We are just a few days away from the start of the Iditarod! How did that happen? Wasn't it just fall?
2016 Red team re-start in Willow
The timetable for the squad is pretty full for the next week. Someone said recently that ours is a logistics-heavy sport and this week rigorously tests that theory.
Today, Wednesday: Aliy and Allen along with Mickey, Doug (Aliy's parents) and Moira head to Anchorage for sponsor events on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Then, on Thursday Aliy and Allen have musher meetings for much of the day while Chris, Ruth and Mark drive the canine squad down the Parks Highway to arrive in time for the Start Banquet.
Friday is more sponsor events interspersed with ensuring the dogs get out of the truck as much as possible to stretch their legs and store-up some calories.
2016 Red Team Ceremonial Start (Photo Lee Fisher)
Saturday morning sees the Ceremonial Start on 4th Avenue of Anchorage. The teams will mush 11 miles through downtown out to the Campbell Airstrip. If you are anywhere near Anchorage on Saturday this is a "must see" event - give us a wave and a shout as we go by!
As soon as the Ceremonial Start is complete all our dogs and people head straight back up to Fairbanks so everyone can sleep in their own beds for a couple of nights. That is one of the advantages we have with the restart in Fairbanks.
Sunday we close the kennel to all visitors and will be used to do final preparations; sled packing, psyching up and Aliy and Allen will take the final selection of dogs on a short stretch-out run. Only after that will we be able to let you know the team rosters.
Monday morning it's all go! The Restart begins at 11am in Fairbanks. Normally that is where we say goodbye to the teams until we see them again in Nome but this year we will take a truck to the first checkpoint in Nenana where we take the drop bags for our teams to pick up. Nenana is different to all other checkpoints on the Iditarod in that handlers are required to be there to bring the drop bags, and are able to help hold and park the teams.
2016 Black team re-start in Willow
As far as coverage of the race: this blog, as always, will be SP Kennel-centric and will follow only our two teams. Other kennels have great websites and Facebook pages that will update you on their progress (there are other mushers?). We don't offer any kind of strategic commentary (there are plenty of others that do that far better than I ever could) and prefer to stick to what we know about our teams. We will run our own race and see how it all shakes out in the end.
Check out our social media sites as we will also post and share things directly to our Facebook page, our Instagram and maybe even shake the dust off our dormant Twitter account so you can follow along on your preferred social site.
Your best bet for up to the minute coverage is the Iditarod website and Facebook page; and if you haven't already, I would recommend becoming an Iditarod Insider if you can. Every team will be wearing a GPS tracker that gives loads of information, not just where they are at a given moment. You can check out run/rest schedule graphs and speed trends. We rely heavily on these trackers and at times will watch every inch and every minute.
The Insider Team on the trail will bring you video and stories, and I know they have been testing some live feeds so we may get to see some of that again this year. The team is experienced at following this race and get you right in on the action.
If you are an educator there are some excellent resources available via the Iditarod website and their new Education Portal. It's actually really interesting even if you aren't an educator.
There will, of course, be several local and national news outlets covering the race and I will try to link relevant stories as they come up. There are also several Facebook pages that follow the race, offering strategic insights, links to media stories and chat communities. I couldn't hope to link them all here but if you search for 'Iditarod' or variations of that and you might find one that suits you.
Thank you for choosing to follow along with us. We love having you with us and appreciate every comment and "like". We may not be able to get back to everyone that contacts us through the race but we do read all the messages. In the spring when things are a little quieter, Aliy and Allen do go back to read them all so your message does get through.
READY? LET'S GO!