10 days to go until the 2008 Iditarod proceeds into mushing history with a record number of teams still signed up. Mushers from across the U.S., Germany, Norway, Sweden, etc. are doing final checks of team ability; most will not make a final decision until right before start time.
Idit volunteers in Anchorage are beginning the back-breaking task of loading up small airplanes for distribution drops all along the course. No small task, it takes hundreds of folks to make the drops happen; from private pilots who donate their time to young college kids who can heft a 75-lb bale of straw over and over.
Everyone is watching the weather closely, for, up until Sunday night, we had what was shaping up to be a fair trail for most of the way. Then here in the Anchorage area, it began to warm up. And up. Right now the temperature is in the mid 40's and pouring rain, and the two feet of snow we had over the past week is rapidly becoming but a memory.
My media credentials have been "approved" and now I must attend a briefing next week at the Milennium Hotel, the center of it all for the Iditarod, to learn all the must-do's and musn't-do's for the upcoming race. Since most of the media folks are from Outside, it makes sense to hold such a briefing, and we are asked to familiarize ourselves with the 60-page "Media Guide" beforehand. This Guide covers everything from fun facts to finding lodging in areas of the race where there is no lodging (read, you better like sleeping on somebody's floor), and what to bring/not bring.
On Sunday we traveled downtown to visit with some sled dogs participating in our Fur Rondy sprint races (races of around 11 miles through town and back), just to get ourselves excited about the Iditarod. Wolf had a ball patting and hugging and being loved back by some of the most delightfully well-behaved dogs, who, nonetheless, were excited about the commotion and the idea that perhaps they might be running soon. Bear and Yukon spent most of their time eating hot dogs and watching the trains at the nearby depot.
Mush on, everybody, and don't forget to visit the Official Iditarod Web Site at http://www.iditarod.com/, or the Anchorage Daily News at http://www.adn.com/ for regular updates and interesting stories.
Yes, we might be getting some more anti-race comments, but we'll take 'em. After all, they are there, and we are here!