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Greetings from Anchorage!
I have been running wide open going from meeting to meeting, picking up gear, shooting shots and being involved in this incredible adventure known as The Iditarod.
It’s cold! On the morning of March 1, it is around 15 degrees with a 14 mph wind (which is like a sharp knife shooting in you) bringing the wind chill to around zero.
It’s 7 a.m. (11 a.m. back home) and still very dark. It looks like the middle of the night, but down below you can still see workers and volunteers setting the stage for what will be an incredible event.
This is the first day of the race. It’s the ceremonial start that encompasses 11 miles running from downtown to the military base just north of town. There’s no snow in the streets so dump truck after dump truck of snow was brought in overnight and spread out by front-end loaders to make the 11-mile run possible.
Tomorrow we take the two-hour trek to Willow to do the actual start (or “restart” as it’s known) for the 1,100 mile, 9-20 day run of The Last Great Race. (NASCAR doesn’t even come close to being as tough as this.) This is where mushers and dogs forge a relationship honed over months to endure this 24/7 run that ranges from blizzard conditions to flowing rivers.
Our team of Wounded Warriors will become Iditariders who will ride the 11 miles today in the sled of various mushers.
Due to the close proximity of the race I will be going outside to “test” some of my gear, but I think even the cold winter stuff I carried may be too chilly and I’ll switch to the really serious stuff we were supplied by Wiggy’s of Colorado. The stuff is amazing.
I have a layered group of clothing that is designed for this weather. The stuff from Wiggys is designed for the Artic Circle. I look like Jackie Gleason with the full suit on as I have probably about 5 inches of insulation all around once the bibs, coat etc. are all on.
The mittens and over-boots make my Artic gloves look like something a child would wear. That’s probably great if you’re just standing around or need to pick up wood or something, but I’ll use lighter weight stuff as it’s not literally that cold and I have to shoot with two cameras.
I am also scheduled to interview a team from the National Guard who will be in the race (this is the largest race ever in the history of the Iditarod with 96 mushers).
The National Guard team will be nearby, and I’ve already made arrangements to meet with them, shoot stills and footage as this will be a joint effort with the National Guard and N.C. State. One of their professors will be riding this morning in the 11-mile race from downtown to the military base north of the city.