Iditarod Rookie Meeting

This past weekend, I travelled down to Anchorage for one of my first events as an Iditarod rookie, the mandatory rookie meeting. Every December, the Iditarod gathers all the rookies (this year there are seventeen of us) in Anchorage to review important race information from dog care and vaccines to drop bag logistics and trail descriptions.

We also had the privilege of listening to some of the top mushers in the sport like John Baker, DeeDee Jonrowe, Martin Buser, and of course Aliy Zirkle. Together they have a combined total of over eighty Iditarods! Nicolas Petit, last year’s Rookie of the Year, also spoke, giving tips and advice that he found helpful on his rookie run, such as the importance of a good alarm clock. Luckily, I get to learn from Allen and Aliy's experience, so potentially stressful details like where to park the dogs in Anchorage, when to schedule EKG and blood work, or how to fly the dogs back from Nome are already worked out.

In addition to mushers, we heard from other Iditarod staff including chief veterinarian Dr. Nelson, Jan Bullock with the pre-race EKG and Blood Work Program, the Iditarod Air Force, Communications Coordinator Andi Malard, and Iditarod Trail Sweep Will Peterson. Without all their help, much of it volunteered, the Iditarod would not be the race it is today. It’s incredible the amount of man hours required to put on a 1,000-mile sled dog race!