Sunday was left as a travel day. The teams had to load up the trucks and drive everyone and everything to Fairbanks for Monday’s Official Restart. It’s about a six hour drive for the teams. I had it easy, I hopped on a plane at 7am for an hour long flight!
Pike’s Landing Lodge and Restaurant is the Iditarod Headquarters for the Fairbanks portion of the race. By the time I arrived, things were in full swing: the store was set up and there were planning meetings happening.
There has been lots of talk about how the Fairbanks Restart would be in comparison to the 2015 start; the last time the race was run out of Fairbanks. One thing predicted to be the same? The cold. It’s COLD in Fairbanks. Really cold. Like Alaska in the winter cold! What is different is that they are going to take a different route out of town… they are going to go right between the hotel and restaurant, taking a sharp right hand turn then a sharp left hand turn to head down on to the river.
My main job for today was to help my good friend Sara check in volunteer dog handlers for the restart. Sara’s official Iditarod job is the Restart Dog Handler Coordinator. In addition to the Musher Handlers (handlers who help out specific mushers and are arranged by the mushers themselves), the Iditarod arranges for ITC Handlers. These are volunteers who will help several teams get to the starting line. There are ITC Handlers who helped out at the Anchorage Start, but with the move to Fairbanks, we needed a whole new crop of handlers. And Fairbanks delivered about a hundred people or so volunteered to be ITC Handlers. As they checked in I gave them the list of rules:
- no tennis shoes, cleats, or spikes
- no things dangling around necks or from their ears
- meet at at the truck in the musher parking lot at 8:30 the next morning
Sara and I wrapped things up for that day at about 6:00, had some dinner, and then tried to get some sleep so we would be all ready for the next day!