Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saturday and Sunday - Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod and Restart in Willow

We were up before dawn to start our volunteer jobs.  Mary was very successful in getting us assignments as chip readers for both the ceremonial start and the restart.  Each group of chip readers was assigned several mushers. We would approach the musher and explain that were were there to check the microchips that each of the dogs carries. The musher would identify the dogs that were to go out in the team and each chip was checked to verify that it matched with the dogs that had been declared earlier in the week.  At this point the musher is declaring who his team of dogs is to be.

An added bonus was The Running of the Reindeer (think the running of the bulls in Pamplona except with snow, drunk people in a variety of costumes or a lack of clothing, and reindeer).

Over the last few days we have become partial to a few of the mushers.  It is hard not to root for Lance Mackey as he goes for five in a row.  Wattie McDonald is also a favorite.  It takes a real man to mush in a kilt! Gotta love it!  And being from the tropics, we have all come to love Newton Marshall.  Newton is from Jamaica and is a protege of Lance Mackey.  Mary and I had the privledge of checking his dogs (see the photos below). When he heard we were from Florida, he gave us great big hugs.

We had a great day but are totally exhausted!  That's all for now...

  Breakfast Time

Running of the Reindeer

Restart in Willow

Mary, Barb and Laural at the Start Line

Barb and Mary with Newton Marshall

Mary and Barb Checking Newton's Dogs

Barb and Mary chip checking dogs

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