MAR 7, 14 (Part 2) .. THE 2014 IDITAROD – II

Below I am going to show you a series of photographs taken on Saturday the 1st of March as the race was about to actually begin.

The sled dogs must be transported from their home kennels to the start of the race.  This first set of photographs will show you several of the 69 team-vehicles in which the dogs are transported.  As you will note .. there are as many different types of sled-dog-transporters as there are mushers!

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Do you all see the SNOW?! The SNOW that was trucked in commencing late Friday afternoon and continuing well into the night! The SNOW that now covers the bare pavement you saw in Part I above!

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This is a photo of the side of one of the REALLY FANCY transporters!

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Each musher is required to carry in-their-sled a number of items required for survival on-the-trail and some items to be used for souvenirs to be turned over to the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) upon completion of the race. Below is a listing of these required items as specified by the ITC.

Rule 16 — Mandatory Items:

A musher must have with him/her at all times the following items:

A Proper cold weather sleeping bag weighing a minimum of 5 lbs.

One Axe, its head to weigh a minimum of 1-3/4 lbs., handle to be at least 22″ long.

One operational pair of snowshoes with bindings, each snowshoe to be at least 252 square inches in size.

Any promotional material provided by the ITC.

Eight booties for each dog in the sled or in use.

One operational cooker and pot capable of boiling at least three (3) gallons of water at one time.

Veterinarian notebook, to be presented to the veterinarian at each checkpoint.

An adequate amount of fuel to bring three (3) gallons of water to a boil.

Cable gang line or cable tie out capable of securing dog team.

Functional non-chafing harness for each dog in team and a functional neckline

When leaving a checkpoint adequate emergency dog food must be on the sled. (This will be carried in addition to what you carry for routine feeding and snacking.)

Gear will be checked at the Re-Start and during the 24 hour layover for conformity to minimum standards as set forth above. Gear may be checked at any other time during the Race at the discretion of the Race Marshal and or the Race Judges. Gear may be checked at all check points except Safety.

Vet books will be signed by a veterinarian or in the absence of a veterinarian may be signed by a designated race official.

The musher will also sign the vet book.

IT IS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO STATE HERE that the above required items are NOT required to be in the sleds at the ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage.  Why? Because at the start of the race each sled is occupied by a human IditaRider.

WHAT IS AN ‘IDITARIDER’?

IditaRiders are interested followers of the Iditarod that bid money in an auction held in the months prior to the race so that they may enjoy the pleasure of actually riding in the sleds as they leave the starting line in Anchorage. The IditaRiders will ride for approximately eleven (11) miles in their musher’s sled.  IditaRider hopefulls can selectively bid to ride with a musher of their choice if they so desire. The more famous the musher the more costly the IditaRide! I have seen IditaRider bids in-the-vicinity of $7,500 US Dollars associated with the most famous mushers. Many such bids are actually generous donations to the Iditarod to assist with enormous costs of funding the race.

This year the IditaRider bidding began on January the 17th.

Karen Ramstead .. you and your IditaRider LaRita Skipper from Arkansas look VERY happy!

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So do you Abbie West and your IditaRider Jan Landt from San Diego.  Jan we all hope that your ‘bucket list’ wish to be an IditaRider has been a wonderful experience!

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And Hans Gatt and IditaRider Leroy Rosenberg.  Ride On!

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Where was I?  Got It! Back to the transport vehicles.

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OH YES!  Our weather can change with a snap-of-the-fingers!  A little fog settled in for a short visit!

Are you getting the idea that the logistical-process of getting 69 teams with 16 dogs in each team replete with transportation vehicles and dog-handlers and other support people on hand is ONE ENORMOUSLY COMPLICATED LOGISTICAL PROCESS!

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The below photo shows a team on-the-run as well as yet another view of a sled-dog hauler.

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Now that you have some idea of the manner in which the teams and their dogs travel .. let me show you a few of the sled-dogs!  The canine-athletes of the Iditarod!

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“Yes ‘Zilla?!” 

“What do the dogs have on their feet?” Oh ‘Zilla! I can COUNT-ON-YOU to look-things-over ever so closely and to ask me great questions!!

To protect their feet from the ice and debris on the trail during their 1,000 mile run-to-Nome .. each dog wears ‘booties’.  During the race the mushers change the ‘booties’ many times as necessary.  Used ‘booties’ are a real souvenir treasure that the people along-the-trail and other race-followers love to have.  Mushers themselves make ‘booties’ as do an army of associates (wives and friends) and outside volunteers wishing to assist them.  They can be as different in terms of materials and designs as there are teams.  They are ‘tough and resiliant’.

The web site .. Dogbooties.com .. is a fun web site that will give you lots of information on their Dogbooties!

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Yep! They’re all fitted-out with their new ‘booties’.  John Baker .. the owner of this team and an extemely popular musher .. won the Iditarod back in year 2011 establishing the current record for the fastest winning time.

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See their ‘booties’?  I really get-a-chuckle out of the ‘booties’ BUT fully realize that the ‘booties’ are a critical and a crucial part of dog protection during the race.

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“Yes ‘Zilla?” .. “I have absolutely and I have positively NO IDEA what-so-ever as to why these sled dogs have different colored ‘booties’ front and back!”

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I wish I had the technical ability to let you HEAR the noise the barking and excited dogs are making all-the-while as they wait impatiently to get-going!  Study the below photo .. you can see one dog at the left barking and one at the right jumping up.

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OH YES ladies do mush in the Iditarod. I think that the team in the below photo was DeeDee Johnrowe’s team.  The ‘booties’ look definately to be DeeDee’s distinct shade of Pink! DeeDee is easily one of the most popular mushers.  She has run the Iditarod 32 times finishing 29 times with 3 scratches. A breast cancer-survivor DeeDee is a living inspiration to all!

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On their way to the Starting Line!  ‘Booties’ and all!

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OK Iditarod fans! .. Enough with the sled dog transporters and the sled dog ‘booties’! I will wrap this second post up and ask that you please scroll down for the continuation of The 2014 Iditarod in Part III below.