Last year a couple of fellow junkies started Iknitarod on Ravelry. I joined, I made ravatars and I knit while forum talking to folks all over the place but especially in Alaska. One of our members even lives in Unalakleet, about 700 miles into the race and the first checkpoint on the coast.
This year we had more members who live in Alaska so heard even more stories in real time.
I love the spirit that the race embodies. I see mushers taking responsibility for mistakes and errors and triumphs. I don't see blaming or slacking.
It's heartening for me to hear the stories and see the racers and dogs trying to do their best.
If a dog is lagging or a vet deems the dog not up to going on then the dog is 'dropped'. This means the dog is taken care of as if she was royalty by volunteers at the checkpoints. Then they are placed onto Iditarod Airforce planes and flown back to Anchorage to await their musher or handlers. In Anchorage they are cared for by trained specialists at either the Millennium Hotel or the prison.
This year there were many mushers who scratched, some not even 125 miles into the race. In almost all cases the scratch was in the best interest of their dogs.
My favorite musher, Newton Marshall scratched because his dogs were losing weight and would not eat.
The rookie from New Zealand scratched because he felt his dogs were not up to par.
One musher was mentored along the race by both the head veterinarian and 2 leading mushers, Dee Dee Jonrowe (she wears pink for Cancer awareness)
and Lance Mackey. His dogs were losing weight and if they had continued to do so his team would have been pulled from the race, but since he is young but such a conscientious musher they figured out a way to help him while still leaving his integrity intact. The story is here.
Meanwhile we knit and knit and knit.
I completed a Mushing hat (see last post) and a pair of socks from a newly designed pattern - Wings on My Toes. Actually I had more on my list but once I saw the pace of this year's race, adjusted my sights accordingly.
John Baker, a native AK from Kotzebue, beat the 6 year standing record by over 3 hours, winning over $50,000 and a Ford Ram truck.
(John speaking at the Banquet in Nome with his daughter keeping close.)
Ellen Halverson, who came in last winning the Red Lantern Award, could have won the race with her time 10 years ago.
Me, I get to use this Ravatar with pride.