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Iditarod Preview

Iditarod map even yearsNext Saturday is Susan Butcher Day in Alaska, which means the start of the Iditarod.

As this is an even year, the race will use the northern loop from Ophir to Kaltag, and pass through lovely places like Galena [a former Air Force facility that put the COLD in Cold War].

If you had been paying attention there will be some familiar names among the 75 teams including Hans Gatt and the rest of the top six finishers in the Yukon Quest, as well as Sam Deltour of Belgium and Gerry Willomitzer of Whitehorse.

In addition to Sam Deltour the foreign mushers have Newton Marshall of Jamaica [completed the Yukon Quest last year], and Wattie McDonald and John Stewart of Scotland.

There are eight mushers in the Canadian contingent, four from the Yukon, two from Alberta, and one each from British Columbia and Ontario.

The real question is weather. The same pattern that has been sucking cold air into Florida has been pulling mild air into Alaska. I had Arctic Survival in March of 1968 and it didn’t get above -40°, so temperatures above freezing at Nome are definitely not what I would have expected. The Yukon Quest was held a week earlier than in past years and the temperatures were moderate, so people may have to consider changing the dates to even earlier in the winter.

13 comments

1 cookie jill { 02.27.10 at 1:10 pm }

Will they import snow?
.-= last blog ..our hearts go out to chile =-.

2 Bryan { 02.27.10 at 1:51 pm }

They have snow, but the problem will be whether the river ice is thick enough to run on. The trail should be packed now, so melt freeze cycles won’t make much difference as long as you stay on the trail. if you get off the trail you might break through the crust which will really bog down the team.

When it gets really cold it doesn’t snow, and what snow there is will be taken in “freeze drying”.

3 Kryten42 { 02.27.10 at 7:01 pm }

Jamaica?? Is that like the Jamaican bob sled team? Where do they go to train and practice, and where do they keep the dogs? They’d die in Jamaica! Even in Winter in Jamaica! 😐

4 Bryan { 02.27.10 at 8:44 pm }

Newton’s major sponsor is Jimmy Buffett of Margaritaville, and he has been training with Lance Mackey for months.

In Jamaica he runs a dog-powered tour business with dogs rescued from the pound, but the team leases the sled dogs from kennels like Mackey’s.

The Jamaican Dog Sled Team [that’s their actual name] has won some sprint races in Canada.

It is part of charity that rehabilitates people and dogs. Newton’s teenage years were not exactly every parent’s dream. People donate money based on how well the team does, and Buffett, the singer, covers most of the expenses.

The man completed the Yukon Quest, in spite of a nasty bit of frostbite, and he’s back for more.

5 Kryten42 { 02.27.10 at 8:50 pm }

Ohhhh… I see. 🙂 Well, good on him and the team then! 😀 I hope they do well… Charity is always a good enough reason to do what most would normally consider insane! 😉 😀

6 Bryan { 02.27.10 at 9:25 pm }

Well, yeah, he is insane, out there laughing while obviously freezing his nose off. I’ve never really trusted Jamaicans, they always seemed to be having too much fun in situations that were definitely not fun.

I had a good friend at college who was Jamaican, and he was always up, even in cold and miserable winters. I think it was the sure knowledge that he would be going home to Jamaica during the breaks.

7 hipparchia { 02.27.10 at 10:33 pm }

a jamaican! way cool! i had some good friends in college who were jamaican, from whom i learned some new cooking skills.

and running a dogsled tour with rescued dogs! in jamaica! even cooler.

good for jimmy buffet for supporting the enterprise. i’ve liked him ever since he was a nobody who sent a demo tape to my favorite local radio station back in the day. do radio stations even know what demo tapes are these days?

8 Bryan { 02.27.10 at 11:34 pm }

Jimmy does a lot of things in Jamaica and it is good for business to do good works, especially when it has the WTF potential of a Jamaican Dog Sled Team racing in the Far North.

They have a cart and run it along the beach, which is my idea of fun after seeing the real thing.

9 Bryan { 02.27.10 at 11:36 pm }

Oh, given that almost all radio stations are now programmed via computer links from a central corporation headquarters, I doubt most of the existing radio stations have the ability to play a tape.

10 hipparchia { 02.27.10 at 11:46 pm }

They have a cart and run it along the beach, which is my idea of fun after seeing the real thing.

i’ve always kinda wanted to run a sleddog team in the iditarod, one of those more fun to think about than really do things, but a sleddog ride on the beach? i can picture myself doing that.

11 Bryan { 02.28.10 at 12:17 am }

You could probably run a four-dog team with a wide-tired cart on the beach at low tide. The harnesses and tow line are the same, but you need steering for the cart.

The “authorities” would have a hissy fit over dogs on the beach.

12 hipparchia { 02.28.10 at 1:47 am }

it’s actually something i’ve thought of doing before, but i do have some [small] sympathy for the authorities in this case. the interesting places a tour might go to might also disrupt the birds and sea turtles, and the less-ecologically-sensitive areas would be crowded with tourists.

i wonder if a sleddog taxi service between the hotels, eating spots, and shopping would fly….

13 Bryan { 02.28.10 at 11:20 am }

A dog cart would probably be faster than walking, and certainly faster than driving, in Destin. There would be a major challenge to train dogs well enough that they not “investigate” things along the route, nor attempt to “converse with strangers” by chasing them down.