A superb group of seven mushers are heading to Knik Lake in the morning for the start of Jr. Iditarod XLII. Earlier today mushers brought their dogs in for vet check. This evening they gathered for bib draw, pizza, beverages and race rule information. The field went from eight to seven when a musher withdrew prior to the required musher meeting.
Bib number 1 is reserved for the honorary musher – Barb (Ryan) Redington. As the mushers came forward to draw their bib number, they all had hopes and expectations of where they wanted to start within the group. Rookie Johanna Badalich drew bib number 2 and will lead the charge to Yentna Station. Rookie Cassidy Meyer will be the final musher to depart Knik Lake.
Teams start at 2-minute intervals. The start differential is added to the ten-hour layover for the restart time in departing Yentna Station Roadhouse. As an example, Johanna Badalich with bib number 2 will have twelve minutes added to the 10 hours of layover time. Cassidy Meyer wearing bib number 8 won’t have any additional time to make up.
The 42nd Jr. Iditarod has 1 veteran musher and 6 rookie mushers including one rookie from Sweden. Some of the rookies have started mushing within the last two years. Others began at a very young age. Anna Stephan is the sole veteran returning to the Jr. Iditarod. Stephan recently won the Willow JR 100.
Race officials shared detailed trail information with the mushers. With all the recent snow, the trail is expected to be soft and slow. The different configurations of trail markers were explained. Race Marshal, Cim Smyth, went over the rules with the mushers and their parents.
John Cooper of Kipmik Products donated 50 booties for each of the seven mushers. Barb Redington and Ann Meyer contacted local businesses to gather useful cold-weather gear that was presented to each musher with their bib and dog tags.
The Jr. Iditarod Board of Directors has named Barb Redington as the 2019 honorary musher. In recognition of her service to the race, Barb will receive Bib #1, signed by the Jr. Iditarod mushers, to wear at the start of the 2019 race.
Bib numbers for the mushers can be found at this link on the Jr. Iditarod web page. Check the website often over the weekend to follow the progress of the race. GPS tracking is available.