Checkpoint and Trivia Tuesday: Grayling to Eagle Island – Why do mushers put coats on their dogs?

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey." - Kenji Miyazawa

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” – Kenji Miyazawa

It is time to say good-bye to our young students of Grayling and head up the Yukon river to Eagle Island. This leg of our journey will be approximately 62 miles and will take mushers between 6-9 hours to complete. This section of the trail can be pretty wretched with the blustery wind and bitter temperatures. With the wind, temperatures can drop as low as 40 below zero.

This section of the trail is virtually nothing but river, wide open frozen river.  It will be very peaceful and quiet, to the point of being almost boring, except for the sound of the talkative trees and the beauty of the night sky. It is very critical for the mushers to stay on the marked trail as there are big sections of open water and thin ice. Another danger mushers may encounter is overflow from the side streams and possibly the river itself.

Eagle Island is a very remote checkpoint. The checkpoint is below Ken Chase’s summer fishing cabin. Ken is an Iditarod veteran who has volunteered the use of his land as a checkpoint. The checkpoint itself is actually a weatherport tent and facilities are minimal.

Eagle Island was settled in 1975 when the family of Ralph Conaster arrived at this spot on the Yukon River. Their way of life was commercial fishing and trapping. The checkpoint at Eagle Island used to be Ralph’s large cabin until it burned down. That’s when the checkpoint started using the large tent on Ken Chase’s land. Try to think of a luxurious tent, if you would like to call it that. The tent is heated and there is straw for the mushers and volunteers to sleep on.

Earlier I mentioned this section of the trail can be very windy. With this in mind it will be important for mushers to dress properly for this section to stay protected from the elements, especially their face. The dogs will need to be dressed properly as well. Coats, t-shirts, and fleeces are among the gear the dogs will need. Watch this video clip of Aliy Zirkle explaining how she gears up her dogs.

When the mushers leave Eagle Island they will journey north about 60 miles to Kaltag.

346 miles to Nome! Next stop, Kaltag.

Ideas for the classroom:

Why do mushers put coats on their dogs?

Why do mushers put t-shirts on their dogs?

Why do some dogs wear coats and others do not?

List all the gear you would wear if the temperature was -45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Several Iditarod mushers are currently running the Yukon Quest (another 1000 mile race) this week. Compare and contrast the rules of each race.

Which 2015 Iditarod mushers are racing the Yukon Quest?

Iditarod Trivia Tuesday: Which 2015 Iditarod musher is a former Jr. Iditarod champion?

"Do not give up, the beginning is always the hardest." - Unknown

“Do not give up, the beginning is always the hardest.” – Unknown

The Jr. Iditarod was started in 1978 to give young mushers an opportunity to race a longer distance. The first race in 1978 had two divisions, the junior division, ages 11-4, and the senior division, ages 15-17. Today there is only one division for kids ages 14-17. The Jr. is a 150-mile race that usually starts at Knik Lake and end at Willow Lake. The turn around, or halfway point, is at Yentna Station, an Iditarod checkpoint. At Yentna the junior mushers have a mandatory 10-hour stop, or layover. The winner serves as the leader, the first sled, of the ceremonial start for the Iditarod the next weekend.  Either the Honorary Musher or a representative of the Honorary Musher rides in the Junior Champion’s sled for 11 miles from 4th & D in downtown Anchorage to Campbell Air Strip. In addition to a Lynden Scholarship, the winner of the Jr. receives a new sled and two airline tickets to Nome to attend the Iditarod Finishers Banquet.

The Jr. Iditarod is traditionally held the weekend prior to the Iditarod. Not only do kids from Alaska participate in the Jr. Iditarod, but there are many kids that come from the lower 48, Canada, and even as far away as Spain. Many of the mushers go on to participate in the Iditarod.

To help you answer the trivia questions read Building Character and visit Jr. Iditarod.

Trivia Questions:

1. Which 2015 Iditarod musher is a former Jr. Iditarod champion?

2. Who won the 2014 Jr. Iditarod?

3. Who won the junior division of the 1978 Jr. Iditarod?

4. Who won the senior division of the 1978 Jr. Iditarod?

5. Who has won the Jr. Iditarod the most times?

6. How many 2015 Iditarod mushers have run the Jr. Iditarod?

7. Scholarships are awarded to the top 5 finishers. After reading Building Character, how are mushers able to spend their scholarships?

8. How many dogs are the junior mushers able to start the race with?

9. What year had the most finishers?

10. How many mushers are signed up for the 2015 Jr. Iditarod?

Click here for the answers.

Iditarod Trivia Tuesday: Meet the Mushers

"Every journey starts with fear." - Jake Gyllenhaal

“Every journey starts with fear.” – Jake Gyllenhaal

Can you believe there are only 67 days left until the start of the 2015 Iditarod race? The last Iditarod Trivia Tuesday led you on a scavenger hunt of the rule book. This week you will use the Iditarod website to familiarize yourself with the 2015 mushers. This is a great time for you and your students to get to know the mushers of the Iditarod.

There are 80 mushers signed up for the race from all over the world. Familiar names, unfamiliar names, new names, and big names are among the list of names to make the over 1000-mile journey across Alaska. There are sisters, brothers, fathers, sons, husbands, and wives, too, that are on this impressive list of names. I can’t think of many other sports where you have 18-year old kids competing side-by-side with 70-year old veterans, or men competing side-by-side with women. The Last Great Race is a nondiscriminatory event where the rules are the same for everyone.

Below are a list of questions and a writing prompt to help familiarize your students with this long list of names. While you are getting familiar with the names, explore the website. To locate the list of mushers, go to iditarod.com. After you are there, click on the Race Center tab and scroll down to 2015 Musher Profiles. You can view this list in alphabetical order with pictures or by list in the order in which they’ll draw their bib numbers.  The mushers’ entrant numbers on this list determine the order in which they draw.  To find out more about the musher, click on the musher’s name. You will be able to view a small biography about the musher.  Another link that will be useful for the questions below is view full career in the archives.

Good Luck!

Trivia Questions:

1. Out of the 80 mushers signed up for the 2015 Iditarod, which musher has finished the Iditarod the most years?

2. Which of the current mushers has the fastest time in finishing an Iditarod?

3. Which of the current mushers has the slowest time in finishing an Iditarod?

4. How many father/son mushers are signed up for the 2015 Iditarod?

5. How many 2015 rookies have attempted the Iditarod before?

6. Which 2015 Iditarod musher is the oldest?

7. Which 2015 Iditarod musher is the youngest?

8. Which musher has won the most amount of prize money racing the Iditarod?

9. Take a look at the Race Archives. How many mushers signed up have a relative that has won the Iditarod?

10. Look at the career summaries of the mushers. Which musher do you feel has the best chance of winning the 2015 Iditarod?

11. Writing prompt: Defend your answer to number 10 with factual evidence from the website. Include at least 2 facts cited from the website. You must also include your opinion.

Click here for the answers

Printer friendly questions

Iditarod Trivia Tuesday: Scavenger Hunt

"If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all." - Dan Rather

“If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all.”          – Dan Rather

Last weekend the journey to the Iditarod became even more real for Iditarod rookies. The weekend of December 6-7 was the Iditarod Rookie Meeting. All rookies attend this mandatory meeting. A rookie is a musher who is running the race for the first time or who has never completed the race. Several topics are covered during the meeting, from dog care to self-care. Taking care of the dogs is a primary focus for the mushers. Early detection of potential issues in the dogs was a major topic of discussion among the mushers. In order to prevent issues with their dogs, the mushers listened to veterinarians and veteran mushers talk about run-rest schedules. An equal run to rest schedule is popular among many mushers. For instance, running the dogs for three hours would require a three hour rest.

In addition to caring for their dogs, self-care was emphasized to the mushers. Sleeping, staying hydrated, and eating properly were among the topics. Veteran mushers described that there are going to be highs and there are going to be lows. It is important for the rookie mushers to focus on the moment and let go of the negative moments.

This week, Iditarod Trivia Tuesday  focuses on the rules of the Iditarod. This is a great time for you and your students to get yourself familiar with the rules of the race, since it is right around the corner. I am challenging you to a scavenger hunt. Give your students a copy of the Iditarod rules or allow them to use a computer to access the Iditarod website. You can make this a competition to see which student/group can find the answers to all the questions first. If your students are “experts” at the race, challenge them to answer the questions without using the rule book. The student/group to get the most correct wins. To access the rules you will need to go to www.iditarod.com.  Once there, click on the Race Center tab and scroll down to Iditarod Rules.

Iditarod Rules Scavenger Hunt

1. What is the minimum age requirement to enter the Iditarod?

2. What is the current entry fee?

3. There are 3 mandatory stops on the Iditarod trail. When and where must the musher make these stops?

4. The rule book states a musher must have certain mandatory items with them at all times. What are these mandatory items?

5. What type of dogs are allowed to race in the Iditarod?

6. A musher must qualify to run the Iditarod. What are the qualifications?

7. When will mushers draw for their starting spots?

8. When and where will the 2015 Iditarod start?

9. When and where is the 2015 Iditarod restart?

10. How many sleds can be used during the race?

11. What is the maximum/minimum number of dogs a musher can start with?

12. What is the minimum number of dogs a musher must have to be able to finish the Iditarod?

13. Can a musher substitute a driver to take their spot?

14. The teams do not start as a mass start. How many minutes apart do teams start the race?

15. What do the rules state about passing on the trail?

16. Are mushers allowed to use cell phones?

17. What is the maximum number of entries the Iditarod will accept?

18. How many pounds of food must be shipped to the checkpoints prior to the race?

19. What does rule 31 state about “Outside Assistance”?

20. Who is eligible for drug testing – mushers, dogs, or both?

Printer friendly scavenger hunt questions

Scavenger Hunt Answers

Iditarod Trivia Tuesday: Did you know Jeff Schultz is the official photographer of the Iditarod?

“That’s the beauty of art - we strive for perfection but never achieve it. The journey is everything.” - Rafe Esquith

“That’s the beauty of art – we strive for perfection but never achieve it. The journey is everything.”                    – Rafe Esquith (Iditarod musher Ed Stielstra named one of his dogs after Jeff Schultz)

1049 miles. This is the approximate distance of the Iditarod and Jeff Schultz gets to see every mile, every year. Jeff Schultz began snapping photos of the Iditarod way back in 1981. He was invited to photograph the race by none other than the “Father of the Iditarod,” Joe Redington, Sr. The first year Jeff had to pay for his own transportation along the trail. Then the next year, the Iditarod Trail Committee asked him to shoot photos again, but now they would transport him along the trail in their planes. This opportunity has changed Jeff Schultz’s life. To read about how being the official photographer of the Iditarod has changed Jeff’s life check out his fascinating book, Chasing Dogs.

Many things have changed in photography since 1981, one of the biggest being the change from the use of film to digital cameras. Around 1999, Jeff gradually started using digital cameras. By 2003, he was using digital cameras full-time. Jeff’s favorite part of the trail is between Finger Lake and Rohn. I asked Jeff what his favorite image was to shoot. He loves to take pictures that show the dog team small with a big landscape, especially with mountains. According to Jeff, “It’s the shot that says it all that people love.” To view some of Jeff’s pictures from the 2014 Iditarod click here.

Ideas for the classroom:

1. Jeff Schultz takes approximately 10,000 photos during the course of one Iditarod.  If Jeff is taking pictures for 15 days (Ceremonial Start through the Finisher’s Banquet), about how many photos does he average per day?

2. Jeff Schultz will publish approximately 200 photos to the Iditarod website.  Using 15 days, about how many pictures will Jeff upload to the website daily?

3. Roughly, about how many dogs has Jeff Schultz had the opportunity to snap shots of? Use the Iditarod website by going to the Race Center tab and then down to Race Archives to find out how many mushers started each race Jeff has been involved in. Let’s just suppose that each musher started the race with 16 dogs.

4. It costs about $13 to have a 35 mm roll of film (36 pictures size 4×6) developed. It costs about 9¢ to have one 4×6 digital picture printed. What is the price difference in getting a roll of film developed (36 pictures) compared to 36 digital prints.

5. What do you feel are the benefits of using digital versus film?

6. Challenge: Spell IDITAROD with your camera/phone. Using any device that has a camera, go around your school and take a picture that represents each letter of IDITAROD.  For example; I –  Ink Pen (take a picture of an ink pen)

7. “Caption this.” Look at the 4 pictures below. Write a caption for each picture.

8. “Zoomed in.” What do you think the picture below is?

DSC_2741Click here for the answers.

Iditarod Trivia Tuesday: How many mushers have signed up for the 2015 Iditarod?

“Everyone’s journey is completely different.” - Jeremy Piven

“Everyone’s journey is completely different.” – Jeremy Piven

June 29, 2014 was the first day mushers could sign up for the 2015 race. Each year on the last Saturday of June the annual Musher Sign Up/Volunteer Picnic takes place in Wasilla, Alaska. A majority of mushers will join in the festivities and sign up for the race. Signing up at the picnic gives mushers the chance to earn their $3000 entry fee back. It’s safe to say that is a great reason to sign up on site. If mushers are unable to attend they are able to mail their entry in. Mushers have until December 1 to enter the 2015 race.

Use the Iditarod website to locate mushers who have signed up for the 2015 race. When you arrive at the site you will have some more searching to complete. Hover over the Race Center tab and then click on 2015 Musher Profiles.  There are two options to view this page; 1. Alphabetical order with a head-shot, or 2. Click View Musher Roster as a list. Viewing as a list displays more information about the musher; name, sex, city, state, country, and status (rookie or veteran).

Questions for the classroom:

1. How many mushers are signed up for the 2015 Iditarod?
2. How many mushers are from the state of Alaska?
3. What is the percentage someone from Alaska will win?
4. How many mushers are from the Lower 48?
5. What is the percentage someone from the Lower 48 will win?
6. How many mushers are from a country other than the U.S.?
7. What is the percentage that someone from out of the U.S. will win?
8. How many mushers are previous champions?  Use the website to help you. Hover over the Race Center tab then click on Race Archives.
9. How many rookies are signed up for the race?
10. Rookie of the Year is awarded to the first rookie to cross the finish line.  What is the percentage the Rookie of the Year will be male/female?
11. How many females versus males are signed up for the race?
12. What is the percentage a female will win?

Challenge

1. Who do you think will be the 2015 Iditarod Champion?
2. Choose your top ten finishers.
3. Who will be the first female finisher?
4. Who will be Rookie of the Year?

Click here for the answers.

Read more about this summer’s Musher Sign-up/Volunteer Picnic in The First Step and Eye on the Trail.

Iditarod Trivia Tuesday: What reality T.V. show did Hulu produce in Rainy Pass?

Photo by Terrie Hanke

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” – Matsuo Basho

What number checkpoint is Rainy Pass?

How many miles is Rainy Pass from the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage?

What percentage of the trail have the mushers covered when they get to Rainy Pass?

How many miles does a musher have to go until they arrive in Nome?

What percentage of the trail do they have left until Nome?

What is the average temperature in Rainy Pass during the Iditarod?

What is the average temperature in your town during the Iditarod?

A musher left Willow with 16 dogs.  At each checkpoint they changed each dog’s booties.  When they leave Rainy Pass how many dog booties have they gone through?

Watch the episode below titled, Let the Winter Games Begin.  This episode is about the Iditarod traveling through Rainy Pass.  View the section starting at 24:25 until 34:00.  Have your students complete the following journal prompt:  Take on the role of Stevie or Jeff Schultz when they were on the snow machine.  Describe the scenery as you traveled from Rainy Pass to Rohn by snow machine.

Click here for the trivia answers.