The dogs are headed to Nome.
They took off from Fourth Avenue in the
Ceremonial Start in Anchorage on the first Saturday in March.
Today they will do the actual race start in Willow.
And then the race is on!
Thursday was the Start Banquet where they drew for bib numbers.
The bib number tells them the order in which they will
leave the chute.
The mushers arrive in Anchorage with all of their gear.
At the start they often use two sleds to create more drag
as they run down the busy street.
Passenger rides can also be purchased or donated for the ride from the chute.
Each musher must start with a basic list of necessities for their run.
Snowshoes are one of the requirements for all teams-the musher below has theirs already
strapped to the sled.
When they arrive in Nome every team
must still have all of their equipment found on
the check list.
It is interesting to note that at least half of the mushers expected to be
contenders for the top 10 finishers are over 50 years old.
What a diverse group will be starting this year..check them out here.
I think to take the Iditarod challenge any musher must have a lot of
"get up and go" in them!
As I was flying on the jet I noticed how little snow there is
between Anchorage and Nome.
The trail breakers are predicting a fast, hard-packed trail.
It could be a record-breaking year.
Mother Nature could change all of that .... as she has in the past!
Much of the trail is run on the rivers,
but other parts are through trees and over steep inclines.
The racers say it is a whole new race when they hit the coast!
Their prearranged drops usually include a new sled which is a style
more suitable for the coastal terrain.
Once the race is over the dogs have to get back home.
Most of them will
leave Nome in an igloo (yes, this is a real one!)..
and be loaded onto the jet for a more relaxing ride back to Anchorage.
Hopefully the dogs and mushers will be able to relive wonderful memories of a great race
as they sit back and let the pilots do the driving.....