timistravels

My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Iditarod 2015, Nenana the first mandatory stop

on March 16, 2015

First Pit Stop: Nenana, Alaska

Monday, March 9, 2015

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all Vets had these armbands

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all the helpers/handlers had these arm bands

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the town of Nenana welcomed the teams!

Along the route there are mandatory check in points, mushers have 3 MANDATORY layovers, 2 for 8 hours and 1 for 24 hours. It is up to the musher to decide where to stop for these layovers and the layovers cannot be combined. This year with the alternative route, Nenana was the first stop. Nenana is 58 miles South of Fairbanks along the Tanana River.

 

Mushers need to stop, sign in, have their dogs checked by vets and gather supplies that were flown (or in this case driven) to these sites ahead of time, typically 1800 pounds is sent out in total. These (mostly mandatory) supplies include:

  • food for both the dogs and their humans,
  • straw for bedding once the teams stop to sleep,
  • back up headlamps and batteries,
  • an ax,
  • sleeping bag,
  • snowshoes,
  • stove and fuel,
  • 2 sets of booties for EACH dog,
  • arctic parka,
  • a vet log where the status of each dog is logged at each stop by a VET,
  • mail to be delivered in Nome,
  • parts to repair the sleds if needed
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supplies that were sent ahead of time

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food, straws etc all sent ahead of time

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food, supplies, and HEET to cook the food with!

 

I hopped in the car and drove  58 miles south from Fairbanks to Nenana.  It was fun to see the town of Nenana come out to welcome in the teams. There was food inside the Chief Mitch Demientieff Tribal Hall, and fires going for those visitors to come in and warm up. T-shirts were for sale, and the atmosphere was one of excitement and fun.   Outside each musher had supplies that had been sent /dropped off for them to pick up on their stop in Nenana. I wondered what the pallet of “HEET” was for and asked one of the organizers, they indicated that the Heet was used for cooking along the trail.

 

The day was cold but full of sunshine so if you waited in the sun it did not feel so cold. Nenana Schools offer a Residential component where students from rural Alaska can come and live in the Living Center and attend the public school. I befriended a few of the girls from the LC and enjoyed chatting with them as we awaited the teams.

 

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students from Nenana’s Living Center cheering on their favorite racers

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Martin Buser the first to cross the line in Nenana

 

 

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vets doing the mandatory check on each dog

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a vet checking one dogs legs, paws etc.

I was so excited to watch about 6 teams cross the check in point line and watch the handlers take care of the dogs, the vets do mandatory checks on each dog and watch the mushers grab the gear they would need for the next legs of the race.  I know some people think it is cruel and ‘animal abuse’ but I also think these dogs are bre d to do this work, with other breeds it might be cruel and abuse but not with these, they are so thrilled to be running.  It reminded me of how our lab was bred to hunt and swim, he loved those more than anything.  AND I have a friend that is a VET on the race this year and she is one of the biggest pet advocates I know, so I trust her opinion.

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my favorite picture of the race. Look at this handler giving love to the lead dog, this made me teary eyed

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I named this dog” Jumpy” because he was like this for about 15 minutes during the ‘rest’ period. He just wanted to run, run, run

 


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