What to Pack

Only a few more days before the race starts.  It’s so exciting.  Today is the vet checks at Iditarod Headquarters.  Tomorrow is the mushers meeting and banquet.  Watch the Iditarod website for pictures and updates. 

Anson asked me what is packed in the sled bag.  What a great question that is.  I’m sure several of you are wondering about that.  While there will be some things unique to each musher, there are mandatory (meaning they must have these items at all times) items that all mushers must carry.  You can get more information by going to the Iditarod main website and clicking on “For Mushers”, then go to “Iditarod rules” and it is rule #16.  Mandatory gear will be checked at the restart, at the mandatory 24 hour rest, at the finish, and at any checkpoint on the trail except Safety.

Remember that Mushers send supplies in drop bags to Checkpoints that they can pick up and use.  These drop bags contain extra food, booties, clothing, and any other supplies that a musher feels he or she will need at that point in the race.  Straw is also available at the checkpoints that the musher can use at the checkpoint or carry with them to where they plan to camp.

One of the most important items of the mandatory equipment is the Vet Book.  It’s a notebook that the musher keeps notes on each dog.  It contains how the dogs are running, what and how they are eating, and anything important about each dog that would indicate to the musher and to the vets how the dogs are performing.  This book is check by a vet at all the checkpoints and is signed by both the vet and the musher. This book must be in the mushers possession at all times and can be asked for by vets or race officials at any time during the race.  

The sled bag must also contain cooking equipment and food for the dogs.  A cooker, a pot able to hold 3 gallons of water, enough fuel to heat those 3 gallons of water to boiling, and food for the dogs is mandatory.  The musher also packs his or her food in the sled.  It would be too heavy to carry all the food and fuel needed so extras of these items are packed in the drop bags and sent ahead to the checkpoints. 

Other mandatory gear include an ax, a cable gangline or cable tie out able to secure a dog team, a cold weather sleeping bag, 8 booties per dog, 1 pair of snowshoes, and promotional material from the Iditarod Trail Committee.  The musher may also carry personal items with them.  These are not mandatory and could include extra clothing, music to listen to and something to play the music, sled parts, and emergency equipment. They also carry extras for the dogs like blankets or dog coats, foot ointment, and treats,

Mushers usually send 1-2 extra sleds to checkpoints along the trail.  This is incase the sled they are using breaks.  They also have extra runners, and sled repair kits. 

Wow that’s a lot to pack and carry.  It must take a lot of time to get everything ready to go.  I wonder how the mushers know what and how much to send to each checkpoint.  What do you think?

Well I’m off to get an update on the vet checks.  Hope you are following along everyday to see what is happening. 

Happy trails,