After struggling with warm temperatures for the past two weeks, the weather in Jackson Hole was a system shocker. I was dressed for spring and quickly had to add some layers to survive the elements!! We also discovered a secret just for men to stay warm in the Hole.
Introducing the fur jock strap or as Al-Jo referred to it in her South African way; a willy warmer. If anyone’s interested, I can send you the name of the store or I bet Erin Redington might make you one!! Imagine a handmade crotch parka; gotta love it. Jerry said he was getting one with a removable ruff!! I’m thinking Mr. Stewart should get one so he’ll wear that damn kilt one day 🙂
Friday started without a hitch. Al-Jo had arrived safely around 11:00PM with a few stories and just in time to drop dogs. No rest for the travel weary on this crew. We started our morning with the traditional breakfast at The Bunnery and ran into Denny Albert and Andy Anderson. We were bummed to learn that Denny’s husband, Mark Nordman, would not be joining all of us this year as Race Marshall. Seems the Iditarod has him very busy this year. This was a total bummer as we’ll miss having Mark here.
Vet Check was fun as there are many new faces this year and it’s always a riot hooking up with old friends. It was a big family atmosphere with lots of hugs and laughs. Everyone seemed relaxed and ready to get things rolling. Ryan Redington is ready to rock-n-roll with a hat for every day. Day one was the Woodchuck hat!!
It was fun to learn the inside poop on all the teams. Here’s a few tid bits that folks might not know. Al Borak is driving our 2nd team. His goal this race will be to get the young dogs through the race and have fun with no pressure. If they finish last, that’s fine as long as they get through it with good experiences. He will only have a couple veterans on the team to help him out in a pinch and for some leadership. With the exception of a few veterans, most are two years old or younger and there are lots of new unproven leaders.
James Wheeler bought Lloyd Gilbertson’s Stage team and Lloyd flew in to provide race insight for the entire race. Two of the three Becks made it to the race; Richard and Brent. One of which has been training in West Yellowstone since December. Dave Turner had his dogs at Doug Swingley’s all season utilizing Doug’s training and IPSSSDR experience to prepare them for their rookie year. Charlotte Mooney joined Dave as his handler. John Stewart will be running the Streeper “B” team this year. William Kornmuller came without his dad, Bill, and is here to see if he likes this format of racing so the kennel can determine if they will make this part of their normal race circuit. Baily Vitello will now make history as the youngest IPSSSDR musher ever at the age of 14! Warren Palfrey is here with his son Sam. Sam recently graduated from highschool and told his dad he wanted to run dogs this year so he will be running their kennel’s “B” team. Marco Rivard hailing from Quebec drove some 4000 miles to make it to the race. This year the race will have two mascots as the Streeper’s and the Anderson’s both have their baby girls in tow. More gear for these teams to be concerned about; where in the hell is that diaper bag!?!?!
The theme this year seems to be trailers as most of the teams came hauling something. This is our first year with a trailer and it’s a tad concerning as I only have one trailer gear; “Go Forward”. If I’m required to go in reverse with this 27’ foot monstrosity; we’re going to have issues. I was fortune to have Lloyd chauffeur me and Al-Jo to the finish line on Friday night as driving through the streets of downtown Jackson with me at the helm could have been costly. I can seem me now dragging a few beamers down the side streets. I’m still negotiating with James on the fee for hiring Lloyd for 10 minutes. He was thinking 10% of race winnings and I’m thinking a coffee, but negotiating is still not over.
The race went exactly as we planned. Friday does NOT count towards your cumulative time, but it is strategic in that it determines your starting order for Lander. We wanted to be in the middle of the pack so it worked just as we had planned with both Bruce and Al going out 10th and 12th. It was pretty apparent that many teams were trying real hard to get the early starting order; when you hook down in a 2 mile race the gig is up!
We are on our way to Lander to start more festivities. We have a little concern today as it looks like the team has caught a bug, which is making its way through the dogs. Sooooooo we will be doing everything we can to get them on their feet for tomorrow, but this is not exactly what we had planned.