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In Other Iditarod News

The ‘Steps’ are back. After the start of the parade today, the Trail Committee had to put the Happy Valley Steps back into the race. According to reports from the trail breakers, heavy snow and wind conditions are making the alternate route impassible.

At least the snow should cushion the Steps.

These reports are not making me optimistic about possible conditions at Rainy Pass. That’s a nasty weather area most of the time, and if the wind is kicking up, finding the trail will be a problem. It sounds like John Baker’s record will be safe this year.

As you look at the list of mushers you will note a number of people have shared last names.

Seavey – Dan begat Mitch who begat Dallas
Buser – Martin begat Rohn
Redington – Ray and Ryan are brothers
Smyth – Cim and Ramey are brothers
Berington – Kristy and Anna are identical twin sisters.

Jim Lanier is breaking with his tradition and will not be running an all white team this year. He needed to fill in some positions and couldn’t find the dogs in his Northern Whites Kennel. At 71, even with a hip replacement he keeps on mushing. But then, Dan Seavey is three years older than Jim.

March 3, 2012   2 Comments

The Thing About Moose

I’ve mentioned several times that moose are insane. Except for cows and their calves, and a short time in the Fall, moose even hate other moose. People often end up shooting moose, because there is no other way of stopping their attack. Of course, under Alaskan law, if you kill it, you eat it, or get ready for a major [four trailing zeroes] fine.

If you have to shoot a moose to protect your dogs, even in a sanctioned race, you still have to stop and butcher the animal, then take several hundred pounds of meat on the sled with you. Hopefully the weather is cold or you are close to civilization.

The heavy snow this year is leading to more moose encounters than normal. Moose don’t like to break trail through the snow any more than humans do, so they will use any roads or trails they find.

Irving, a wheel dog on Karen Ramstead’s team was put on the injured/reserve list as the result of a muscle tear to a rear leg caused by a moose encounter on a training run outside of Willow.

On Friday, Demon, a new lead dog on Zoya DeNure’s team received bruises to his shoulders from a moose on a trail in Anchorage, across from a ‘Jiffy Lube’ and strip mall.

Zoya really wants Demon to run, as a reward, the ultimate ‘good boy’, because he is one of her ‘rescues’. I hope he gets his chance, but I doubt he will make the whole trip. Zoya and the vets will be watching him closely.

March 3, 2012   2 Comments

The Parade Went On

Sled DogThe Susan Butcher Day parade of teams that marks the ceremonial beginning of the Iditarod started at 10AM AKST [1PM CST] in light snow.

There is plenty of snow at the start, with up to two feet reported on the trail, but it is powder. It will be fast for the front, but the trail can break down, and the wind can move it around and create white-out conditions. You can’t make snowballs or snowmen out of powder snow, it doesn’t pack.

The real racing starts tomorrow from Willow with the re-start. I expect the experienced teams will move quickly to the front to avoid the trail breakdown.

There are four winners of the only the Yukon Quest, and four winners of only the Iditarod, as well as two, Lance Mackey and Jeff King who have won both.

Lance is in a rebuilding phase, with younger dogs, but he will probably add some more veterans to his Iditarod team than he used on the Quest team he just ran.

John Baker is back and there is no reason to think he will change his strategy of ‘cruise control’ that won last year. Velvet and Snickers will set the pace and John’s team will move along at their trot – the most efficient use of their energy. This is a distance team, not sprinters, and they can keep it up seemingly forever. Warm weather is the only thing that will really bother these dogs. They set the overall record time for the race on the tougher Southern trail: 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds.

The Mushers List is after the fold [Read more →]

March 3, 2012   Comments Off on The Parade Went On