October 25, 2014

Ceremonial Start

Hi Boys and Girls,

The last musher just left the start line of the Ceremonial Start. I bet some of you are wondering why there are two starts to the Iditarod. The Ceremonial start is on the first Saturday of March every year. It takes place on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage. The dog trucks are lined up down 4th Avenue and on the side roads in starting order. The mushers and fans are able to talk with each other, have pictures taken and some fans are lucky enough to pet the dogs. A lot of mushers put special bandannas or dog coats on their dogs that represent their teams. There are 12 dogs on the ceremonial start team instead of the 16 that will be on the restart teams. A few of these dogs may not be on the team headed to Nome tomorrow. All the dogs still have had to have been checked out by the ITC vets but for one reason or another did not make the final team.

Every sled during the Ceremonial start has an Idita-rider. An Idita-rider is a person who has paid for the privilege to ride in a sled for the 11 miles they go today. What a great experience for these people. All teams also have what’s called a drag sled. A drag sled is a second sled attached to the first sled. This helps slow the team down. The dogs are so excited and there are so many spectators along the trail that a drag sled really helps keep the speed down and keeps it safer for everyone.

Once the teams finish the 11 miles they pack up the dogs and their sleds. They will now make their final preparations for the restart tomorrow. Hopefully they will all get a good meal and a good nights sleep.

I can’t wait until the start tomorrow.

See you on the trail,

Gypsy