Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Iditarod 34 - Off and Running!

Saturday 04 March 2006 was a boiling mass of fans, dogs, mushers and supplies lining the streets of downtown Anchorage, Alaska. All in anticipation of the 34th Running of the Last Great Race .. the Iditarod Dogsled Race. 1,112 miles from Anchorage to Nome. A grueling, tough, dangerous and unpredictable run for the finish line.

This year the snow conditions in Alaska have been so abysmal that 4-6 inches of snow had to hauled into Anchorage from the surrounding mountains to fill the streets so the ceremonial start could take place in Anchorage. I don't know how far this 'snow route' had to be man-made - but the trip went 17 miles from downtown Anchorage - D and 5th Streets. The Sunday start was moved to Willow in order to have the snow cover needed.

On Sunday afternoon at 2 PM Alaska Time (GMT -9) - "The Last Great Race" began for the 34th time since it's first race in 1973. The weather was not cold but sunny and clear. The snow was good for a start and the race began with the usual gusto of new mushers, veterans and new gadgets. Among the most interesting things showing up at Iditarod was the dog mushing styles this year. The Swede win last year by Robert Sorlie, brought back a slower trained dog with longer running times and quicker recovery. Jeff King let it be known that was the regimine his dogs were doing this year. So .. will it work? That is yet to be seen.

The trail has posed a number of surprises. Sections that were normally worry some - and last year were downright destructive - were pretty good this year. The sections that were troubling in 2005 were not so this year - and what was easy in '05, have been true thorns this year.

What awaits them as the mushers and teams dash down the trails across the Alaskan wilderness, is anyone's guess now. But we can all be sure it'll not be alligators, snakes and hot weather!