The Iditarod starting banquet is a huge production, with thousands in attendance. At last night’s event, Susan Butcher’s huge accomplishments were honored. Major race sponsors (e.g. Wells Fargo Bank , Alaska Airlines, Anchorage Dodge Chrysler, GCI Telecommunications) took the opportunity to showcase their businesses. The Iditarod leadership introduced the organizers. Thousands of volunteers, from around the world, greeted each other and the racers. And, almost as an aside, each musher, 82 in all, thanked his / her supporters and chose a starting number. This event started at 5:30 pm and ended about 4 ½ hours later. The entire SP Kennel contingent was in attendance, except one! At our table were Aliy, Allen, Kaz, Ray, Mick, Doug, Toebe & Bob McDonald, Jeanne Reilly, Roger Wasson, Julie Verette and her son Mike. Poor Bridget was sitting in a plane on the tarmac in Nome and didn’t arrive in Anchorage until 2 am.
At about 8 pm, each musher was introduced in the order in which he/she registered for the Iditarod. Theoretically, if a musher signs up in June, that musher can choose a lower number and better starting position. Aliy was the 20th musher to register. She was called to the stage about 8:30 pm, thanked her family and supporters and chose #16. This is her lowest Iditarod start position.
Allen, on the other hand, registered in December for the Iditarod. He was the 79th musher out of 82 to choose his start position. He only had 4 numbers to choose from. Allen was called to the stage at about 9:50 pm, said “howdy” to the crowd and chose #71. Ten minutes later, we all filed out, tired, but one step closer to the race start.
Check the Iditarod at www.iditarod.com or the Anchorage Daily News at www.adn.com for the list of mushers and their starting positions.
P.S. The temperatures in Anchorage are much cooler than they have been for the last 2 Iditarod starts. Daytime readings have been 10º to 15º and nights around -5º. Wind gusts were clocked at 35 – 45 mph yesterday. The temperatures should remain in this range for Saturday’s start. Winds should decrease to 10 – 15 mph on Saturday.