Tuesday, March 8, 2011

iditarod 2011, the first 10 mushers out of willow...

thought i'd go over the pictures in groups. of course todays group ends/starts with martin buser, who happens to be in the lead at the moment. we are all in love with his dimples...word on the trails is that he has the personality that goes with them. he's won the iditarod 4 times and has the fastest time ever. he's also won the award for excellence in dog care 4 times so that makes him a hero in my book. he's from switzerland, and got into dog mushing there. i believe that brought him here for the great race and he loved alaska so much he moved here. he loves that you can drive a dog team for over 1000 miles and never cross a road.
of course, there is talk of putting a road in from fairbanks area to nome at some point. there is also talk of a few very expensive bridges...so far it's all only talk. there has always been talk of a road from juneau as well...talk is cheap, roads and bridges cost loads of money. in this economy perhaps we should just talk about these things. building brings jobs though. so happy i'm not a politician.
i think overall the trail has been good. there are a few sections that are pretty challenging no matter what the weather and conditions. sounds and looks like area's of switchbacks going downhill. the dogs just fly and the mushers just must try and hang on. these are the area's where frequent injuries occur. rick swenson now has a broken collarbone to contend with the rest of his run. he has decided to carry on. the guy is sixty and must be a pretty tough character. gebhardt, who scratched already, said collarbone breaks hurt like hell, he's broken his 4 times. swenson has won the iditarod 5 times. mackey is attempting to match that this year.
two other racers have scratched as well. former fashion model zoya denure is out. this year it's a leg injury, last year i believe it was mastitis. she and her husbands kennel is made up of rescued sled dogs. melissa owens is also out. she is from nome and was the first female from nome to finish and the youngest girl to run the iditarod.
buser is settled in for one of the mandatory breaks by now no doubt. they must take a 24 hour stop, then an 8 hour stop on the yukon river somewhere and then at white mountain another 8 hour stop. that one is just 77 miles from nome.
#10 is robert buntzen of anchorage. sure he doesnt' train here. many people who want to make a run of the iditarod, work and train in one of the larger kennels owned by veteran mushers. prepping for the iditarod is time consuming and expensive. i'd heard cost is about $40,000 for this adventure. this guy has run the race 12 times though so not sure where he keeps all those dogs at. he grew up in an area where he would trap using a dog team.
he's never finished higher than 27th so not really known as a contender. not sure how folks like that pay for this year after year.
of course, i'm there for the dogs mostly. i love to watch them run and getting action shots is just so cool. lots of drool. several dogs have already been dropped. this means when a musher gets to a checkpoint he will leave a dog behind. the dogs are checked by a vet and then flown back to anchorage. inbetween check points if a dog is injured or sore or whatever. the mushers will tuck the dog in the sled and the dog will just ride. jeff king would have a spare kennel on his sled and rotate a dog in/out. that could be a pretty bumpy ride i'd guess, but i suppose they get used to it.
as much as i love dogs, i do get annoyed when people assume that since i'm single and have no kids that my dogs are literally my children. i have pets and i do love my pets. when they pass away i am very sad. they are not my children though. mostly, i think people assume you must just be so sad to not have kids that dogs must be substituted in as kids. i'm sure they can't imagine thier lives without kids. people shouldn't assume that their lives look so glorious to others. if i would have had kids i think i would have been happy, but i'm also happy with my life without kids. life just comes at you and you find your happiness with the life you are given. i'm happy to not be a single mom, which looks exhausting and stressful. many of those people who act like i must be so sad and miserable are the very same ones who end up divorced. happy people don't have to belittle other people, that is what i find anyway. i'm just saying when people say stuff like," if you lost your dogs you'd be devastated since they are like your children" i just find it belittling and snobby. i work with kids. i know the difference between the loss of a child and the loss of a dog. i've been there with many people for both.
i think it's just that there are a few mothers out there who act superior to us single girls because they are mothers. i realize that the whole birthing/mothering thing can be a very spiritual experience for some, but i've seen enough kids beaten to death and neglected to know that that isn't true for all. it's hard work and not always rewarding. i applaud the moms who put thier heart and soul into rearing thier kids. it's worth doing right. i think because i don't have kids i expect more of those who do. you have been given a great gift, don't screw it up. i feel proud of the fact that i never married or had a kid with mr wrong. not many can say that. i do love dogs, they are great companions to have in life. if my house was burning down, god forbid, and i have a choice between saving my dog or your kid. as painful as it would be to lose my dogs, i would save the child. peta wouldn't like that i'm sure. the iditarod is all about the dogs though so i'll get off my rant.
#9 is zoya denure who i have already mentioned has already dropped out of the race.
#8 is kris hoffman out of colorado. i believe the two colorado mushers are a bit back in the pack and traveling together a bit. mushers do often unofficially team up. not that they can help each other with tasks and such, but i think there is safety in numbers. always a trail rule, though i mostly hike alone and take my chances. it may bite me in the arse one of these days.
he and his wife run a dog kennel down south and i guess his team is all very young dogs. that lack of experience could be a big factor in his being at the back of the pack. often people do the iditarod less as a race and more as a travel adventure. you only have so many days to get it done. the volunteers and support system is a huge undertaking and they can't be out there indefinitely. if you get too far behind the pack you will be asked to scratch.
always love those long, long tongues.
today i took the pups up to glen alps trailhead and walked a ways on the powerline trail. i think you can take that across to indian on turnigan arm. we weren't going that far today. would be too long for rio. it was another amazing day out there though. feels like spring. sunshine and temperatures up to almost 40 degrees. for me, that meant opening the windows and airing out the house for several hours. it does seem funny to me that you want to open windows when the temperature outside is 40, funny how your body acclimates to the cold.
these are loaded backwards of course, wasn't sure how many mushers i'd get in here today. i work the next 3 nights so you'll have to go without updates or rants.
malibu musher, kristy berington is next. she's still in the race. saw a little clip of her last year and it sounds like many on the trail had counted her out cause she was just some pretty girl. that, of course, pushed her to get to nome. the team she is taking to nome is from paul gebhardt's kennel. he just dropped out with his group so hopefully, this team is feeling better and will get her to nome. i love when people take a challenge and run with it.
i think mackey has already dropped 3-4 dogs. he acts like it's not going as well this year, but he does like to play little games out there to fake out his competition. he's gotten king many times with his antics.
two incidences in anchorage to report...only cause they are odd and not too bright. first there has been a moose hanging in downtown area. a 20 year old thought she'd try to pet the moose, the moose wasn't too keen on this and stomped her up pretty good. she had only minor injuries.
drinking led to two idiot off duty soldiers playing a little game of russian roulette. one lost and is dead from a self inflicted gunshot to the abdomen. i don't think they id'd the guy who died, but i know the other guy is a parent. this is where i get annoyed and have higher expectations for people who have chosen to have kids. i mean really, if you have kids, should you be playing russian roulette. i mean even without having kids it's a stupid thing to do, but once you have kids you have a responsibilty to someone other than yourself. once you have a child, all your choices now have to be funneled through your parent brain.
they had a picture of buser in the paper today. i must say it's the first picture i've seen of him looking unhappy. he generally seems like a totally happy guy. his dogs tangled with newton marshalls and in detangling all the dogs 5 of busers dogs bolted. it's not that they are trying to escape the race, they just run. not a dog one would have for taking for walks in the parks, they have only one speed. buser had to sit at the checkpoint waiting. you can't check in if you do not have all your dogs accounted for. 2 dogs raced ahead to the checkpoint. the other 3 were captured by ken anderson and attached to his sled. soon the team was back together again.
planes are huge in the iditarod. food drops, dog pick ups. they move support, supplies. the iditarod couldn't happen without the planes.
this is newton marshall waving goodbye. he has trained with mackey and runs mackey's dogs.
he is from jamaica and finished 47th as a rookie last year.
not really seen as any sort of threat or contender. he was in the middle of the pack last time i checked. not many dog mushers from jamaica so always a crowd favorite i think.
loved the pink booties. great for photo ops.

always so fun to snap away at pictures and then put it on the computer and see what turns out. sometimes you get really lucky.
made it to the post office today and mailed off 6 packages. have been putting it off. didn't take too long i guess. the post office can be efficiently unefficient. was there are lunch and there was just the one guy despite a line. they just go one speed and don't get excited if another worker shows up to open a window, that just means the first worker is going on break. i let the girl behind me slip ahead, my good deed of the day. she was obviously there on her short lunch break and just had a package to pick up. she said her mom sent a package from taiwan for her son. i think i live far from family. the world has modernized so much.
the iditarod modernizes with it. more and more mushers have individual gps, all sleds have a gps locator so the teams can be tracked. cell phone service is advancing in all area's of alaska. soon they'll be tweeting from the trail no doubt.

people who don't live here have a difficult time understanding how remote it can be. spoke to my brother as he is currently dealing with his own fractured collarbone. swenson is older than him and mushing a team of dogs across alaska with the same fracture. just wondered what he thought of that. he figured the guy would stop and asked if they just drive out and pick up people who drop out. there are no roads. snowmachine trails at times, planes. the first actual village you run across on the race is nikolai and that is maybe 300 miles in.
love the rear view. the dogs are so strong out there.
this pair was very cute i thought. the dude with one shut eye probably just got hit with spit from the other dog. spit happens.

great tongue work out in this one.

allen moore is #5. he's run a few iditarods, best finish is 3rd. he's married to another musher, ally zirkle, who is also in the race.
more rear views.
they do get that happy look on thier faces as they run.
idaho musher, trent herbst, is a teacher. i think his class helps him prepare for the iditarod. the kids help build his sled. they've also sewn booties and packed check point bags. his best finish in 4 races is 48th so not seen as a contender, but what an inspiration he must be for his 4th graders.
#3 is ray redington jr. his is the grandson of joe redington. he's called the "father of the iditarod". he came up with the idea of the race and fought for it. he ran the race many times, finishing 5th in his best race at the age of 71. the race started in 1972. he didn't race in that first race but instead stayed in anchorage trying to get together the purse he'd promised to the winner. he passed away in '99, but leaves a great legacy. always cool to have a family tradition carried out through his grandson.
i believe last i checked redington was in the top 10 or close to it. he is a contender. he was 11th last year.

started making my to do list for next stretch off. had to add in get bumper estimate...drag. easy to forget about it all, but there it is. also need to get the taxes done. fun stuff...

dee dee jonrowe is always a favorite. she is a breast cancer survivor and always wears pink kuspuk. i probably spelled that wrong again. it's a native word. she ran in 2003 a few weeks after finishing chemo.
she finished second back in the 90's twice, and always seems to finish in the 20's position. a steady musher, but mostly, a crowd favorite and that is always good for the sport.

we had a crowd there this year. everyone brought chairs, except me, and nobody really sat on them.
joy did point out they make excellent cupholders. we were all out on the second lake. across from us was a group of snow machiners. there is always a big group on snowmachines at the other end of the lake. locals i believe.
linda, joy and sandra cheer on the mushers as they pass by.
melissa, tiffany and joy take a break from chatting for a photo op.
this is the scene on long lake that day just before the race started. i barely made it back from the first lake when dee dee passed by.
well, i am tired and that took longer than expected. good night all....

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