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North Wapiti Siberian Husky Kennels
Iditarod 2003 - Tales from the Trail

March 27, 2003

Well, this morning is the first morning I've 'bounced' out of bed at my normal time (5am), so I thought I'd celebrate by starting my Iditarod journals! This morning - The Ceremonial Start.

Ceremonial Start

Finally, after all pre-race headaches with lack of snow, rain and warm weather we were ready to get this show on the road! As the previous years, we were one of the first trucks on 4th Avenue and were able to sneak down the road for a nice breakfast. By the time we got back to the truck, folks were mulling around waiting for us. We got half the dogs out and the smooshing began. 

One of the first people by the truck was one of my real heroes, Libby Riddles, the first woman to win Iditarod. Since I first ran in 2000, Libby has been very warm and friendly to me and my admiration for her has only increased. I got to play 'fan' and asked her to sign a copy of her book 'Race Across Alaska' for me. For those of you that don't know, it was that book that got me hooked on the idea of running the Iditarod. 

My precious Idita-rider, Megan showed up and got to meet the dogs. It was very obvious that she was used to large, boisterous dogs, as she showed no hesitation around any of ours. The dogs loved her and there was a lot of really cute photos taken of her and the team. 

With the exception of walking down the Avenue to wish fellow Siberian driver, Blake Matray a safe and fun journey to Nome, I stayed close to the truck and that was easy to do as there where so many folks to visit with. 

Jamie Nelson, gave me a few minutes of panic as we were getting close to my start time and she hadn't yet appeared to take her allotted place on my second sled. I really should know Jamie better by now - of course, she arrived in time.

Junior Iditarod finisher, Lynzie Bacchus got the honor of taking my leaders into the chute. Mark rode on the sled with me. I still find it such a rush to work our way by dog team up 4th Ave. I told Mark that the day this got 'old' we could stop doing Iditarod. He's not counting on that anytime in the near future!

They counted us down in the chute "3...2...1...Go" - and Smiley peed on the snow bank. *sigh* 

Thankfully, Smiley quickly came to his senses and we headed off down the street. For the first few miles things went okay, but after that the run was pretty dismal. I guess like anyone, even dogs are entitled to bad days - interesting how 7 of mine decided to have a bad day all on the same day. Freya was the only one that truly worked on the 12 mile run. 
Over halfway out I decided maybe taking Smiley out of lead would help, he just hasn't been having a good season, and I shouldn't have asked him to take on such a big job. Chester stepped up with Gus and that helped a little, but this still wasn't the team I had been driving all winter. 

Oh well, times don't count on the Ceremonial Run and I just wasn't going to let it get me down. We packed up the dogs and headed back to Wasilla. 


Karen's Diary

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