Junior Iditarod contestants attended a symposium at Iditarod Headquarters sponsored by the Junior Iditarod Committee on Thursday evening. With just 40 hours to the start of the Junior Iditarod, the young mushers are enthusiastic and ready to pull the snow hook for the round trip journey to Yentna Station. At the symposium, the junior racers heard presentations from a couple of pros, a veterinarian and also received good advice on sled repair and first aid.
Martin Buser walked in carrying a cooler filled with chunks of food that would make any sled dog chase him down for a snack. Interestingly enough, Buser talked about presentation and variety! Sounds a little like Top Chef. Long and short, while snacking the dogs, it’s not about what’s easy for the musher, it’s about what appeals to the dogs.
Next up was Dallas Seavey. Seavey shared his clothing system including his unique footwear. Being the athlete he is, Dallas wears running shoes inside Joe Redington Mukluks. He likes this system for the agility it allow him in driving the sled and running beside the sled. The defending champ also talked about his checkpoint routine. His advice for the young mushers was to consider the conditions and then prioritize the necessary tasks. For example, if it’s warm getting straw on the ground for the dogs wasn’t his top priority. It’s better to get booties off and let the dogs enjoy rolling in the snow.
Rookie Junior mushers were presented with a sled repair kit and some advice from a seasoned musher/shop teacher. The teen mushers also listened to advice about basic first aid and safety. The phrase, “You can’t take care of your dogs unless you take care of your self,” was a common thread throughout the symposium. Prevention was the message from the veterinarian. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure especially when it comes to a dog’s feet, hyperthermia and frostbite.
The Junior Iditarod mushers will start their 150 miles race at 10:00 Saturday morning on Knik Lake, just a short distance from the homestead of Joe Redington, Father of the Iditarod.