Sleds off as 41st Iditarod race begins in AlaskaBy RACHEL D’ORO
The Associated Press | March 04,2013AP Photo
Jan Steves of Edmonds, Wash., greets a fan on the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday in Anchorage, Alaska.WILLOW, Alaska — Dogs aching to run bolted out of the chute Sunday to launch the 41st running of Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Now 65 teams will be making their way through punishing wilderness toward the finish line in Nome on Alaska’s western coast 1,000 miles away.
The Iditarod kicked off Saturday with an 11-mile jaunt through Anchorage, 50 miles south of the real starting line in the town of Willow.
Sunday’s event marked the competitive portion of the race.
Saturday’s ceremonial start took place amid a party-like atmosphere. But Sunday’s mood was charged with tension as mushers switched to the business of racing — at least among top mushers like defending champion Dallas Seavey and four-time winners Lance Mackey, Jeff King and Martin Buser.
They are among six past Iditarod winners in the running. Mackey, of Fairbanks, is the only musher to win the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod races the same year — accomplishing dual championships not once, but two years in a row. Mackey, a throat cancer survivor, has won both races four times and was hoping for a comeback to his last Iditarod championship in 2010.
Others are in the race for the adventure and never come close to winning, yet there they are, year after year. Among them was Cindy Gallea, of Wykoff, Minn., whose best finish was 33rd among 10 Iditarods so far.
“I love running the dogs, working with the dogs,” she said before the start of her 11th race. “ I love being in Alaska, being around the beauty.”
But even past middle-of-the-packers felt the pull of competition.
Scott Janssen, a musher whose family owns an Anchorage funeral home, said, “Today’s game time. Today we’re going to rock ‘n’ roll.”
To reach the finish line in the old gold rush town of Nome, the teams will encounter mountains to climb, and forests and frozen rivers to cross. They’ll possibly do battle with fierce winds and temperatures that can plunge to 50 below.
Along the way, they’ll stop at village checkpoints for a hot meal, to drop an ailing dog or to sit out mandatory rest periods. Sometimes they’ll blow right through after a hasty check-in.
As always, by the time the first musher reaches Nome, some participants will have dropped out of the race. Even the last place finisher knows that getting to Nome is a feat in itself.
The winner gets a new truck and a cash prize of $50,400. The rest of the $600,000 purse will be split between the next 29 mushers to cross the finish line.MORE IN Wire SportsNEW YORK — Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson and Seattle designated hitter Nelson Cruz have... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.