dealing with more than logistical problems as he tackles this Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Moon, 33, has been fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood malignancy. Iditarod Update: Unfortunately, Moon crashed into a tree on Tuesday while navigating a gorge and had to be dropped from the race.
Another rookie musher, Newton Marshall of Jamaica, will have to cope with drastic Alaska weather conditions during the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Unlike his native Jamaica, hurricane-velocity winds and blizzards are common as the trail crosses Norton Sound to Koyuk.
WHO WILL WIN 2010 IDITAROD SLED DOG RACE?
Who will be the first to cross the finish line in Nome, Alaska to win the Iditarod sled dog race? Will it be Alaska’s Jeff King? The 54-year-old King, a four-time champion, hopes to end his Iditarod career with a bang. I certainly remember holding puppies at his Husky Homestead Tour in Denali Park.
What about Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, Alaska? Mackey hopes to win his fourth straight Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Update: Mackey won his fourth consecutive Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
Let’s not forget about DeeDee Jonrowe, a breast cancer survivor, Jonrowe started the 2003 Iditarod Sled Dog Race just three weeks after finishing chemotherapy.
Young musher Dallas Seavey, 22 of Seward, hopes to follow father Mitch Seavey, the 2004 Iditarod Sled Dog Race champion, in bringing home the title.
On the other end of the age spectrum, Chuglak’s Jim Lanier, at 69 years of age, will be singing to his sled dogs as he races the Iditarod. Lanier, along with his wife and son, serenaded us at the Iditarod Sled Dog Musher’s Banquet with their beautiful voices. Is that what keeps his dog’s running?
Finally, four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake, Alaska, holds the Iditarod Sled Dog Race record of eight days, 22 hours and 46 minutes.
Who is your favorite to win the 2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race? What are your favorite things to do in Anchorage, Alaska?
Photos and video by Nancy D. Brown