I, myself, have never competed in a sled dog race, let alone the Iditarod (if I had, whether you'd have a Mad Blogger today is highly debatable...). But I have followed every Iditarod either Kristy or Anna have been in, blogging my way through most, with insights from the twins both before and after each one (and now, with cell phones allowed, sometimes briefly during!). I have never missed seeing them off the starting line, and this year I'll be reporting on-scene from both Anchorage and Nome!
So let's gear up, armchair mushers, and get a look at this year's statistics!
Total mushers: 52 (42 Veterans / 10 Rookies)
Women: 17 (13 Veterans / 4 Rookies)
Men: 35 (29 Veterans / 6 Rookies)
Countries Represented: 5. Canada, USA, Norway, Sweden, France.
44 mushers representing 7 US states: Alaska, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Wisconsin.
Dogs Off the Start: 728 (assuming each individual musher leaves with a full compliment of the maximum of 14 dogs).
Quick note on the trail: Mushers will again be running the southern route, back to the north-on-even-years / south-on-odd-years traditional schedule. There are 25 official checkpoints along the southern route that have drop bag supplies and vet/dropped dog services (excludes Golovin). There's allegedly a really good snow base over the majority of the trail which is great news. Continued earthquake activity in the region, however, has raised some concerns about the integrity of the ice mushers encounter periodically (particularly near the end along the Bering Sea coast). Teams are being advised to expect some modest trail re-routing along the way for safety.
Anticipated race miles (including the 11 mile Ceremonial Start): 998
All mushers had their drop bags of supplies packed up and in the hands of Iditarod officials by Feb. 14th. Each musher is allowed up to three 50-pound bags per checkpoint. Assuming each musher maxes out the option? Do the math... that's 3,900 bags with a combined weight of 195,000 pounds. Mushers also brought their dogs in for mandatory blood draws for testing and EKGs as part of their pre-race health screening.
This will be Kristy's 10th Iditarod and Anna's 8th. The combined miles they and their amazing dogs have covered in Iditarods so far would take them more than halfway around the world.
And it's often really really cold. Or snowing. Or both.
And they don't sleep much.
Food? Very limited options.
But the scenery is amazing.
And the capability and will of the dogs is astounding.
And for some reason, people like my sisters come back year after year, slowly racking up some pretty brutal miles that will eventually take them all the way around the world.
Pretty cool, eh? (I live in Canada now, for those readers unaware... but I know you know if that eh-bomb was for you).
That about does it for the Early Edition. I'll be back with updates from the start, including the twins' starting positions, their dog team bios, and pictures and behind-the-scenes coverage from both the Ceremonial and Official Restarts.
See you soon!