Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Last Great Race

It's funny to think that I've lived here in Alaska over 13 years now and I've only seen the start of the Iditarod three times.  To be fair this time of year I was usually out working on fishing boats as a biologist in the Bering Sea, but every now and then I was in town to catch the end of Fur Rondy and the start of the Iditarod. 

Fur Rondy is the big winter carnival up here.  It was started in 1935 to help get people out in the winter.  It's become quite a huge event in Anchorage and in Alaska.  It ends with the start of the Iditarod.   One of the big things with Fur Rondy, which is short for Fur Rendezvous, is the pins.  It's a tradition that started back in the 1940's and the Fur Rondy Bobby's go around and "arrest" you and throw you into Rondy jail if you aren't wearing your pin!!  But they'll gladly sell you a pin to get out. It's a two week celebration of all things Alaskan and chilly and it's a blast.  I was surprised by all the tourists I met the last two weekends.  And they all seemed to be having a blast.  I don't think most people would think of Alaska as a winter tourist destination, but I guess some do.

This is what my pin looks like.

One of the traditions a group of friends of mine have started is the annual Iditarod tail gate.  The police block off a route downtown for the ceremonial start and we break out the portable fire pit, light up the grill and cheer on the mushers as they pass on by.  The actual start takes place the next day about 70 miles north of Anchorage in Willow.   It's also become a tradition for mushers to throw out used dog booties to the kids along the start.  Some of my friends kids made out like bandits Saturday.  I know one had at least 6.  I was hoping to maybe get one.  I thought it would be a great idea to make a couple relic cards out of a booty and give them away but alas I didn't get one.  Maybe next year.

There are some fan favorites up here.  Martin Buser being one of them.  His kennels are in Big Lake, Alaska about 60 or so miles north of Anchorage.  My friend was lucky enough to snag a Buser dog booty!! And inside he puts a custom trading card.  I would have loved to snagged that if only to scan it for you all, but alas I did not.  She ended up giving it to a friend's kid.  I'm sure after it's washed it will be an enjoyable keepsake.  It's smelled like dog poop.  How cool would it have been to been able to make some custom 4 time  Champion Martin Buser Iditarod relic cards??!!??  I think I might have to do TTM to him after the race. 

Martin Buser

Lance Mackey is another great musher currently in 5th and the defending champ, Buser is leading right now. Actually Mackey has won the last 4 Iditarods!! I think it's great.  A lot of mushers are taking the Iditarod to the next level by posting video and other stuff even during the race.  The race lasts from 8 to 12 days usually.  I guess this year the weather is so warm that it's making the dogs overheat and there has been quite a few mishaps already.

Lance Mackey, umkay.
It's funny the last time I got to see the start there were 3 guys from Wisconsin running the race, even one guy from my small hometown of Tomahawk.  This year none, but a nice spread with lots of Alaskans and Canadians with a sprinkling of everything else.  There's even a guy from Jamaica! Newton Marshall.

Well all have a great week and I'm sure I'll be posting updates. 

cb out.


  1. This post made me think about the movie Iron Will from the '90s. I haven't seen that in forever.

  2. Are there trading cards yet?