Yes, its one of those weekends of the year, when I’d rather be somewhere else. Not because of any personal issues, or anything, but simply because something special is happening, many thousands of miles from here. Hey, this weekend, seriously, you could offer me a choice of venues, but in the end, there’s only one I’ve wanted to visit for so long, and have to realistically face, I’m not really likely to get to. Yes, Alaska. Yes, its the start of the Iditarod. Indeed, the ceremonial start in Anchorage is going on as I type this. The race proper, starts tomorrow, a few miles away in Willow, of course.
Alright, fine, I am not designed for prolonged exposure to below freezing temperatures. Not sure I ever was, definitely not now, for sure! But all the same, would I love a look at the start of the most amazing long distance race there is, you bet I would! Oh, and fine, even more, I’d dearly love to be at Nome, for the finish, but that definitely is never going to happen, not in my wildest dreams!
So yes, yet again, I’ll be following it, via the internet, from the warmth of home, thanks to the Iditarod website. Do I mind who wins? Well, fine, yes, I’d love to see Lance Mackey do it again, but being realistic, its not so likely nowadays. So in truth, no, I dont!
Maybe one day, if, and when things are better financially, and I dont have any limitations on my time (due to the fact that practically, health wise, I’d have to take overnight breaks both ways to get there, and back, from here in the UK), I will get to Alaska, but I’m pretty sure it wont be at the beginning of March, even then. I doubt even then, that I will get to Nome (seriously, the fare from Anchorage alone is quite something!), but I might be able to walk in those paw prints, down 4th Avenue in Anchorage. Cant see it, but never say never…
Funnily enough, you’d also see some snow, and ice, from the other place I wouldnt mind being this weekend, even if its across the opposite side of the world.
I’m not a great fan of 20 over cricket, I prefer the 50 over, and multi day versions of the game, but fine, there are times… The 20 over World Cup actually starts on Tuesday morning, in India, which normally wouldnt be a Country on the top of my tourist list. But hey, given Ireland are playing their qualifying group matches in Dharamsala, literally set underneath the Himalayas, maybe I can make an exception? I first saw the ground when a match in that ghastly IPL was played there, and was taken by the setting, and the amazing buildings, and fell in love. Even then, I never imagined that 1 day, Ireland would be playing cricket there. Again, all I will be able to do is follow from home, but at least we get TV coverage of that.
Fine, money no object, and a special flight to get me there, where am I heading? Hmm? No, despite the fact that Dharamsala is a one off experience, and will be warmer than Alaska, still no contest, I’d see the start of the Iditarod tomorrow! Yes, I have no idea why, I have little, or no interest in mushing beyond this, but at 1000 miles or so, that race is just so special!
OK, the video. No shock, clue is in the blog title. I know, shocking, isnt it?
Yes, I know, thats not quite the line in the song, but according to the Iditarod website, thats the distance those teams of dogs will be ‘walking’ this year. Thats right, on Saturday, the big parade in Anchorage, and then on Sunday, the real race starts, from Willow, to Nome. For the leaders, about 9-10 days, depending on conditions, for some, nearly a week more, in temperatures way below freezing!
This year, its the northern route, so the ghost town that the race is named after, will remain quiet and peaceful, until next year at least. Though even so, one or two of the checkpoints on this route have a population count of less than 1 anyway! These days, its hard to imagine somewhere going from being a thriving town, to no one, but thats the gold rush, and Alaskan weather for you!
The irony, given all the freezing weather, and snow that has been dumped on the main 48 states of the US this year, that at one point a few weeks back, the concern was whether there was enough snow out on the trails for the dogs to run. Eventually, just over a week ago, the call was yes, and the regular route will be run. In case you’re wondering, they were going to restart further north, from Fairbanks, and then eventually connect to the traditional route further along.
I know I’m not from that part of the world, but contemplating such a run is way beyond my comprehension. For some though, its a way of life, and I admire them for doing it. Doesnt mean that one day, I’d love to be in Alaska, at the beginning of March, and see them off though. Suspect it wont happen before I retire though, and by then, the marathon flight, and the cold might be too much for my old bones anyway! But for now, I can still dream, that one day…Would also be wonderful to see the finish at Nome, but suspect thats even more steps too far lol!
The video, yes, the clue is in the title for those old enough (like me) to remember it. A live version though, just for a change
One last thing before I let you go. One hero of the Iditarod wont be running this year, the multiple winner, Lance Mackey, because of health, principally dental issues. I know, I mentioned it a while back, and a few might have given then, but at this rather apt time, the link to his fundraising campaign is
Yes, its that time of year again, when mushers and dogs set off from Anchorage (ceremonial only, Willow now the true start point) for Nome, covering about 1000 miles of Alaska in the process. You’ve got it, its Iditarod time! Starts Saturday folks, though the real long haul starts on Sunday of course.
Seriously, people enjoy covering 1000 miles of tracks, frozen rivers, and indeed at one point frozen sea, for the delights of winning a long distance dog race, you bet they do! Me, I think they’re crazy, but do I admire them for doing so, you bet I do! This year is my favourite route, the southerly one, purely because that means they actually pass through the ghost town of Iditarod, that the race is named after. Well, technically its named after the trail to there, but you get the point?
And finally, having endured temperatures that could easily drop to minus 40 and beyond, especially in the Yukon wilderness area, they finally roll into Nome, where they are quite rightly treated like heroes. It used to be easy to say that Lance Mackey would be amongst the front runners, but for the last couple of years, that hasnt been the case. I’m not sure if the Mackey era is over just yet, but it might be. But what he did, winning as many consecutive races as he did, amazing stuff. And such a nice guy too, from all I read and hear of him. No, I’m never likely to meet him myself, but have read too many people saying nice things about him not to believe it.
Fortunately, my holiday split means I should be able to follow most of the first week quite well, unfortunately the finish is likely to run into Cheltenham, but fingers crossed I can still keep an eye on things. One day I dream of getting to Nome, but given my age, the state of my knees for really long distance flying, and everything else, it probably wont happen, and will always be one of my regrets in life. Even Anchorage is pretty tough from here, but maybe, just maybe…I hope, even if its not at Iditarod time.
The video, what can I say, I dedicate it to all those brave dogs, who will do just this for 10 days or more, allowing for rest breaks of course, and thankfully there are plenty of them. The song, a true one hit wonder from 42 years ago!
Well its the life of a number of dogs in the far north of North America at least! What you ask, long distance sled racing of course!
I have no idea how I first got attracted to the Iditarod race across Alaska, so please dont ask. All I know is, its been a few (at least 4 or 5) years now, and I’m absolutely hooked on following it. I suppose the fact that I’ve always had a hankering for Alaska plays a part, but the thought of running a team of dogs, for over 1000 miles, in those temperatures, in that terrain, truly amazing. I suspect the fact it ends up in Nome plays a part for me, lol! But alright, the ghost town of Iditarod intrigues me just as much, even if they only go there every other year.
In recent years, there is one name that stands out in mentioning this race, Lance Mackey. You either have heard of him or not, but try checking him out on Wikipedia, to find out just how amazing. The thing is, unlike so many sportsmen, he seems a really nice guy. Competitive, yes, will to win, you bet, but when it comes to saying the right words, at the right time, he’s a consummate professional. There are many others as well, probably just as nice, but Lance is the one that seems to be focussed on, for obvious reasons.
Oh, and you think a thousand mile plus race, the field would be spread out at the finish? Well to some degree it is, but one year, not so long ago, the Iditarod was won by 8 seconds. 10 days out on the tracks, and the winning distance, 8 seconds. The Yukon Quest winning distance this year, nearly as long a race, 26 seconds!
Two weeks from now, this years race from Willow (Anchorage nowadays is only a token start point, due to housing build up in the area) will restart, and over 60 teams will head for Nome. Not all will make it, but the majority will. And before anyone says its cruel to the dogs, not one has died, or been badly injured in the last 2 years! Hopefully we get the hat trick this year.
But yes, I will only be following this over the internet, funnily enough.
No music tonight, just film of the end of this years Yukon Quest. If the Iditarod is also this close, now wouldnt that be something!