10 days remain until the start of the 2015 Iditarod. You can sense it, you can feel it, you can see it, and you can touch all things Iditarod here at the Millennium Hotel, Iditarod Headquarters.
Walking around the Millennium Hotel I can begin to sense a change. Tables are set up in different places, a mini Iditarod store has been constructed, and Iditarod volunteers are starting to crowd the hotel. As I walk around the hotel and observe the changes, I can sense something colossal is about to happen.
Sitting in the Flying Machine, the Millennium restaurant, listening to the many conversations developing I can feel a change. Discussions about upcoming meetings, logistics, volunteers, Fairbanks, and new checkpoints makes me feel something exciting is about to happen.
Talking with the many volunteers that are already setting up headquarters at the Millennium I can see the change. As you enter the hotel the first smiling faces you see are the ladies working the Iditarod volunteer registration desk. Anyone volunteering for the Iditarod must register with these ladies. On the other side of the lobby is a mini Iditarod store where fans can purchase official Iditarod souvenirs. Stu Nelson, chief veterinarian of the Iditarod, can be seen already walking the halls of the hotel preparing for the upcoming race. Volunteers doing jobs you may not even think of are working tirelessly in their hotel rooms. Did you know one job is to make official name badges for all those involved in the race? As you observe these changes you can see something immense is about to happen.
Wandering through the Iditarod store I can touch the change. T-shirts, parkas, hats, scarves, baby clothes, books, pens, pins, all things Iditarod can be touched in the store. I even had the opportunity to share a hug with Iditarod veteran and official Iditarod artist Jon Van Zyle while waiting for my pizza in the restaurant. Handshakes and hugs are experienced as friends meet back up with each other after a year apart. These experiences present to onlookers something grand is about to happen.
Something incredible is going to happen indeed. The exciting change that we all are beginning to sense, feel, see, and even touch is The Last Great Race. It is surreal to me to be part of this experience. Seeing what goes on behind the scenes and actually being part of the behind the scenes is a dream come true. This change is going to evolve into the fantastic race we call The Iditarod.
Ideas for students:
1. Make a list of all the jobs you think people volunteer for each year for the Iditarod.
2. Think of something big that is about to happen at your school or in your community. Write an article for your newspaper using the words sense, feel, see, and touch as your main topics of the story.
3. Who is one person with the Iditarod that you would like to shake hands with?
4. If you could buy one thing from the Iditarod Store, what would it be?