The First Step

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu


The journey to that 1049-mile race began today for many mushers. They took that first step to reaching Nome.

Father and son signing up, sisters signing up, and even boyfriend and girlfriend signing up. Jeff Schultz autographing his new book and taking photos.   Camera crews, junior mushers, rookies, veterans, even some old-timers, and many volunteers are enjoying a beautiful summer Alaska day.

Today the campers had the opportunity to go to the annual Iditarod volunteer picnic and musher sign up day at headquarters. The event began promptly at 9:30 with the first musher signing up at 9:32. Rohn Buser, son of veteran musher Martin Buser, was the first to sign up. Shortly after were Ray Redington Jr. and Martin Buser. Strange bit of information about the first three to sign up, they were all left-handed. Talking with Rohn, there are many mushers that are left-handed. As we watched several mushers sign up today, we indeed saw many lefties.

DSC_0907Starting at around noon, everyone enjoyed a wonderful lunch catered by Golden Corral. Lunch consisted of pulled pork or chicken, potato salad, Cole slaw, Cajun sausage, homemade BBQ chips, and a cookie or brownie. It was delicious.

After lunch many mushers continued to stroll in to sign up for the 2015 race. A huge treat was to see fan favorite, Aliy Zirkle. Mushers had until 2:30 today to sign up to be entered into the drawing to win back their entry fee, $3000. The winning mushers must be present to win. The first musher drawn was, Jan Steves. The second musher drawn was rookie, Ben Harper. Both mushers were overjoyed to win their entry fee back. Running the Iditarod is a very expensive sport, and anything can help.

 The last part of the day was to determine the order of the bib draw. The bib draw takes place at the Mushers Banquet the Thursday before the race in Anchorage. There were 60 mushers that signed up today that were drawn. You can find the order that these mushers will draw for bib numbers on the Iditarod website.

The deadline to register for the race is December 1. Any musher that registers from now until then will be placed after the first 60 mushers for the bib drawing.

I was able to officially take my first step in my journey today as well. At the picnic Jen Reiter officially handed over Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ to me. This is done through the handing over of the sleeping bag used on the trail. Jen did an incredible job this past year. I know I learned a ton through her posts and from just talking with her. I have big shoes to fill, but I look forward to the challenge.

It was very exciting to see all the mushers and volunteers sharing their stories from the 2014 race. You can see it in their eyes how much passion they have for this race and for what they do. I am very blessed to have been part of seeing people take their first steps. It’s very exciting for me to be able to say I will watch many of their journeys along the trail.