Teams have assembles at Pikes Landing in Fairbanks. It is crisp outside, conditions set up to be perfect. One thing noticeable this year is the different sled set ups. Back in 2006 ( I think ) it was the first time I laid eyes on a caboose sled, also called taildragger, or old mans sled. Immediately liking the design, I wanted one. Having used Gatt Sleds, I talked Hans into building me one. At first he resisted, he did not like the idea, but then built it after all.
Now over the past few years, sled designs have taken another whole evolution. Mushers are pulling trailers. The main purpose of these trailers is to load up dogs and have them rest on easy parts of the trail.
And with the Fairbanks restart, a lot of mushers must expect very easy going for most of the race, as trailers have grown. from a couple of feet long to up to 6 feet long. Ken Anderson said he can sleep in his and will put straw down. Others like Kelly Maixner are pulling multiple tailors. He plans on dropping them, as soon as he has does not have to step on the brake anymore.
Statistically speaking, no musher who has had a trailer sled has done well in Iditarod. Many have scratched. Although apparently Dallas Seavey had some kind on a trailer set up last year, which broke early on in the race. I think, if any year of running Iditarod set up to be good for this new design, this year it is.
Some mushers plan on resting 2 dogs at a time, others up to 6 dogs. That leaves 10 pulling and should settle the dogs in a nice pace. But what happens when the ” fresh ” dogs are added back into the team. How hard will they push the pace and what will that do to the dogs, who have been running before. That sure is going to be interesting to watch.
Other mushers yet, use traditional sit down sleds, yet a few even normal long distance sleds and even a few wooden runner basic toboggan sleds are in the lineup and I saw one old style lashed together led, all wood.
Here a few pictures from this mornings dog lot:
Happy trails Sebastian