Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Going to the Dogs

When we were in Alaska 10 days ago, as we headed to the first hockey game of the day, we spotted this team truck, driving through the rain to the ceremonial Iditarod start in Anchorage. They hauled in massive amounts of snow to surface the Anchorage section of the race.

I decided to hold this post until the race was finished, but decided with the winner known, it was time to let it go.

Since Spencer's first Saturday game wasn't over until after the Iditarod started, we decided to stop at BLM's Campbell Airstrip which was the end of the 11 mile ceremonial run. Teams are presented in the order they arrived.

Thomas Waerner from Norway (bib #8) was arriving just as we got there. Thomas is a Iditarod rookie, but a highly experienced musher.

The team of #10, Cindy Abbott, was running barefoot. Cindy is from Irvine, California. She's climbed Mt. Everest, and she's started the Iditarod twice but had to scratch both times and is therefore considered a rookie.

Bib numbers (and therefore start sequence) are done by luck of the draw.

#11 Kristy Berington is now from Kasilof, AK and is competing in her 5th Iditarod race. Her twin sister, Anna, is also in the race.

#9 Kelly Maixner, is from Big Lake, Alaska. He is competing in his 4th Iditarod. He's a pediatric dentist and was once a semi-pro football player.
#13 Jim Lanier is a 74 year old retired doctor from Chuglak in his 17th Iditarod.

The ceremonial leg includes a second sled and two riders for each team. The rider wrapped up in the front sled is an "Iditarider" who was a high bidder in a fund raiser. Iditariders paid an average of about $2000 for the privilege this year. The second individual is a volunteer. It wasn't clear how they were selected for the honor.

#12 Nicolas Petit is from Girdwood, AK in his 4th Iditarod start.

#14 Gwenn Bogart is now from Wasilla, AK although she spent much of her life in Vermont. She's had professional careers in horsemanship and fly fishing. This is her first Iditarod start.

It was fun watching these teams as they came to the airstrip at the end of their first leg.

By the time we left on Monday morning, the weather had cooled to single digits bringing the clear cold that we've come to associate with winter in Anchorage. We spent time in the airport while the Iditarod restarted in Fairbanks for the actual race.

Ten days later, we have a winner! Dallas Seavey, age 27, arrived in Nome over 4 hours ahead of his father, Mitch, (who also won the Iditarod, twice) who placed second. Dallas won the Iditarod in 2012 and 2014 as well. Dallas and his team covered the 979 miles at an average speed of 4.6 mph.

Here's the status of the seven mushers shown above as of 9:24 a.m. Alaska Daylight Time

  • #8, Thomas Waerner, is in 20th place, having passed through Elim. He should be arriving at White Mountain soon.
  • #9, Kelly Maixner, is in 14th place, currently in White Mountain, 902 miles into the race. There is a mandatory 8 hour rest in White Mountain.
  • #10, Cindy Abbott, is in 69th place, the last team of those still running. She's passed Nulato, 586 miles into the race, and should be arriving in Kaltag in the next hour or so.
  • #11, Kristy Berington, is in 29th place, having passed through Koyuk, 808 miles into the race. Her sister departed Koyuk one minute ahead of her
  • #12, Nicolas Petit, is in 10th place, currently in White Mountain, 902 miles into the race. He's 5 hours into his mandatory 8 hour rest in White Mountain.
  • #13, Jim Lanier, is in 55th place, currently in Unalakleet, 718 miles into the race. He's been in Unalakleet for 11 hours at this point.
  • #14, Gwenn Bogart, scratched after Tanana, 227 miles into the race.


  1. Great post John. As usual your photos add so much to your post. Helen Rice

    1. I can sure understand your Iditarod interest
      I'd like to go back next year for the downtown ceremonial start, even if I had to miss a hockey game.

  2. Very interesting, John! Thanks for another unexpected adventure account!

    1. It was fun to be in the right place at the right time!