Friday, March 9, 2012

Iditarod Day 2

We woke up again pretty early and had pancakes for breakfast, getting used to them now. After packing we headed to downtown where we rented a car to go to Willow, the actual start of the 40th Iditarod. Julien figured out how to drive with automatic gear pretty fast, though it was weird at first :). According to the weather forecast the day was supposed to be very beautiful in Willow, so we headed north with high expectations.

After 1,5 hours of driving we arrived in Willow and we were glad to notice the forecast was right: clear sky, sunshine and temperature -10 degrees, just perfect! Most of the mushers had already arrived in Willow Lake where the start was going to happen at 2 o’clock. We had a lot of time to walk around and take pictures of the mushers and their dogs, though we weren’t allowed to enter the musher area this time. We saw our favorites taking care of the dogs and feeding them as they were enjoying some picnic themselves, handlers sorting out of dog socks booties and all kinds of volunteers making sure everything was going smoothly. Lance introduced us to his main leader which appeared to be small hairy creature which maybe had a place in Lance’s sled… After couple hours of wandering we were hungry as well and enjoyed some reindeer hot dogs, cowboy fries and huge packet of popcorn.

Happy and with our stomachs full it was time to find a good spot for taking pictures. We found a nice place about hundred meters after the start line where we stayed watching most of the mushers starting their race and heading to Nome.

The trail seemed pretty soft so already at the beginning it was challenging for the mushers to keep the sled straight. But they also seemed to enjoy the start and they were waiving to people with big smiles. Dogs were pulling hard and they were excited to go! Some were so excited they messed up the lines just after the start :).
Ray Redington Jr.

William Pinkham

Tom Thurston

Jodi Bailey

Cim Smyth

Jeff King

Jeff King

And Aliy with the Red Team, good luck!

Go Aliy GO!

                                                           "What's that flag? Sweden?"

Pat Moon

DeeDee Jonrowe

Lance Mackey, our superstar

Go Mackey GO!

Hugh Neff

After we moved nearer to the start to see all the fuss and it seemed it needs many many handlers to get the team behind the start line and to wait the permission to start. We thought Ryne had a dream handler, Allen, and we were sure it would give her good luck for the race.

Ryne before the start with Allen

Mr Seavey, the last one to go was wearing number 100, to remind the anniversary year of the Iditarod trail. This Iditarod veteran who also raced the first Iditarod took his time in the start but we guess these veterans know what they are doing :). After him all the mushers had started their race and hopefully many of them will finish their race in Nome. We cheer for Lance, Aliy and Ryne but wish all the mushers the best of luck!

That was an amazing experience for both of us and we hope the pictures we took will give everybody at least a hint of an idea how it was to actually be there. A day to remember! But as we noticed, the day wasn’t over yet. On a way back the weather was still clear and we enjoyed some breath-taking landscapes of mountains around Anchorage. They deserve a post of their own, so you will see the pictures soon.

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