Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mush On!

As any good Alaskan knows, there is little that embodies the sense of fierce Northern independence more than the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The Iditarod, a race of over 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome, tests dogs, mushers, and equipment through ice, blizzards, and incredibly cold temperatures. Good mushers know they are nothing without their dogs, and the best ones pamper their pooches year 'round.

The 2008 race starts March 1st with the ceremonial send-off in downtown Anchorage. And I get to be there, press pass firmly attached to my parka.

The start is a frenzy of dogs, sleds, and crazy people dressed in fur. Teams take up howling and barking as start time nears, and pretty soon they all begin a chorus; with over 1,000 dogs, that's a loud choir of yips and yelps.

My coverage of this race actually begins now, with the creation of the Fur Rendezvous guide for Coast Magazine, based out of Anchorage. My participation on start day is purely reward for hundreds of phone calls and interviews with mushers, veterinarians, and other bigwigs of the race. This race has intriqued me for years, and to be invited to move among the chosen few is the opportunity of a lifetime. Our family will also travel to Willow the next day for the "official start" of the race, about 90 miles North of town. From the front row we'll watch sled dog teams begin their odyssey, and hope everyone makes it under the burled arch of Nome.

I'll provide links to the race and other interesting tidbits of information as they are garnered. In the meantime, check out the guide to "Fur Rondy" as it is called, in case you are thinking of a mid-winter trip to the North.

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