Checkpoint and Trivia Tuesday: Shageluk to Anvik: What does the first musher to the Yukon River win?

"The journey of life is sweeter when you are traveling with a dog." - Unknown

“The journey of life is sweeter when you are traveling with a dog.” – Unknown

Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson

As we get closer to the race start I will be doing the Checkpoint Checkups every Tuesday to get all the checkpoints referenced. I will still incorporate the Trivia Tuesdays every other Tuesday with the Checkpoint Checkup. This week I have a guest writer, Regret Anderson. Regret is the lead dog of Iditarod veteran, Ken Anderson. Regret was named after a famous racehorse named “Risk or Regret.” I hope you enjoy his input on the trail.

My name is Regret and my human’s name is Ken Anderson. This will be Ken’s 15th year running the Iditarod with his best finish in 2008 and 2010 when he finished fourth.

We have a short run from Shageluk to Anvik. My human, Ken, tells me that this part of the trail is completely flat; I like flat, we can go so much faster. We also will be running on some sloughs, rivers, and portages, and then we will drop onto the Yukon River. This flat journey is about 25 miles and will take me and the guys about 2-3 hours.

When Ken wakes us up in Shageluk, he puts those comfy booties on our feet and hooks us all up. Since I’m a lead dog, I’m up front. I have the best view of all the dogs. When we leave Shageluk we head past this building that Ken calls a school and get back on the Innoko River. We don’t stay on the river very long before we get back on the flat land.

The next 15 miles is quite enjoyable for us dogs. We run across some swamps, lakes, and tundra while every once in a while we run through some wooded areas. Sometimes we get to run through some narrow sections in the woods. My buddies and I think the narrow sections are exciting, but Ken would prefer we not run him into any trees.

Wheel dogs

Wheel dogs

As we get closer to Anvik we start to see a great deal of timber. Just before the Yukon River we have to do some weaving in the woods. This is when my boys in the back, the wheel dogs, are critical to the team. We then come upon it, the Yukon River. I think it looks enormous. Ken tells me and the boys it is about a mile wide here. We are going to bend around a bluff and enter a slough. Once we exit the slough we will head into Anvik.

While we were checking in, I heard the checker say there is water available at this checkpoint which makes Ken happy. I hear Ken say we aren’t staying long because the next checkpoint is only 18 miles ahead. That kind of news makes me and my buddies ecstatic; we love to run. Since we aren’t staying long, I decide to lie down while Ken takes care of business with the checkers and vet. I heard some interesting information that made my ears perk up. The first musher to the Yukon wins an award called the Millennium Alaskan Hotel First Musher to the Yukon Award. The musher who wins this is awarded a five-course meal prepared by the Millennium Alaskan Hotel chef. He or she will also receive $3500 on an Alaskan Gold Pan. I told my teammates what I had heard; we were all jealous. Maybe the human of the dog team that arrived here first shared his meal with his team.  I know Ken would share with us.

The moment I think I smell a hint of steak, Ken stands on the sled and shouts, “Hike!” Time to leave Anvik and make a short 18-mile run to Grayling.

468 miles to Nome.  Next stop, Grayling.

Ideas for the classroom:

1. What does the first musher to the Yukon River win?

2. Regret says he will be running on “tundra.” What is tundra? Describe what it would look like to Regret and what it would feel like to him and his teammates.

3. Before Regret leaves Shageluk, Ken puts booties on his paws. What is the purpose of putting booties on the dogs’ paws?

4. Regret is a lead dog. What are the characteristics of a good lead dog?

5. Regret mentioned that the wheel dogs are a critical part of the team. What are the responsibilities and characteristics of a wheel dog?

6. If you got to choose anything for a five-course meal, what would you choose?

7. Who won the “First to the Yukon” the last time the Iditarod went through Anvik, in 2013? What was this musher’s meal?

Click here for the answers