A packed house enjoyed entertainment, speeches and great food at the Denai'na Centre in downtown Anchorage this evening at the Mushers' Banquet and Bib Draw. It's always a great evening with many supporters and fans lined up to see Aliy and Allen and get their posters, programs and T-shirts signed and to take a selfie or two!
Awesome table centrepiece from "RES" in grade 3 from Raymond ME; breathtaking print from Zane Giles taken at Nenana during last year's race
Some fans and supporters line up for Aliy's picture and autograph; best hat of the night??
Mike Williams Snr blessed the race, the mushers and the dogs, and Hobo Jim was there to sing his famous "I did, I did, I did the Iditarod Trail" as well as the National Anthem and the Alaska Flag Song. The live and silent auctions raised a lot of money for the race and this year's honorary musher Joanne Potts was honored for her many years of hard work for the Iditarod organisation.
Each musher then got to cross the stage, draw their bib number out of the mukluk and say a few words of thanks. Allen was first up and he drew number 5 for his team. He thanked major sponsors Matson, Eagle Pack and Verizon and all our dog and website sponsors and fans. The Black Team will leave the starting chute on Saturday at 10.06am.
Aliy thanked Alaska for being "her sweetheart" and also her team of 16 four legged family members. She thanked sponsors, friends, family and fans of not just her but of the dogs. The Red Team will be wearing number 13 for their journey to Nome. This means they will take off at 10.24am on Saturday morning for the Ceremonial Start.