Thursday, February 4, 2010

Break time

I'm taking a short break, and thought I'd use the time to catch up the blog.  The big 'thing' yesterday was the Yukon Quest start banquet, in which the mushers draw their bib and start numbers.  In the race, the mushers leave the starting line at 3 minute intervals, and 'start differential' is made up during their long layover in Dawson City roughly the half-way point of the race. 

For race fans, the banquet is an opportunity to hang out with the mushers, catch up on news, renew old acquaintances and refresh old ones.  It is one of my favorite social events of the year and I wasn't disappointed. 

I was seated at musher Josh Cadzow's table, along with our mutual friend musher Abby West.  Both are considered rookies in the race, though Josh attempted the race once before but scratched.  I really enjoyed meeting Josh and his girlfriend.  At 22, he's the youngest musher in this year's line up, but this kid from the village really has his stuff together when it comes to his dogs.  That shouldn't be suprising, the Cadzow surname is well known in sled dog racing circles, and one can make a logical argument that the Gwitch'n people may have been the first Indians (as opposed to Eskimos) to use dogs to pull sleds in Alaska.  Josh's team has been performing exceptionally well thus far this year, so it will interesting to see how well they do in the longer and tougher race.  I'm very much looking forward to meeting his team Saturday morning, at the race start.

The banquet we well organized, as Quest banquets tend to be.  The food we certainly not the highlight of the evening, but it was not a bad effort.  It's a catered affair so one can only expect so much.  Besides, no one goes to a banquet for the food.  There was the usual speechifying by local politicians and race sponsors, and then we got down to the serious business at hand - drawing for the start order of what promised to be an exciting long distance sled dog race. 

Race judge Emmett Peters, winner of the first Iditarod in 1975 and one of the most highly respected "old school" mushers in Alaska, told some stories of his experiences out on the trails that were highly entertaining.  He's 'been there' and 'done that', and of course has enjoyed some adventures in the process.  

Aliy Zirkle served as emcee for the draw, and did a delightful job.  The first and only woman to win the Quest, she is very well known and very highly respected.  She knows many of the mushers personally, and did her homework for the ones she is less familiar with.  Her easy-going manner of speaking and introducing each musher left a very good impression with everyone.  You can see a recording of her opening statements on the SP Kennel Dog Log.

Here are the results of the draw:

1. Abby West will be the first musher out of the chute, leading the way over familiar trails.

2. Zach Steer

3. David Dalton

4. Sam Deltour

5. Gerry Willomitzer

6. Katie Davis

7. Terry Williams

8. Jocelyne LeBlanc

9. Cindy Burrand

10. Normand Casavant

11. Lance Mackey

12. Brent Sass

13. Hans Gatt

14. Bart De Marie

15. Kelley Griffin

16. Jennifer Raffaeli

17. Ken Anderson

18. Mike Ellis

19. Pierre- Antoine Hertier

20. Sonny Lindner

21. Joshua Cadzow

22. Dries Jacobs

23. Hugh Neff

24. Peter Fleck

I got home from the banquet about 10:30, but couldn't fall asleep until after midnight.  After two weeks of working night shift, my circadian rhythm is till a bit messed up.  In any event, I've been doing most 'small stuff' today.  I fed, watered and scooped after my dogs before breakfast, and after a bit of chow I filled some Nor' West Company orders, gathered up garbage to go the dumpster station, made a run to the post office and bought fuel for the car, and now I'm getting ready to spend an hour or so outside, lovin' up on the fuzzy butts. 

I'm planning a quiet evening here at home and hopefully I'll be able to fall asleep a bit earlier tonight.

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