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North Wapiti Siberian Husky Kennels
Yukon Quest/Iditarod 2006 - Tales from the Trail

The Ceremonial Start

I know that some mushers charge for their Iditarod journals or only tell the tales in books, but I feel so much gratitude and thanks to all of you who support and follow our adventures that I think I owe all of you these stories.

As you read these entries, I ask you all to remember that none of it could have happened without the support and interest of each one of you.

Please never underestimate how thankful I am.

Who would have thought that the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod could become a routine thing? But yet, here we were for the 6th time and indeed, it was comfortable and almost routine!

We slipped down to our favourite restaurant on 4th Ave, where Mark and I don't even bother to look at the menu anymore - Eggs Benedict for us each time. We read the paper and speculated with our 'pit crew' - Colleen, Harry, Doug, Samantha, and Janet - over who we thought were the teams to watch on the Race this year.

We worked our way back to the trucks where, as in past years, fans were already hanging around waiting for the dogs to come out.

Iditarod did have a few little surprises for us this time. Instead of the normal, highly organized, like clockwork organization we were used to, parking was badly organized, it was hard to get volunteers, and things otherwise just didn't run as smoothly as we had seen in the past.

Despite a few unexpected stressful moments, the team made it into the starting chute on time - and Mark even managed to ride up to the line with me. The thought that he might not be able to, because of his leg, had been bothering me for the last couple days.

I got lots of comments on my 'paw' gloves - which, btw, I purchased at Title Wave books in Anchorage!

My team for today was:

Kara - Dasher

Loki - Odie

Herman - Hector

Draco - Barq

Junior - Crunchie

Batdog - Q

My buddy, Doug Grilliot, drove my second sled - always fun to have Doug along - and my Idita-rider was Kathy. She was super enthusiastic and declared herself an honorary Canadian for the day, as she proudly waved Canadian flags from her spot in the sled.

The trip itself wasn't the best - but the trend seems to be that if I have a so-so run on the Ceremonial Start, I have a good run out of the Restart. So I wasn't at all upset. I imagine the year the team rocks on that first 11 miles, I'll be a wreck at the Restart!

We made sure to get muffins at the muffin stop and stopped for hotdogs for Doug and Kathy at the 'Pitstop'. We tossed out booties filled with candies, waved, smiled and thanked everyone for their good wishes. Doug was behind me, mimicking race fans' cries of 'Oh, what a beautiful team'. I cut him some slack; after all, he's only ever done this run before behind Alaskan Husky teams - so he's not used to fans being overcome by the beauty of a dogteam.

It was a beautiful day and fun 11 miles - the smiles were genuine and heartfelt on my end.

Then the run was over, the dogs loaded into the truck, and time to focus on the Race, for real.



Karen's Diary - Yukon Quest/Iditarod 2006 Edition

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