Ready, Set, Go! Iditarod

For all the people outside of Alaska in the lower forty eight, the Iditarod  is something you may or may not have heard of.  Up here and to many fans around the world, its like the Alaskan Super Bowl!

Now that I’ve been in Fairbanks for almost 6 months, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to learn more about the mushing community, the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod. I was even able to drive a dogsled team myself out on the Tanana River this winter. When Togo Run an award-winning global health communications agency with offices in New York, Washington, D.C. and London asked me if I’d be their “on the scene” reporter to help with their campaign to Tell Togo’s Tale I was thrilled!

A link to the “Our Story” page on Togo Run’s website.

A link to Togo Run’s blog Unleashed featuring photos of me with some of the mushers and coverage of the events

So what is the origin of the Iditarod?

From Wikipedia: During the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the “Great Race of Mercy”, 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles (1,085 km) by dog sled across the U.S. territory of Alaska in five and a half days, saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic.

A link to the full description including a map of the Serum Run route

On a longer trail, but starting out in Anchorage and ending in Nome, the now famous 1,049 mile race first run in 1973 is the current day Iditarod.

The official race kickoff was this weekend in Anchorage starting with the Mushers Banquet downtown on Thursday night, then the ceremonial start on 4th Avenue Saturday, followed by the real start of the race known as the “re-start” on Sunday out in Willow.

I had a chance to speak with many of the mushers, fans, handlers and spectators;  the enthusiasm for The Last Great Race on Earth® was something I will not soon forget!

The Mushers Banquet

Me with Dallas Seavy, last years Iditarod winner and the youngest winner in Iditarod history

Me with Dallas Seavy, last years Iditarod winner and the youngest winner in Iditarod history

Anna and Kristy Berington pictured with Derek Ambrose nephew of musher Louie Ambrose

Anna and Kristy Berington pictured with Derek Ambrose nephew of musher Louie Ambrose

Hanging with Lance Mackey

Hanging with Lance Mackey

Martin Buser with some very enthusiastic school kids

Martin Buser with some very enthusiastic school kids

This years Yukon Quest winner-Allen Moore

This years Yukon Quest winner-Allen Moore

Not an empty seat in the house!

Not an empty seat in the house!

Ceremonial start Saturday morning on 4th Avenue, downtown Anchorage

Aliy Zirkle shows a little Togo Run love

Aliy Zirkle shows a little Togo Run love

Togo 6

Togo 8

Togo 7

There was no snow on 4th Avenue, dozens of dump trucks worked through the night to make sure there was a winter wonderland waiting for fans and mushers on Saturday morning

There was no snow on 4th Avenue, dozens of dump trucks worked through the night to make sure there was a winter wonderland waiting for fans and mushers on Saturday morning

They succeeded!

They succeeded!

4th Avenue alive with excitement

4th Avenue alive with excitement

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Musher determination

Musharazzi

Musharazzi

On By! Pass another team or other distraction-there, you just learned your first mushing command!

On By! Pass another team or other distraction- you just learned your first mushing command!

Race organizer rocking his lynx hat

Race organizer rocking his lynx hat

Musher Peter Kaiser

Musher Peter Kaiser

Musher and dentist, Kelly Maixner pictured with his wife Margaret and their daughter Rosemary (who is enjoying a pre-race nap)

Now those are some piercing blue eyes!

Now those are some piercing blue eyes!

The Official Iditarod Re-Start. Sunday March 3, 2013 in Willow

Dalla Seavy is off to Nome!

Dalla Seavy is off to Nome!

Me with musher Mike Ellis and his wife Sue

Me with musher Mike Ellis and his wife Sue

A veteran musher of 33 years, Dee Dee Jonrowe from Willow, AK

A veteran musher of 33 years, Dee Dee Jonrowe from Willow, AK

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Team Dee Dee making sure the sled is ready

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Musher Peter Kaiser off to Nome

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They’re off!

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Mini musher enthusiasts

Aily Zirkle on her way to Nome

Aily Zirkle on her way to Nome

Dee Dee heads off to Nome

Dee Dee heads off to Nome

Some close ups of the amazingly beautiful and brave dogs that make this race possible

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Here’s a quick video clip of Lance Mackey I took heading off on the trail as a reward for reading all the way to the end!

Thanks and see you in Nome!

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21 Responses to Ready, Set, Go! Iditarod

  1. Jamie March 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Love that last dog photo!! Makes me smile — thanks! 🙂

    • halcyonhighway March 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      Thanks Jamie and thanks for always following a long on the journey as well as your help with all things technology related you are the best! Look forward to hanging when I’m back in NYC!

  2. Eileen Fein March 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    What an amazing experience. And, I just love those dogs!

    Do they let beagles run? Manny would lose his mind. He would definitely take the sled off course but it would be amazing to watch. Mush!!!!

    • halcyonhighway March 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Manny would be in heaven! He could get all junk yard dog and bark to his hearts content it would be drowned out by the chorus around him, but boy would he have fun!

  3. Al March 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    It all looks awesome. Thanks for doing this. I’ve always wanted to go the Iditarod… now I don’t have to. Keep those details coming.

    Except… I am little frightened by the race organizer’s lynx hat, pictured above. Clearly, we’re not in NYC anymore.

    • halcyonhighway March 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      Do not be frightened of the hat, unless in my next post I’m wearing it!

  4. Barbara March 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Awesome pictures and really enjoyed learning about the Iditarod. Your writing always makes me feel like I am right there with you !!!!

    • halcyonhighway March 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks Barb, it’s always great to have you along on the journey xo

  5. Ben March 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Wait, “on by?” I totally thought it was “umbai.” Thank you correspondant Marc for clearing that up! Off to do some ski-drawing! Cheers!

    • halcyonhighway March 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Ben! LOL!! Clearly you were not paying attention Um Bai is my trail name 🙂

  6. Jen Ottinger March 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Wherever you go, my friend, I get to learn something new. Thanks for sharing these amazing photos and your fantastic experiences.

    • halcyonhighway March 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      Thanks Jen its always great to hear from you and I love that you are always with me in spirit. I remember our road trip from years ago and maybe one day we’ll do road trip Part 2 (with a cute little boy in tow who will share milkshakes at Friendly’s with me!

  7. Janet March 7, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    i love the boots on a team of dogs.

    • halcyonhighway March 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

      Thanks Janet, it helps keep their little puppy feet warm 🙂

  8. Linda G. March 9, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Fantastic Marc….the things I learn from you! Way to go on the reporting and blog…

    • halcyonhighway March 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks Linda! Glad you enjoyed it, stay tuned for part 2 from Nome!

  9. Britten March 10, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Marc- I’m not sure what to make of your mini-zztop beard, but (as always) the picts are phenom and to be able to have that experience is beyond compare. You are amazing!

    • halcyonhighway March 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

      Thanks Brit, I love that you, dad and everyone enjoy my stories and photos. It really makes the experience that much more meaningful when its shared!

  10. Kathy March 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Marc– (Kathy from Nome) Great pics and blog. Can’t wait until you do the finish and activites in Nome. That was sure a fun a ride out to Safety. The banquet lasted until 9:30, and we stayed to end! Didn;t know a banquest could last so long!!! Mike and I rented a car back in Anchorage and drove to Seward–breathtaking! I could do that drive every day.

    • halcyonhighway March 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      Thanks Kathy It was great meeting you and Mike, working on Iditarod Part Two now!

  11. Trish April 3, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    Great meeting you at the Dredge 7 Inn in Nome. Enjoyed your pics and comments on the start of the race and looking forward to the finish in Nome. We stayed till the Tuesday after the Banquet and by then you could fire a cannon down Front Street in Nome and not hit a thing!!. A group of us Aussies will be back next year to do it all again.

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