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Mark & Karen
Ramstead
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North Wapiti Siberian Husky Kennels
Iditarod 2004 - Tales from the Trail

March 7, 2004

 
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The Anchorage start went off great. Dogs down, dogs up. Sleds readied, lines stretched. Dogs down for potty breaks, vet checks, microchip scans. Dogs up dogs down. Scooping and watering. In between wander a bit, look up other friends running the race. Look at dog trucks, sleds, dogs. Jeff King's new sled looked pretty innovative. I think I'd like to try that.

Up early this morning, barbecue steaks, eggs, and potatoes at 6am. Jamie West arrives, 6:30 load the dogs, 6:45 drive the 3 1/2 miles to the restart. What a joy to have such a short drive. Parking not quite half full, easy to get in and find our spot. Shelly at the entrance tells us if we need anything, find her, she's the one who will get things done. She sends a runner in front of us to lead us to our spot. Shelly tells him stay close to the front of the truck. "Not to close!", we all yell. And laugh. We're all smiles and teasing this morning, laughter coming easily. We get to our spot and as we look around, we realize there will be some trouble for the later arrivals. Whoever figured the parking doesn't seem to realize that the backs of trucks are the same width as the fronts. Not our problem, we are in our spot.

Unload sled, pack it. Don't need to drop dogs yet, they've only been on the truck 15 minutes. Dog trucks continue to pull in. People starting to show up. Full moon glowing in front of us over the lake where the start line is.

Karen and Mark, watching them work together is so cool. They each have the things they need to do, and they don't even hardly discuss who is doing what, it just gets done.

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All photos  SunHusky
unless otherwise indicated.

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The Moms. Mark's mom and Karen's mom. We set it up so they drove to Natalie's house (Howling Dog Farm) and rode in with Natalie. Karen got Natalie a VIP parking pass and her van was pulled up right to the starting line. The Moms (we've all been calling them that since before they're arrival) would walk around, and then sit in the van for a bit when cold. Seemed to work out quite well. They just arrived back here and said to say they had a fabulous time.

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Last time to drop the dogs. Harness them all. Stretch out the gang line. Put Karen's number 58 bib on her. Take some last pictures. Karen spends a last few minutes talking with Jamie Nelson. 


Photo by Janet Yeager-Elliott


Photo by Janet Yeager-Elliott

The volunteers here to help us get around the corners and down the small hill to the starting line are given a lecture on WALKING to the start line, not running.

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Other teams are crashing on the hill as the handlers fail to hold back the teams. And Karen's 10 second rule. At the countdown, when it gets to 10, all handlers let go of the line and step back, NO MATTER WHAT. Tangles, fights, after you hear 10, it's not your job, it's Karen's!!! The volunteers were terrific. We walked to the start line under complete control. Mark on the back of the sled with Karen. At 10, the handlers all jumped back 2 steps, in perfect unison. The Moms were on the side lines somewhere, but I was watching the dogs and never saw them.

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 GO!

Jamie and I walked out onto the lake to watch her come out of the corner down at the end of the lake. There she is, moving smoothly along the far end. Can pick up the light coats of Gus in lead and Moses in wheel. Then they move into the sunlight, there's the red sled bag and Karen's red coat.

Around the corner of the lake, along the far side, haw up the road off the lake, over a hill and out of sight.....and they're on their way.

Janet
Handler Howling Dog Farm

Karen's Diary - 2004 Edition


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