It was a gorgeous sunny bright day in Willow, Alaska today when the sixty nine mushers and their teams took off in the order of bib numbers the mushers drew. My gal Aliy is running with number 10 this time but was the 9th to take off. (There was no bib 1; I think there is a story behind this but have to research the matter.) In the long run this start order doesn't make a lot of difference because an hour or even several that it takes for each racer to get a clear solo start will have minimal impact on the many hours they will be running. They get off at about 2-5 minute intervals. The dogs are mostly very hyper and this helps to avoid fights, getting teams tangled up etc. They generally start with sixteen dogs in the hitch so a team stretches out quite a ways to give each pair room to maneuver and run easily. As they go along, almost every musher will drop some.dogs that suffer a minor injury or are just getting too tired. They can get down to eight dogs--less than that is too hard on the animals left and they'd probably be forced to withdraw.
Added note: I learned that they actually add the time difference for each starter ahead of the final one to the mandatory twenty four hour rest that each musher must make somewhere along the trail. The playing field is as level as it can be made! (Despite climbing some pretty steep and high ridges and such--everyone has to do that too!)
It takes awhile to sort things out and often the early front runners do not hold that position for long. I will be following them by some GPS data, blogger comments and so on that I access through the Iditarod official website. I have a membership and "Insider" status that lets me see more than someone who just drops in or surfs there by accident. But anyone can see quite a lot! Here is the URL: www.iditarod.com That will take you to the home page.
Since there was a tragic situation of a dropped dog dying last year, there are new and even more stringent procedures for care of dropped dogs this time. Of course those with the musher get royal treatment at every stop. Vets check them all and they eat a rich diet and most sleep in open straw filled boxes at the stop over checkpoints. I know from having a couple of part Husky dogs in Colorado that they really do not mind sleeping right on a snowbank and out in the open air. They have a fierce metabolism and put out loads of heat. Anyway they are beautiful animals and you can really see the wolf in most of them. I won't bore you with a lot more on this but it's a passion of mine and I do enjoy talking about it!
Again, GO ALIY!!
Welcome to my World
Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!