Paws Along the Trail with a Welcome

Scott Janssen arrives

The Iditarod hasn’t come through the southern route since 2013.  Villages along the route are very excited to have the mushers, volunteers, and dogs come through.  In the villages I’ve visited so far, the children are also enjoying helping in various ways.  It’s a big deal in a village of less than 100 residents.  Think of it.  They see the same people, many of them relatives, all the time and then suddenly, lots of outsiders arrive, including famous mushers and dogs!

Nikolai had half days all week so the students could watch mushers come in.  Mushers actually ate in their cafeteria and slept in a room off that multi-purpose room.  In Takotna, the 23 students had Wednesday – Friday off to volunteer.  They also had chosen mushers and displayed their mushers’ information where everyone gathered to eat.

Today, I flew to McGrath and then onto Unalakleet.  We are ahead of the mushers, so people are preparing and setting up for their arrival.  Visiting the 183-student school here , we came across a map where they are moving the photos of the mushers to the various checkpoints.

What about all of you?  You have also contributed to the Iditarod in many ways.  At the musher banquet on March 1, the tables were decorated with centerpieces from classrooms throughout the US and Canada.  Many of you are cheering for your mushers and tracking the each day.

Some of you wrote letters or emailed the mushers.  While eating breakfast with Tim Muto and Anja Radano, they mentioned getting those letters.  “I answered all of them,” remarked Tim.  Anja said she did as well.  They both felt a little bit of pressure by one comment in the emails:  “If you win, I get to go get donuts in the library.”  Tim said he wrote back and said, “How about if I finish, you get donuts?” 

Tim Muto fresh off the trail this morning in Takotna

Have you written a letter or email to your musher?  It’s not too late.  They will not be able to answer everyone, especially during the race, but in the months to come, they will still appreciate congratulations emails and even drawings!  They DO read what you write!  This is a guide to writing letters to mushers:  Write to your musher