I'm at the Iditarod!

Well, at the start of it, anyway. For general info, you can go to iditarod.com, but if there’s anyone who has any questions, fire away. I’m to be working as a volunteer in things like data entry, answering phones, etc.

I saw the Ceremonial Start today, and will see the real start tomorrow. The dogs are amazing. They are incredibly eager to run, run, run. They whine and bark when they have to wait their turn to go.

The weather is crazy. It’s now about 29 degrees here, 8:40 PM, almost the exact temperature back east in New Jersey. There’s LESS snow here, though.

Welcome to Alaska and enjoy our very warm winter!

I do miss the Iditarod start. The energy of the dogs is incredible. When my wife worked in the old federal building on 4th Avenue, we could get up on the roof for a ringside view without having to fight the crowds. Have fun!

How did you get this chance?

Is a video of the start on line?

Will the real start be live-streamed?

If one wants to see the start, where should one stay, when should one make reservations, and it the ceremonial or real start more impressive?

And why do they have two starts?

Do all sleds have the same number of dogs?

No. They can have a maximum of sixteen and must have 12 at the starting line.


How did you get this chance?: Anybody can volunteer. Go to their website.

Is a video of the start on line? Yes, go to the website.

Will the real start be live-streamed?: Probably not.

If one wants to see the start, where should one stay, when should one make reservations, and it the ceremonial or real start more impressive?: Any hotel in Anchorage will do, but the ones downtown are optimal. The ceremonial start has more people around, and is convenient to bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. The official start is in the town of Willow, which is a significant distance from Anchorage.
And why do they have two starts?**: The one in Anchorage attracts tourist dollars and local dollars for businesses. The official start has to be somewhere where the mushers have a clear path to to the trail north. Leaving out of Anchorage creates all sorts of logistics problems, including crossing the main highway north, getting through several towns along the way, and transitioning the military bases. In Willow, they launch right onto the race trail.

Thanks, chefguy.

Hey, chefguy, thanks for providing the answers while I was away!

Myself, since I am volunteering, am staying at the headquarters hotel, the Millennium. They have a discount rate for volunteers, and give us 20% off on meals in the hotel.

Some of the videos are accessible only to those who pay for a special subscription.

I saw the real start today on the frozen Willow Lake, which is about an hour and a half drive from Anchorage. It was a lot of fun. Again was able to get up and walk around where the teams were setting up. The place was full of folks, including lots of families. Some people had campfires or grills set up, some just roasting marshmallows, others cooking food. The kids were having a great time being pulled on sleds, just running around, and of course everyone cheering for their favorites as the actual race got underway. The weather was warmer than is most comfortable for the dogs, but very nice for the humans. I had no need of the super cold-weather gear I brought; it remains in my suitcase. The skies were crystal clear blue, no wind, temps probably around 30 degrees.

Did the bus and other information I gave you work out?

Sorry to be so long between posts; the Wi-Fi at this hotel is spotty.

Chefguy, I don’t recall your giving me bus info, but I got it from the hotel although I haven’t used it yet.

The race is well down the trail now. There were apparently some horrible conditions along the way due to lack of snow cover. Twelve mushers have withdrawn or scratched. One was simply ill, the others as far as I know scratched because of their own fatigue, injuries and/or equipment problems. The sleds are of course designed to move over snow. Moving over bare, rocky ground is hard on sleds, dogs and people.

The dogs all wear booties (they look sooo cute), and these wear out in no time on the bare ground.

Well, it was a doper who started a thread about being a volunteer and they wanted information on where to stay, buses, restaurants, etc. I thought it was you.

Hmm, don’t think so.

Yup. Guess you didn’t bother to read the answers to your questions.

And, in the words of Ellen Degeneres—

“I canirod, I willirod, Iditarod.”

Actually, I did read them at the time, but I forgot to recheck that thread.

Thank you.

I did walk to Gwennies, and found it to be pretty ordinary with standard diner food. A nice change from hotel food.

I am sure I’ll get downtown on one of my days off and will check out your recommendation of the Glacier Brewhouse.

Can’t forget the theme song: I Did, I Did, I Did the Iditarod Trail!