The Last Great Race – Iditarod Day #1

You can follow the updates at the Official Iditarod Website HERE – The Iditarod Trail Facebook Page is HERE

The race began approximately 12 hours ago. ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Mushers pumped their fists and high-fived fans Monday as they set out one-by-one on the world’s most famous sled dog race, a nearly 1,000-mile trek through the grueling Alaska wilderness.

The grandson of a co-founder of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was the first competitor on the trail in Fairbanks, in the heart of the state. Ryan Redington, 33, of Wasilla led the other 70 mushers out of the chute nearly a half-century after his grandfather, Joe Redington Sr., helped stage the first race in 1973.

The contest has a staggered start so fans, including 2,600 schoolchildren, can cheer on the competitors, who leave every two minutes. […] The competitive start is normally held a day later in Willow, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. But that start would have taken mushers over the Dalzell Gorge, where a lack of snow has left alders exposed on the trail and open water in places that normally would be frozen this time of year.

Winter conditions were not a concern in Fairbanks, where the temperature was minus 35 degrees Monday morning. The start was delayed a day to give mushers time to drive their dogs 360 miles north to the city of about 100,000.

Eighty-four mushers signed up for the race, and 13 scratched, so 71 sled teams took off. (more)

Race Updates Here

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77 Responses to The Last Great Race – Iditarod Day #1

  1. Harry Lime says:

    I’m glad they give those beautiful dogs little winter booties to wear on their paws. Magnificent creatures.

    Liked by 12 people

  2. hellinahandbasket says:

    Brrrrr!
    The cold weather MAKES you tough, no doubt.
    Although, I wouldn’t mind being all snuggggled-up with fur-coats, heating-blankets and one-dog stuck inside the sled with me, and some hot-cocoa of course.

    Liked by 7 people

    • auntiefran413 says:

      40 below is quite literally “wool sweater weather” in Fairbanks; 60 below is parka weather; 80 below can be hazardous to your health. NO WIND, NO HUMIDITY!

      Liked by 3 people

      • maiingankwe says:

        Oh, I don’t know, it’s -32F in the Interior as I type this, and to me it’s bloody cold. I only brought in a few wheel barrows of wood this morning hoping it would warm up a bit by the afternoon to get more.

        A number of us think once it hits -38- -40 and colder it’s all cold. Breaks on vehicles freeze up or are harder to press, and everything just slows down. Everything.

        It is beautiful though, blue skies for as far as one can see. The trees are all frozen with ice and glittering in the sun. It really is a sight to see.

        These temps don’t stop us from doing what needs to be done, just a little slower is all. Hoping a week or two it will warm up and we will finally see break up.

        I have to say our break ups are glorious if not a tad dangerous. There have been rivers with yuuge breaks of ice running down river with a car or truck or two. I had a good friend tell me he had been watching the river and all of a sudden a seventy foot Tree popped straight up and then went back under to be completely hidden. One never knows what is being carried down until it can be too late.

        I do like your table of reference though. I’m sure it applies to the people who are further north and hardier. However, there were times when I was wearing layers and a thick sweatshirt on top to gather wood outside at -38, and I was surprised at how one can sweat in those cold temps. Heck, I’m surprised every time it happens. It didn’t help when the snow off of my wood cover decided to come crashing down on the back of my neck. I’m sure Mother Nature was only trying to be funny by cooling me off. I wasn’t laughing though, but I can now.

        So after all of this writing, I have to say yes, your numbers are correct if one is working outside. If I’m just running errands that parka does me just fine at -40F.

        Be well and stay smiling. Sorry about the angst at the beginning. Your numbers are correct.

        Liked by 6 people

        • auntiefran413 says:

          Thank you for a wonderful response. It’s been 20 years since I “wintered” in Fairbanks. My son was in the army and stationed there for eight years. I’d go every winter because I loved the sights you referred to. The only time I recall having been uncomfortable was when we went to the ice sculpture show in Fairbanks at night and 65 below.

          You mentioned breakup. I’d forgotten about that. Do they s I truly envy youtill have the lottery that involves a tripod on the river (I’ve forgotten its name). The winner was the person who guessed closest to the time it broke through the ice. I once wrote 4/11/15:15. My son laughed because he thought I was so far off. I missed it by only 22 hours. I had the last laugh.

          I’d love to have retired to the wooded area around Fairbanks but the cost is prohibitive. I truly envy you and your visions of the Northern Lights!

          Liked by 1 person

      • yy4u says:

        auntiefran413. You must be a Sourdough. I lived in Fairbanks for 2 1/2 years. The first winter the red in the thermometer on the back porch disappeared into the bulb (-60) and didn’t reappear for two weeks. God knows how cold it got out there. Ice fog appears around -30 if I remember correctly. You can’t see a ten feet in front of you.

        Liked by 3 people

      • The Tundra PA says:

        Anything colder than -20 is just Dang Bloody Cold. And it is all hazardous to your health if you are not taking great care to not make stupid mistakes.

        Liked by 2 people

    • marierogers says:

      realize this will not sit well with dog racing fans…sorry i do not consider this a sport but rather animal cruelty..hopefully it will end ..someday!!

      Like

      • The Tundra PA says:

        marierogers, you are completely misinformed about dog mushing if you think that. There is nothing cruel about it. Sled dogs LOVE to run and to pull. Just like retrievers love to retrieve, sled dogs love to pull. If a dog doesn’t want to pull, you can’t make it. The dog is left at a checkpoint and then flown back to Anchorage to await the musher’s return. These dogs love their work.

        Liked by 2 people

      • hellinahandbasket says:

        @marierogers:
        Are you saying this because you’ve been there, witnessed it 1st-hand, spent time with the breeders and mushers, and the dogs – lived their lifestyle, spent time in their shoes, ran the trails along side them, etc….?

        I would hope someone wouldn’t cast criticism, let alone outright label something “animal cruelty” without first putting yourself directly in the middle of it.

        If you believe this “cruelty” exists because of injuries, and and exhaustion – then we should all stay inside our homes, never venture-out because these “cruel” things are bound to happen to us as well.

        These dogs are a driving force in not just a race, but a way of life. To label it cruelty because of lack of understanding isn’t helping to raise awareness of ACTUAL animal cruelty.

        Or maybe you wish these “animal-cruelty” dog teams didn’t make the actual trip to deliver medicine to Nome Alaska almost 100-years ago – it was cruel to help those people, and would have been better to just let them die?
        Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

        “…The 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy, was a transport of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay across the U.S. territory of Alaska by 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs 674 miles (1,085 km) in five and a half days, saving the small town of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic…”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1925_serum_run_to_Nome

        Like

  3. Jedi Clampett says:

    ‘Merica!

    Liked by 6 people

  4. jeans2nd says:

    Thank you for the update page. Those pics/descriptions on the update page are amazing. Many new words to learn now (Quest dog?).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rosie Ward says:

      Quest dog – the Yukon Quest is a 1000 mile race run between Fairbanks and Whitehorse in Feb. Several of the Iditarod teams competed in that race. Amazingly, they are racing now with most of the dogs that just ran those 1000 Quest miles. These dogs are elite athletes, vets and researchers really don’t know the limits of their endurance and abilities.

      Liked by 7 people

      • The Tundra PA says:

        Indeed, yes. For many years, the common wisdom was that a dog could not run both races in the same year. The Quest is in February and the Iditarod in March. And then in the 90s there were mushers who ran both races with some of the same dogs. The wisdom became that it wasn’t possible to win both races in the same year. And then Lance Mackey did it. And the following year he did it again. He won 4 Iditarods in a row, in ’07, ’08, ’09, and ’10. He won 4 Quests in a row in ’05, ’06, ’07, and ’08. No one has repeated that incredible performance since. Lance was one of the dozen musher who withdrew from this year’s Iditarod before the race started.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. JoAnn Leichliter says:

    This is great! Thanks, Sundown.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. flawesttexas says:

    CTH Sports! I like it 😊

    Liked by 5 people

  7. amwick says:

    What always amazes me, whenever I see a sled dog team, is how much the dogs absolutely love what they do…

    Liked by 9 people

    • Sharon says:

      Yes.

      We were owned by a Siberian Husky for about ten years. That boy loved to RUN. The only way we could effectively “take him for a walk” in the countryside where we lived was to put him on the long leash, start the car, bring the leash through the window so we would be in contact with him, and then drive the country roads. His loping speed was between 18-20 mph.

      Sierra King.

      The leash was wise because we never successfully broke him of his heart’s desire to simply take off cross-country, with or without us. Lots of our neighbors had chickens and pigs, etc. so having one’s dog take off cross-country was basically a good way to get the dog shot. (And in farm country, that outcome is understood and accepted by anyone who has any sense!!!!) It wasn’t that everyone didn’t love the dogs – the ham and eggs were income and in farm country, there’s not a lot of personal confusion about the priorities.

      Of course, in metro-goofitan areas, the children can’t even be taught or shown where eggs come from any more – might shock their tender sensibilities. True story: we live about thirty miles from the edge of Portland OR and have learned from the owners of the beautiful farms in our area that when and if the tender children from the Portland School Systems are brought into farm country on a bi-annual tour of some kind, they are neither to told or shown where either milk or eggs come from because when they go back home their parents complain that the children are reluctant to eat milk and eggs, because they always thought they came from the grocery store.

      Oh, well. Nothing new.

      Liked by 9 people

      • 2x4x8 says:

        ah, those kids

        Liked by 1 person

      • steve says:

        A few years ago, we went for an impromptu tour of a cattle farm with a few young boys. They had to step over a dead calf that had died overnight and just got dragged out of the barn. Honestly, it was no big deal.

        BTW, I love following the Iditarod. Our musher isn’t running this year but several of his dogs are. A young lady who as a homeschooler was assigned to study the Iditarod. She got hooked and is running her rookie race this year.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Sam says:

        Amazing and frightening how sheltered children are today. These parents are raising tomorrow’s special snowflakes who will remain forever children because the real world is too scary.

        I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know where eggs, milk, meat and other foods came from and it wasn’t the grocery store. If parents and the other adults around a child take the origins of foods for granted, the child will too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • john graham says:

          and we refuse to teach them about death..in all it’s forms, including our own…that is why people are “devastated” when an elderly parent, or grandparent , dies…we need to teach our children about ALL aspects of life..even the end…and that explains why these thugs are shooting at each other all the time…they watch TV and see the guys getting killed, and see them next week on a different show

          Liked by 2 people

  8. Jedi9 says:

    Cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. itswoot says:

    “Klondike Mike” Mahoney led a colorful life as an Alaskan musher and gold prospector. He may have been one of the early pioneers who inspired the beginnings of the Iditarod.

    He wrote an autobiography of his adventurous life titled, “Klondike Mike”.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. quintrillion says:

    I know it’s corny but one of my favorite old tv series is Sgt Preston of the Yukon and his dog King.

    Liked by 7 people

  11. Enlightened Vulgarian says:

    Every day is a learning experience here at the Treehouse. This short video explains what it’s all about….

    Liked by 2 people

    • yy4u says:

      Most of these dogs look like mixes. the one on the far right behind the black dog looks like a German shepherd. Blue eyed dog has a lot of husky in him/her and the one directly in front of the sled looks husky. Most as I said look like mixes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Tundra PA says:

        The breed known as Alaskan Husky is completely made of mixture. Mushers are constantly tinkering with genetics to try to get some advantage or other. The Alaskan Husky will never be recognized by American Kennel Club because there is no appearance standard, there is only a performance standard. Pull hard and run fast and never quit; the “paint job” (coat, color, head shape, etc) is irrelevant.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. entagor says:

    One of my favorite tv shows, Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, has an episode that includes ‘sled dog breeder’ You can buy the episode, or you can watch a limited small screen version on youtube

    You feel like you are on the sled. Mike mentions that dogs do not stop to poop. They poop while running so the driver gets pelted. The dogs have an excitement that is contagious. I think they are transported to the thrill of the pack. I love dogs. They have such heart

    Liked by 3 people

    • Bill W says:

      And just like in life – if you are not the lead dog the view never changes.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The Tundra PA says:

      Great link, entagor, thanks! I had never seen that episode of Dirty Jobs before. Love Mike Rowe. There is truly nothing in the world like dog mushing. It is incredible. I wish I had moved to Alaska 20 years earlier than I did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mztore says:

        I agree with you. We (all 6 of us) moved to the Interior in mid 1973, but I had wanted to be there in the 1950’s. Am giving my age away right? Still love it here, just not in the Interior now.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. MK Wood says:

    Ah, Fairbanks, AK, I remember it well. They said wear every bit of warm clothes you have because it will be cold. The day we arrived it was – 50 something. All those layers of warm clothes were barely enough to get us from the C-141 to the hanger. Man it was cold. From there the first place we went was to get the arctic weather gear. The mickey mouse boots were the funniest. That was the beginning of our 6 weeks of cold weather training. Fun, fun fun.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Tundra PA says:

      Bunny boots. Nuthin’ like ’em. They’ll save you from losing your toes to frostbite.

      Liked by 1 person

    • maiingankwe says:

      We still wear bunny boots. We all have a pair, at least everyone I know does. They are super warm, heavy, but warm.

      Liked by 1 person

    • yy4u says:

      The Mickey Mouse boots were called vapor barrier boots. I had sealskin mukluks from Barrow with mouton socks so my feet were never cold. I bought my parka from the Mukluk Shop in Fairbanks. Still have it though I can’t zip it up anymore (drat!). It’s the prettiest coat I’ve ever had.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The Tundra PA says:

        I’m guessing, fur? Seal skin? Beaver? Wolf ruff? I have lots of fur (including the beaver hat I’m wearing in my gravatar photo) but no fur parka. Never spent the 2 grand it took to buy one.

        Like

    • MK Wood says:

      All military issue items. So no mukluk stuff. Even so it worked wonderfully. Still, after many continuous hours in that cold it starts to seep through even the best gear. You definitely slow and tire much faster. All in all the experience was one I will never forget.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Paco Loco says:

    During my eight years in Alaska, I had the good fortune to be in Nome for the finish of the Iditarod on two occasions. Magnificent dog teams, ruddy drivers and lots of drunk Eskimos laid out side in the lot next to Nomes classic watering hole, the Board of Trade. It’s a real Alaskan Sourdough adventure.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. MaineCoon says:

    What focuse training by the musher and his dog doing what it takes to sacrifice to win.

    Sounds like the race President Trump trained for and won! Planning. Focused. Sacrifice. Perseverance. $$$

    Liked by 3 people

  16. IdahoDeplorable says:

    We lived in Alaska for a couple of years. The bad part is that dogs die in this race.

    Like

    • The Tundra PA says:

      The dogs in this race are doing what they love to do. Dogs die every day. The race doesn’t kill them. Iditarod dogs are some of the best-cared-for dogs on the planet.

      Liked by 2 people

    • maiingankwe says:

      I agree with Tundra and her reply. Those dogs love the race, absolutely love pulling a sled. I’ve never seen anything like their excitement when the harnesses come out and they’re all barking pick me, pick me! It’s what they’ve been bred to do, and I can guarantee you any pup who had no interest in the sled is given away or kept as a family pet in the home.

      These sled dogs are loved and treasured by their owners, it’s what helps makes them great sled dogs.

      The vets who check all of the dogs at every single stop are the best of the best and have a waiting list. If a vet takes a dog out from the race it’s non-negotiable. Their word is law and many times respected by the mushers. None of the mushers want to see any harm come to any of their pups. They’re family just like my house dog. Loved and cherished and very well taken care of. They eat the best of foods, and the Natives feed salmon to theirs. I’m sure the well off mushers still mix it in with their expensive meals too. Anamae (spelling may be slightly off) is what many of our locals use.

      Please look into how our mushers take care of all of their dogs, I think you will change your mind on what you’re feeling right now.
      Be well.

      Liked by 3 people

    • marierogers says:

      did not know that…i still say its cruel..bet these dogs would rather be in a warm place!

      Like

      • Steve says:

        A couple things to consider. First, I read somewhere that because the harnesses are so good, the tension on the dog when pulling is actually only a few pounds. I think is was between five and fifteen.

        Second, these dogs thrive in the cold. They actually are worse off in warm weather. I’ve known of mushers to drop because the weather was too warm for the dogs.

        If a dog dies on the trail, the musher must bring the body to the next check point and a vet does a necropsy. If the death is not from natural causes, he is disqualified.

        Mushers spend years training their dogs to be athletes, there is no benefit to abusing them.

        Like

  17. The Tundra PA says:

    The Iron Dog gets plenty of coverage!

    Like

    • I remember Sarah Palin cheering her husband
      to TWO WINS
      at the Iditarod Dog Race Alaska
      real people real live altered 4 ever

      Like

      • The Tundra PA says:

        Gary, Sarah’s husband Todd Palin is not a dog musher, he is a snowmachiner. He has won the Iron Dog 4 times. One year he hit a semi-submerged metal 55 gallon drum and went flying over the handlebars. Broke both bones in his forearm. Finished the race with wooden splints duct taped to his arm. That’s Alaska tough!

        Liked by 2 people

  18. The Tundra PA says:

    I was a dog musher for years, until arthritis took me out of the sport. I love mushing with a deep and abiding passion. The bond between a musher and his or her dog team is amazing. The dogs take you where you could not otherwise go. You depend on them, and they depend on you. A well-trained team is a joy to drive, and to watch.

    Following Iditarod every year is one of my most fun things to do. I know many of the mushers personally, and am good friends with Aliy Zirkle and her husband Allen Moore. I so hope Aliy wins this year! A woman has not won Iditarod since Susan Butcher’s last win in 1990. Aliy is the worthy successor to Susan’s great legend. Aliy won the Yukon Quest in 2000, the first woman ever to do so. Since then she has run the Iditarod every year, and finished in 2nd place twice. She is not only a great musher, she is an incredibly nice person. And a gorgeous Amazon at 6 feet tall, who is strong as an ox.

    Go Aliy!

    Liked by 3 people

    • maiingankwe says:

      I’ve got my fingers crossed for Aliy too! I’d love to see her win, I really would. I don’t know her personally nor have I met her, but I’ve kept tabs on past races, it’s her time in my eyes.

      It takes great physical endurance to be a musher, not only are the trails rough at times, but the work is never ending. I’ve always had the utmost respect for the mushers, pups and sport.

      I did take dog mushing for a phy ed class in Minnesota and those memories I will never forget. Loved every single moment, even the time a tree branch reached out and grabbed my coat with me flying shortly after. I can still laugh now remembering my bum stuck in that deep snow with legs sticking out and trying to get out. Great memories.

      Liked by 3 people

  19. floridahoosier93 says:

    It takes some real guts to compete in that race.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. yy4u says:

    Stunned at all the people who live in or have lived in Alaska, including myself. Makes me wonder how the devil Murkowski can be a Senator from the same state that elected Sarah Palin (an authentic Alaskan).

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Tundra PA says:

      *rolls eyes* I know, yy. Kills me that we keep electing this woman. What she has managed to do, that keeps getting her elected, is to convince many Alaska Natives in the bush villages that she is their friend in Washington DC who will bring home the bacon for them.

      Like

  21. MIKE says:

    My wife and I adopted twins from Ulyanovsk, Russia. We were there for a month or so right before our Christmas. About -42 f there. The buildings have “two front doors, or what we would call a mud room. I’ll always remember the ice on the doorknob of the inside room. Brutally cold even though I was much younger then. The sledders must be incredibly brave, hearty, that kind of cold deserves the same respect mariners have for the ocean. And yeah, I had to buy one of those fur hats, an ear saver for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. ALEX says:

    My dad was sent to anchorage,Alaska in the late seventies for two years to audit the federal railroad. I was in elementary school, I am from Annapolis,Maryland and it was a blast for a kid.

    ..I saw the start of the race in anchorage two times, but I remember once they had to bring some snow in for streets…The original climate change lol…like the weather doesn’t change back and forth.

    It’s amazing to see all the dogs so enthusiastic and Alaskan huskies are amazing creatures, although I would never have one here….Good stuff and Thanks Sundance…

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Tundra PA says:

      Wow, you got to see a couple of the early races, then! You might have gotten to see Susan Butcher start. How exciting, Alex! It’s true, Alaskan huskies are incredible dogs. So strong, so full of energy, so excited to go, jumping and barking and just can’t wait. So you pull the hook and hang on tight.

      Like

  23. “If you are not the lead sled dog….the view never changes”

    Like

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