Monday, March 09, 2009

Iditarod Fever!

Saturday was the start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. I don’t ever remember being into the Iditarod when I was growing up here. I remember when Susan Butcher was winning and some of the other big names, but we didn’t follow it. Then we moved back to Alaska. In 2006, I took our two oldest, Will and Gwen, downtown to see the start of the Iditarod race. I don’t even remember why we went. It was probably just something to do on a Saturday morning or to give Rebecca a break. Either, way I packed up the kids and a stroller. I was surprised by how exciting it was to see the dogs and the mushers get ready. It really is the dogs that set the tone. They are all riled up, barking and pulling at their traces. The kids loved seeing all those dogs and the sleds. There is just something really fun about dog mushing.

While we were watching a musher prep her dogs--she was putting booties on the dogs’ feet--she started talking to Gwen who was sitting in her stroller. Gwen was really cute and chatty. When she was done she handed Gwen one of the doggie booties and told her it had been on the Iditarod trail. Gwen clutched that bootie the rest of the day. She was really proud of it when she showed it to Rebecca.

For the past three years, we have tried to go the Iditarod start, but for one reason or another we never did. This year we put it on the calendar in advance and kept the day open. Last Friday night, I brought home a huge map of the Iditarod Trail. That night we each picked a musher.

I chose Ed Iten of Kotzebue, AK. I met him this summer in Selawik. I got to know him a little and he is a really nice guy.

Rebecca chose Sven Haltmann of Willow, AK. She liked his name and the fact that he was from Willow.

When William was asked who he wanted he shouted Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, AK. He is the Tiger Woods of sled dog racing. No really, he is.

It came as no surprise to us that Gwenna chose DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow, AK. She is the top female competitor and one of the most well known mushers. She also seems to like pink a lot. It was an easy sell for Gwenna.

Benjamin chose Ray Redington Jr. of Wasilla, AK. Ben picked him because as Ben put it he is the son (actually grandson), of the King of the Iditarod.

Timothy chose Rick Larson of Montana. It was a tough pick for our four-year-old, with several other mushers being picked then dropped.

Xianli chose Judy Currier of Fairbanks, AK because I have worked with her husband. He races in even years.

Ransom, at six months, played it safe and went with Martin Buser of Big Lake, AK who holds the current record for the fastest Iditarod run ever.

So once we picked our mushers, we headed off to the race on Saturday to cheer them on. We had a great time walking around downtown and watching the dogs. We tried to track down our mushers. William and I got to shout “Good luck!” to Lance Mackey. I don’t think he heard. There were too many groupies in front of us. Gwenna got to see DeeDee’s team but not DeeDee. We saw several others too. In all, it was really fun and now we are tracking them as they race towards Nome.

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