May 27, 2024

Teens Attend Musher Meeting

Junior Iditarod mushers attended the mandatory musher meeting on race eve at Iditarod Headquarters. Ten Teen mushers has no evolved into nine Teen mushers as Joan Klejka from Bethel has withdrawn from the race.

Richard Plack the long time Junior Iditarod Trail Boss explained the trail markings to the Teens. The trail will be well marked with lath painted orange on top and marked with the letters “JR I.”  Plack informed the Teens that the trail would be hard and fast and reminded them about the warm temperatures and the importance of hydration for mushers AND canine athletes.

Carl Brooke explained the Spot Trackers to the Teens. The two units, one being a back up, each fit into a dog bootie and are attached to the front of the sled bag near the brush bow and the rear of the sled bag near the driving bow. Parents asked more questions about the tracking device than the Teens – can the help call be set off “accidentally” and how long do the batteries last. Well, a tab has to be lifted to get at the “help” button so, NO it would be nearly impossible to set it off accidentally. The batteries are good for six days. On to the next subject…

Barb Redington and Ann Meyers have worked diligently to secure prizes for the Teen mushers. Community merchants are happy to donate to the cause of the Junior Iditarod and are very generous. One might wonder why but the answer is simple. The merchants hear back from the Teen mushers and often receive pictures and notes expressing their thanks. Redington told the teens that between the Lynden scholarships and the goods donated by merchants and others who wish to support the excellent efforts of the Teens, the sum total of all prizes is between $12,000 and $17,000!

Surely one of the most exciting parts of the evening is the bib draw. Veterans Jimmy Lanier, Joshua Klejka and Conway Seavey will pave the way for the rookies with Ben Harper bringing up the rear. Sandwiched between Seavey and Harper are Andrew Nolan, Nicole Forto, Janelle Trowbridge, Kevin Harper and Ashley Guernsey. Bib numbers are listed on the Junior Iditarod website.

Kipmik Products of Anchorage donated 500 dog booties to the Junior race. Teen contestants drew for five prizes of 100 booties. Jim Lanier, Joshua Klejka, Conway Seavey, Ashley Guernsey and Ben Harper drew winning tags.

The Junior Iditarod Board of Directors announced the honorary musher at tonight’s musher meeting. They have chosen to honor Anonymous Wells Fargo Bankers for their generosity in helping the Junior Iditarod through financially tough times in years past.

Morning will be here before we know it and the race gets underway promptly at 10:00 with teams departing at two-minute intervals. The start has been moved from Knik Lake out to Buser’s Happy Trails Kennel to avoid undesirable trail conditions. The length of the race will be 124 miles. The forecast calls for upper teens in the morning to mid 20’s in the afternoon with clouds and light winds from the east.