Are you watching the countdown timer? In just 5 days, the Last Great Race will begin for the 47th time. And preparation continues at a frenetic but organized speed these days. Because race headquarters is based at the Lakefront Hotel during the race, much of the infrastructure can’t be set up until shortly before the race. Last Thursday, under the direction of Stu Nelson, chief veterinarian, Jennifer, race communications coordinator, and Reece, race communications, a small group went to several units at a Wasilla storage facility and loaded up a U-Haul truck with education department, veterinary, and communications supplies. In Anchorage, more volunteers met the truck and helped unload it.
Since then, and behind the scenes, trail and Anchorage communications systems are being completed.
Sunday, February 24, was the first available day of COMMS training for folks working here in Anchorage as well as those going out on the trail.
Communication takes on many meanings when in remote, rural Alaska. Teams of 2 volunteers go out to each checkpoint with 1 to 2 boxes of equipment and serve as a communication team. To put it briefly, their role is to take in and send out all pertinent race information. Trust me, they also do a whole lot of other things which I will write about later, but here are some highlights.
You know all that great data you love to see updated at each checkpoint? That is one example of a communication volunteer’s work.
Multiple times a day, dog, musher, and race personnel information is communicated to the to the entities that need it. This may include Anchorage communications folks, other checkpoints, pilots, logistics coordinators, race judges, communications coordinators Reece and Jennifer, Stu Nelson, and Mark Nordman. Iditarod knows where every living being officially involved in the race is each day.
In this day and age of advanced technology, transmission is a challenge in the uninhabited and remote parts of Alaska. Along the route, communication can range from a satellite phone, cell phone, plug into the wall phone, to Internet access. No matter the level of device, though, transmission can be a challenge which volunteers out there are trained to resolve.
The Iditarod Trail Committee is dedicated to musher and dog safety and providing the world with accurate and up to date race information.