Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Last Great Race

Spring must be right around the corner. They’re gearing up for The Last Great Race out there in Alaska. Yeah, the Iditarod kicks off this Saturday. Trail conditions seem to be “normal,” which, as the news posting says is both good and bad for the mushers heading out.

Due to a decided lack of snow on some stretches of the early trail last year (and encroaching civilization) race officials shifted the trail a bit to give the racers more of a chance to experience the wilderness conditions of the original musher faced in his race to Nome. Of course, Global Warming gets the blame for the change.

If I had to start a “bucket list”—and if the Doc allowed there was sufficient time—this even would most certainly e on it. No, not to participate in the race itself, that alone would probably be the death of me. No, I’d want to go up there and just witness the start and finish of the race. Get a chance to meet some of the mushers and their dogs.

Go on over to the official web site and read some of the history of the race and look through the news files. There are several shorter races that take place in the weeks leading up to The Big One that have ended and it sounds like a couple of them were doozies!

Seventeen year-old Jessica Klejka won the 140 mile Iditarod Jr. race by two (2) seconds!

And Lance Mackey won the Yukon Quest by margin of just 15 minutes with a composite time of 10 days, 12 hours and 14 minutes. It was his fourth victory in that event. That race finished on February 20th. What’s amazing is that Mackey will be on the line this Saturday and that some of the 16 dogs in his team will be from this group that just finished racing, other’s will be from the team that Lance’s son just ran in the Jr. event. But, hey, that’s what the dogs are bred to do and it’s what they love to do. Did I mention that Mackey won the 2007 Iditarod with a time of 9days, 5 hours, 8 minutes, and 41 seconds? That was his third top-ten finish in five starts.

There’s yet one more big race the end of March that starts in Nome: the All Alaska Sweepstakes. That’s a $100,000, winner-take-all race and Mackey and his dogs have their eyes on the prize.

I just peeked at the weather info for Wasilla, Alaska that’s at the top of the Iditarod page. That little widget says it’s 20 degrees WARMER there than it is here at the Aerie in north-central PA. Thirty-four degrees F compared to 13 degrees. (It’s only about 5 degrees at the Bolt Hole—going down to minus 5 degrees tonight.)

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