The Iditarod Family Reunion

Tomorrow we hop a jet in Orlando and head to Anchorage. Doug and I (Aliy’s and Kaz’s parents) are the first in a parade of family members traveling to Alaska for Iditarod 2007. We are there to help with logistics and provide moral support. With both Aliy and Allen competing, the start will be a huge undertaking.

In Anchorage, we headquarter at the home of Jeanne Reilly and Larry Bogue, dedicated sponsors and great friends. Doug and I will sleep there Tuesday night and then await the arrival of Aliy and Allen on Wednesday. They drive 6 to 7 hours south from Two Rivers in a truck loaded with sleds and racing gear. Both need to be rested and alert for a sponsor dinner Wednesday night and mandatory pre-race meetings all day Thursday.

Early morning Thursday, Kaz, Ray and 38 canine athletes board two dog trucks and head south from Two Rivers to Anchorage. They will stop once or twice en route to stretch and water the dogs (and themselves). Their trip will take about 8 hours.

Also on Thursday, Aliy’s two uncles (Toebe and Bob McDonald) meet at Minneapolis Airport to fly directly to Anchorage. They arrive late afternoon just in time for the Iditarod Starting Banquet.

Eight family members, along with ‘adopted’ family and friends, meet for the Starting Banquet on Thursday evening, where Aliy and Allen choose their starting positions. It is the time for mushers, sponsors, families, friends and groupies to gather and celebrate the spirit of the Iditarod.

Early Friday Allen’s daughter, Bridget, arrives in Anchorage from Nome, where she has been working since November. She is an experienced musher and will be a critical member of the starting line pit crew.

There will be 9 of us in Anchorage related by blood or marriage. We can only hope that the labor and the love of family will help reduce starting line ‘stress’ for Aliy and Allen. We can only hope!!!

P.S. Allen’s Mom, Donnie, flies to Nome, Alaska from Manila, Arkansas, for the finish. More later on the family reunion at the finish line.