May 28, 2024

Picture Perfect Start for the Juniors

Junior Iditarod started this morning in nearly picture perfect conditions! Buser’s Happy Trails Kennel graciously offered their facility and it was a perfect setting for the start. The dog trucks arrived and parked in a circle a hundred or so yards from the start banner. From there the teams took off over Gretsky Lake to the far shore where the trail climbed over land. Gretsky Lake was so named after Wayne Gretsky the hockey player by the Busers as it’s where their boys learned to skate.

Kevin Harper's LeadersThe teen mushers and their families worked together to prepare the teams – packing the sleds, laying out the gangline, booting the dogs, harnessing and bringing them to the start line a minute before their appointed start time. It went like clock work on all accounts.

Of great interest were the tiny little spot trackers that were pinned to the sled bag. One was located near the brush bow and the other near the driving bow. The trackers have a battery life of six days. Two are being used so that there is a back up tracker and what the heck, they are very small.

At the Iditarod start, mushers are required to have a tag sled to slow the teams down as they approach the start line and then run through the trails of Anchorage to Campbell Airstrip. This morning, the tag sled to slow the teams down as they approached the starting line and hold them in place until their countdown reached zero was a snowmachine.

Junior Iditarod Board member, Barb Redington, expressed sincere thanks to Happy Trails Kennel for hosting the Junior Iditarod. With the trails as they are, a start from Knik Lake wasn’t possible. The challenge of moving to Glenallen or someplace north on the Parks Highway was formidable. Running out of Big Lake afforded the Juniors decent trail and kept the race in the area and the banquet at the Community Center in Willow.

The Iditarod Air Force has transported race officials out to the Yentna Station Roadhouse where the teens will layover. The banner has been hung, food bags organized and the parking spots inspected. From the Yentna Station end, we’re ready and waiting. As usual, Dan and Jean Gabryczak owners or the roadhouse, welcomed the Junior Race Officials and mushers.