The sky was bright and clear. The temperature rested around zero. Excitement filled the air.
It was Ceremonial Start Day!
Today the teams headed off for an eleven mile warm-up run through downtown Anchorage. It’s a wonderful way for the fans to see their favorite teams and wish them well before they disappear in to the backcountry of Alaska, away from roads and tourists.
Today was sensory overload…. the colors, the sights, the sounds, the smells – it was just awe inspiring.
I headed up to Fourth Avenue about 8am and teams were already lining the streets on both sides and down most of the side streets. I said hello to friends old and new, and headed straight to Team Zappa! There was only one dog out of the truck…. yep. Dweezil. He’s going! He was so excited he was shaking! He can definitely sense something major is about to happen. Monica seems to be focused and ready to go. She’s a little worried about Dweezil’s anxiousness. She’s not going to run him in lead heading out, to try to give him a chance to adjust to the crowds and energy. Once she got her Posh House gear on, you couldn’t miss her coming in her neon yellow!
Since I was handling for Nathan, I headed to his truck next to pick up my handler armband. The race started at 10 am. Teams leave every two minutes. Nathan was bib number 62. So as you can imagine, there was A LOT of time to wait until we needed to get ready to head to the line. There was a lot of petting dogs, visiting with friends, and just hanging out. That’s the nature of the Ceremonial Start…. just a lot of fun excitement!
Once the race started, I discovered that Nathan had both the best and the worst parking space! Being right on Fourth Avenue, about two blocks off the start line…. we had front row seats to the parade of teams as they made their way to the start line. The dogs were resting back in the truck, away from the hustle and bustle, so all there was to do was watch the parade go by!
As it got closer to time for Nathan to head to the line it became apparent that hooking up was going to be interesting. Hooking up a dog team with other teams passing by in an endless parade seemed a little daunting at first. But honestly, his dogs were so calm and chill, they could have cared less. Booties on. Calm. Harnesses on. Hooked up to the gangline… that’s when the excitement started!
When we got the signal, we started to move the team up to the start line. And I remembered how good a parking spot he had again as we only had to go about two blocks! Usually getting a team to the starting line is a little tricky. You have to jog through the snow and we saw quite a few handlers fall and roll out earlier in the day! But, we made it to the line, heard the count down, and then the team was off on their eleven mile run!
Tomorrow is a travel day, as the teams and the race staff heads to Fairbanks to get ready for the Restart. This is when the race really gets started…. so it will have a totally different atmosphere.