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North Wapiti Siberian Husky Kennels
Iditarod 2004 - Tales from the Trail

Iditarod 2004

The beginning is hard to determine. Months, heck YEARS go into planning and preparing for Iditarod. So when I say that my 2004 Tales of the Trail are going to start at the beginning, that is not entirely the truth. Where I'm beginning the 'Tales' is the morning of the restart, when 64 little dog feet and 2 human ones actually set foot on the Trail and began moving towards Nome!

 The Restart

Most years, wherever we are calling 'Home' in Alaska is NOT were the Iditarod restart will occur. In 2000, when we stayed in Willow, the restart was in Wasilla. In 2001, we stayed near Wasilla and the restart was in Willow. In '03 we were in Willow, the Restart in Fairbanks. Now here we are in '04, we are staying in Willow and the Restart is in.Willow!! Surprise, surprise! This means that we didn't have to get up at too terribly early an hour. Jamie, Janet, Mark and I all sat down to a breakfast of steak, eggs, hash browns and toast, which for the last 3 races has been my traditional pre-race fare. Many thanks to Janet for doing the cooking for us!

Then it was time to load up the dogs and head to Community Center. Nahanni stayed home, as I had already made the decision to cut her due to her being in season and I didn't feel we needed her around to distract the boys that morning either. But 17 other dogs were loaded in the truck, because I really hadn't decided for sure which 16 were heading to Nome with me.

Just about as soon as we got settled into our parking spots the hustle and bustle of Race Day began. The 'Pee Crew' was over drug testing a few of the dogs. Poor Herman, he is a very modest and somewhat shy dog and he was very uncomfortable about having to pee in front of so many people. I think if you asked him even now, he would tell you that was the worse part of the whole Iditarod for him!!

The microchip folks came by and it was time for a final decision on the Race team. Denali was the dog chosen to stay behind. I can't really explain that decision too much. Denali has had a good training season and is developing into a solid and dependable leader, plus he is a big cheerleader in the team, but he is Kobuk's brother and I knew that I would worry about him developing a similar condition to his brother's out on the trail. So I guess it was a decision based not on his abilities, but rather my insecurities.

So, the final Race team would be -

The veterans - Grover, Gus, Camilla, Chester, Surge, Draco, Olena, Squeaky, Loki, Odie and Kara

And the rookies - Crunchie, Moses, Herman, Hector, and Hilda

The morning passed quickly and in no time volunteers had gathered and it was time to hook up.

We had watched a number of the early teams have problems getting their teams down the hill to the starting chute and Janet took charge of explaining to all the volunteers and our own handlers that we were going to WALK the team down that hill. Everyone listened well and did exactly what was asked of them. I was thrilled at how smoothly and calmly the team was brought into the chute. I ran over and kissed 'The Moms' (my and Mark's Mom), who were next to the starting line and kissed Mark. Again, exactly as instructed, the handlers all stepped away from the team as the announcer hit '10' on her countdown. My previously calm team woke up and the sled jumped forward, catching the starters off guard. Luckily, they held on and we shot out of the chute as scheduled.

We were Nome Bound...

Karen's Diary - 2004 Edition

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