Today was the big day the teachers have been waiting for…..
Headquarters was a buzz today as mushers came in to sign up to run the 2014 Iditarod. Jason Mackey was the first to sign up in person, followed by Martin Buser and Aaaron Burmeister. By the end of the afternoon, lots of favorites had arrived: Allen Moore, Aily Zirkle, Scott Janssen, Travis Beals, Charley Bejna, Jake Berkowitz, Karin Hendrickson, DeeDee Jonrowe, Kelly Maxiner, Nicholas Petit (with his pet dog Ugly in tow), Ray Redington, Jr., Mitch Seavey, Jan Steves, Joar Ulsom, Cindy Abbott, Mike Williams Jr., and probably a bunch more I am forgetting! The teachers got right to work snapping photos and securing autographs to take back and share with their students.
The teachers and I also had a chance to meet several of the rookie mushers. We met Yvonne Dabakk, from Oslo, who will be one of several Norwegian mushers on the trail this year. She was super excited when she won the drawing for the free race entry! This means that her entry fees are paid for this year’s race. Since the fee is about $3,000, I am sure that is a very big deal for a rookie musher who is just starting out (especially one travelling from Norway)! Each year two names are chosen from mushers who have registered on sign up day to win the free entries. The musher must be present at headquarters to win. This year, three names of missing mushers were called before Mike Williams, Jr. was named as the second winner. Nathan Schroeder, from Chisholm, MN, who is the current John Beargrease Marathon champion signed up as rookie. I was especially excited to meet Monica Zappa, from Kasilof, Alaska as she has agreed to give us the inside scoop on her rookie preparations! Keep watching for updates from her!
It is a really international group so far with entrants from Alaska and the Lower 48, Norway, Canada, Jamaica, Western Australia, and New Zealand.
Even though everyone was excited to see who would sign up this year… today was also a celebration of and thank you for the race volunteers. The race would never be as successful as it is if it were not for the volunteers! The Volunteer Picnic provides a great way for the volunteers and mushers to get together and be able to show their appreciation for one another.