Before Junior iditarod Race day, every dog on every team that will run in the race must be examined by a veterinarian. The dogs were not too pleased about being pushed and poked and inspected, but all went well. Our teams passed easily.
On race day it was snowing like crazy! We took the sled off the top of the dogbox and it was covered with snow.
The dogs were very excited- they jumped several feet in the air and barked. But at the race start the dogs only go out one team at a time. Jeff's team was number 5 and Taylar's team was number 12- so we had to wait.
Finally a voice over the loudspeaker called out, "Team number five to the starting chute!" Jeff checked his lines and gave each and evey dog a hug and a pet. Then he pulled the snow hook and called out, "Let's go!"
The team ran to the chute and took off. They ran across a wide flat area and then Jeff mushed them up the hill. Then they were gone.
It was time for me to head out to meet the race teams out at the Yentna Station Roadhouse. It was 32 miles to the road house, but there was no road. So I had to travel the miles on a snow machine. It was a great ride- and very, very cold!
The Yentna Station Roadhouse was and is a great place! They have cabins like this.
Inside the roadhouse I met a lot of new people, Iditarod volunteers like me. Dr. Phil Meyers was there. He was the veterinarian that examined our team the day before. I also met Cathy Walters, the 2009 Teacher on the Trail. She was selected from hundreds of teachers to follow the Iditarod this year. She is really nice, too- if she is your teacher, you are very lucky!
Just after the sun went down the first team came in. They had covered 80 miles. All the teams were required to check in at the Yentna Station roadhouse, have their dogs examined, feed them, and bed them down. Each musher had to spend the entire night sleeping outside with their team. And it was already 20 below zero!
Here is a drawing of the vet check.... .
The Jr. Iditarod mushers had a big bonfire. Many of them sat by it and told stories. But nobody stayed up late- everyone was exhausted.
I found it hard to draw in the cold and dark.
In the morning, the teams would leave the Yentna Station Roadhouse checkpoint in the order they came in. Many dogs were resting, but Painter was sitting up, his nose in the air, sniffing. I wondered if he was trying to get a whiff of Ugly. I wondered if Ugly was there.
Race: Day 2
Jeff walked up and down the line of his dogs. He talked to each one, checked their paws, and put fresh booties on each dog. He was getting ready for when it was his turn to go.
We heard the first place team take off- and so did Jeff's dogs. They became alert and excited. Some were jumping up and down, some were whining- all were anxious to get back on the trail. Volunteers came by to make sure all was okay- it was time to go!
Jeff made one last check of the dogs, pulled the snow hook, and called out, "Let's go!" The musher and his team had 80 miles to go to the end of the race.
Dr. Meyers, the Teacher on the Trail, myself, and many others hopped on our snow mobiles and headed to the finish line. We'd get there a long time before the Jr. Iditarod mushers.
Several hours later, on by one, the mushers crossed the finish line.
The veterinarians examined every dog. Jeff and Taylar's dad gave them both big hugs- he was very proud of them
Then Jeff gave all his dogs a snack.
I think Painter was still looking for Ugly. But he did not find him that day.
It had been quite an adventure- and the two weary mushers fell asleep in the car on the way home.
And a very happy dog named Painter curled up in his dog house, all snug and comfortable, when he got home.