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Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Iditarod Trip, Ceromonial Start Day – Part II

After breakfast with the Brits, we moved to our regular lobby gathering spot to get our morning lecture from our guide Trenton. He gave us his rendition of Trenton’s Iditarod 101 speech and passed out a grid pattern of the downtown Anchorage area that positioned all the mushers’ pre-race staging areas. This made our morning goals much more manageable.

Dog Team Staging

Before leaving the hotel, Joseph, Sarah and I determined the racers and dogs teams we wanted to locate, check out and possibly talk with. Closest to where we were starting from was our old pal (just recently acquired) Dallas Seavey. But just before Dallas was his Dad, Mitch. That’s where we headed. When we arrived at Mitch’s staging area, we couldn’t locate him, so we headed just down the block to Dallas’ staging area. We were in luck; he was there.


Dallas Seavey checking over his sled prior to Ceremonial Race Start


Dallas Seavey up close shot prior to Ceremonial Race Start


Dallas Seavey with Mr. & Mrs. Dan Seavey (Granddad & Grandma)

I got a chance to speak with Dan Seavey at some length about how proud he is about what his son and grandson have done lately in their Iditarod runsat that time all four of the last four races had been won by one or the other. I took the conversation just a bit further and told him about my time in the Army in Alaska and how I had seen him and had provided petroleum support for the first two runnings of the Iditarod in 1973 & 74Dan finished 3rd and 5th in those first two. His comment was: “It’s good to see some old timers out to watch these now days!”

Just around the corner from Dallas’ spot was the Aily Zirkle Team. The area was packed around Aily’s staging area. I knew then we had hit it very lucky at Dallas’ area. All we could get here was a wave. So we soon we moved on to see the Dee Dee Jonrowe Team. Her Dad (and Dee Dee) was stationed at Fort Richardson when I was there in the early 70s. Again here there were so many people around her that we couldn’t get up close at all.

Moving down a street or two, we looked over a couple of Redington Teams and quickly moved over to where the Barrington Twins were staged.


Kristi Barrington hooking sled to an anchor (Pickup Truck) at Ceremonial Start


Anna Barrington prepping for Ceremonial Start


Finally it was Race Time and the Mushers were on their way. The trail today for the Ceremonial Start had been shortened to just three miles due to the lack of snow, but tomorrow’s start will be the real thing. The Rules of the Race require that the Mushers participate in the Ceremonial Start or they cannot run the big race at all.

Moved down the Shoot

Leaving the staging and Start Line, we moved down the shoot to get a better look at the Mushers as they past us on the way to the Cordova Street turn. We found a spot on the outside of a parking garage where Joseph could climb above the heads of those in front of us and take some shots of the guys we really wanted to follow as they passed.


Joseph Hatfield and Sarah Brien pausing during Ceremonial Start


Aliy Zirkle coming down shoot after Ceremonial Start


Aliy Zirkle mushing and waving to crowd during Ceremonial Start


Dallas Seavey mushing down shoot during Ceremonial Start
(That’s our old friend Jesse riding the whip sled.)

Running of the Reindeer

While we wondered around, we took time to stop by the Hard Rock Café and get Sarah signed up for the afternoon’s Running of the Reindeer. That’s a new event, only a few years old where locals participate in a charity event benefiting Toys for Tots. There were to be four separate runs: Guys, Gals, Couples & Groups, and Tourists. The guys: Joseph, Sarah and the Alexanders had all signed up for the Tourists Herd.

One of the local Radio Stations was reporting on the event. It turns out that they took so long filling in between the herds (heats) that everybody got tired of waiting. The fifteen reindeer had to be moved back down from the finish to the start area between each race and this took some time to accomplish.

The guys got tired of waiting and ended up running with the couples/groups herd. The actual run of the reindeer is accomplished by staging a female in heat at or near the finish line. Up until the point in time that the male reindeer get a whiff of the staged female, it is more of an amble than a run. The reindeer are more confused and just want the whole activity over than they are interested in running. Here’s the event page for next year:

I tried to upload some videos but didn't have much luck. I'll work at this and try again later. I think we will stop here and take this up again later.

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