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Today is the actual beginning of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race of over 1,000 miles. This year’s field is quite diverse. One musher became age-eligible to race by turning 18 on Friday; another is 64 years old. Several countries are represented and there is a legally blind, young woman participating, too. She will have another musher staying close and in wireless radio contact with her to help her maneuver through some of the really rough terrain, avoid low-hanging branches, or eluding a moose on the trail. The race will take 9-12 days for all to cross the finish line in Nome.
There was a 10 mile preliminary start in Anchorage yesterday with the official start to begin today at Willow, a hundred miles above Anchorage. It is always fun to watch the dogs as they prepare to leave on any race whether sprint or long distance. The dogs are so excited they can’t be still. They yap and leap with anticipation and eagerness. They love to race! There is nothing they would rather do than be out on the trail.
One of the “riders” in the preliminary start was an 81 year old woman who was one of those in Nome to receive the diphtheria serum that was transported there by dog teams during the epidemic. She’s the last surviving recipient of the serum run, too. The cry for help came by telegraph and serum had to be shipped by boat to Seward. That Iditarod trail ran from Seward to Nome and several dog teams were used for that delivery, much like the pony express. Today’s Iditarod race is a commemorative of that dramatic first run.
My oldest daughter called from Anchorage this morning at 6:15. “Mom, are you awake?” she asked. “Yes” I answered. “Good. You’ve gotta go outside and see the northern lights! They are absolutely spectacular and the best I’ve seen in a long time.” Got up, put on my robe and went to see the vivid display. Unfortunately, we had haze and I could only see some of the brightness towards the north. Oh, well. I’m glad she wanted to share the beauty with me, anyway, even if it was a bit on the early side.
Well, today’s special treat was a big batch of fresh vegetable juice made with a variety of really good root veggies. The boys and I enjoyed large glasses of fresh juice over ice. You know it’s a good juice when the teenagers come into the kitchen to get some before it’s finished being made! Never lasts for more than 10 minutes!