We have had a wonderful time at the start and the restart. Mike was very relaxed the whole time. (Much more than I was!) The dogs look fantastic. They are eating everything in sight and are enthusiastic and playful. We spent the weekend at the Inlet Tower in Anchorage, which is a great place to stay with dogs. It is very close to everything, but has a quiet parking lot for letting the dogs out of the truck. We were joined by good friends at the musher's banquet and Mike spoke memorably as he drew his bib number (27). He explained the mushers are not superheros and must rely on the help and support of many others. For us this includes our handlers, Nick and Lindsay, our families and friends who have helped us in so many ways, and our fantastic sponsors: Grainger, Ringers Gloves, Cantwell Veterinary Services, Denali Fly Fishing Guides, Ahtna, Cantwell Native Village Council, The Cantwell Lodge, Alpine Creek Lodge, Jindex, Marmot, Eddie Bower, Inlet Tower, Mix Grill, Wheeler EMS.
The ceremonial start went well. The dogs were relatively patient. I managed to make it to the starting line running in front of the team. (Believe me this is not easy.) Lindsay made it the whole way around on Mike's second sled with a smile one her face and her feet (and runners) on the ground. Mike enjoyed throwing hats, gloves, and earbands to the crowds from Grainger and Ringers Gloves.
|Photo thanks to Donna Quante|
The restart in Willow could not have been better. It was a perfect day. We saw all sorts of good friends, and the sent Mike off with a bang. Brandon, who got to ride the sled to the starting line with Mike told me they said they needed extra people to hold our team back.
|Brandon Lee popper-scooper and dog food stacker extraordinaire|
The final roster for the team is Icarus, Iowa, Hawkeye, Phoebe, Lugnut, Nestor, Oz, Patton, Clifford, Titus, Twain, Uber, Ziplock, Zazu, Clyde, and Lager.
|Mike's Sled Ready for Action|
While our dogs are not known for patience they waited for their time to start. There is a great video of Mike and Clifford, Zazu, and Oz on the Iditarod Insider. If you do not have a subscription yet, you have to get one. I am especially enjoying the GPS tracker which gives updates of location and speed every 15 minutes.
|Nestor in his one moment of waiting patiently|
|Photo thanks to Rick Wise|