Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We have a winner........

The Iditarod Dog Sled Race dubbed "The Last Great Race on Earth" was won today as John Baker, a native Alaskan, crossed the finish line in Nome Alaska.  Its hard to believe they have been racing since March 5th when we saw them start in Anchorage on that sunny cold day.
The Last Great Race on Earth     http://www.iditarod.com
You can’t compare it to any other competitive event in the world! A race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. She throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen river, dense forest, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the Iditarod. A race extraordinaire, a race only possible in Alaska.
From Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast, each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher cover over 1150 miles in 10 to 17 days. 

To an uninformed observer such as I was on March 5th I had no idea John Baker was a contender.  Everyone was expecting Lance Mackey to win his 5th in a row. In fact the volunteers we rode with on the bus back from the re-start in Willow Alaska "guaranteed" Mr. Mackey would cross the line first!  Sadly his race fell apart when 7 of his dogs became ill and had to be flown out.  He has carried on with only 9 dogs and last time I looked he was back in 16th place.

John had bib number 53 so sadly my southern fingers had almost frozen by the time number 39 came by, and I went indoors to thaw, so I don't have a shot of John's sled but I do have this shot of his truck heading back to Anchorage from Willow.

John Baker - Final Position: 1
Checkpoint: Nome
Time In: Tue, March 15, 2011 09:46:39
Dogs In: 10
Finishing Time: 8 Days 18 Hours 46 Minutes 39 Seconds
Average Speed: 4.98 MPH 

John Baker, 48, was born and raised in Kotzebue, Alaska. He began mushing in 1995 and was interested in the Iditarod after watching the Race in its early years. He ran his first Iditarod in 1996 and has been in every race since. He has 11 top ten Iditarod finishes.  Baker is self-employed and enjoys the rural Alaska life. He has a son, Alex, 22, a veteran of the Jr. Iditarod and a daughter, Tahayla, 8. A commercial pilot, he says his hobbies are flying and dogs.
"My" guy Wattie McDonald is still out there on the frozen trail back in 36th place but going well and expecting to finish which in this race makes you a winner no matter what time you cross the line.

I am now officially an Iditarod Insider and look forward to following the rest of the field as they cross the finish line in Nome and, who knows, maybe one day I will go to Nome to see them for myself!

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