Sunday, March 13, 2011

Iditarod Competitors Grinding Away

The 2011 Iditarod is shaping up with some surprises. Long time competitor, John Baker was the first to reach the Unalakleet checkpoint 5:04 Sunday morning. After four hours of rest and a meal for both dogs and musher, the team headed for Shaktoolik. Baker is struggling fiercely with sleep deprivation.

The weather has been warmer than usual and for many teams the "heat" in the 20 degree range has softened the snow and made it more difficult to sled.

Four time consecutive winner, Lance Mackey, has conceded the race this year after losing a number of his lead dogs to exhaustion, muscle cramps and something he referred to as sled dog myopathy, a condition where the dogs' muscles break down. Mackey is known not only as a fierce competitor, but also for his amazing connection to and care for his team.

Dee Dee Jonrowe, a veteran of 29 Iditarod races is currently in 7th place in the standings having made it to the Unalakleet checkpoint at 11:04 this morning. The 57 year old breast cancer survivor found herself upside down yesterday, pinned under her sled along with an injured dog in water on overflow ice at the Yukon River. She managed to eject herself and the injured dog from the situation, right her sled and make her way to Anvik for an eight hour rest. She arrived there in 14th position with her sled and gear coated in ice. Despite her setbacks, her mostly inexperienced team is considered one of the faster teams in the race.

Here is video of Dee Dee Jonrowe at the start of the race in Willow last Sunday:

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