It’s Really Happening!

Yesterday was the day it really hit home. The fact that I’m about to head out on this amazing adventure is now more real than ever before!

In the morning I attended the Musher Meeting.  This is a required meeting for all the mushers where they get their updates on the trail, take care of their last paperwork, and get their last briefings before they head out on the trail.  I felt like a kid in a candy store!  My heart was pounding and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!  I met Monica Zappa in real life which was amazing!  She has so much energy and enthusiasm for what she is about to undertake.  She says she is ready to get out of town and get on the trail.  She has 20 dogs ready to go and will make her final decisions this weekend.

The mushers I talked to all said that the committee is reporting that the trail is much better than people were expecting.  Crews have been working hard to keep the trail in great shape.

I also got to meet and talk with Nathan Schroder who is the musher I will be riding with for the ceremonial start.  I will have lots more on him tomorrow… but for now, he is a great guy and assures me he will not tip the sled on the big turn out of town!

At lunchtime, the mushers met with their Idita-riders for a pizza lunch.  It was so fun to get to hang out and chat with the mushers in a casual environment.  Monica’s rider is a fifth grade boy.  What an adventure he’s going to have!

Last evening was the Musher Draw Banquet so we now have a starting order for the race!  The evening was started with music from Hobo Jim, and quite appropriately the first song was The Iditarod Trail Song!

It was a wonderful evening filled with energy and excitement as the mushers dined with friends and fans, thanked their sponsors, drew their numbers and signed a bunch of

My son with Monica Zappa!

My son with Monica Zappa!

autographs.  For the first time, I actually stood in the autograph chute line…  my eight year old son is in town and he really wanted to get everyone’s autographs, so we did!  The mushers coming through the chute couldn’t have been more wonderful. They stopped and chatted, said thanks for the support, and were so excited to be there.

The countdown is on!  They are doing their last preparations today.  There are several volunteer meetings at the Millennium today and later the Idita-riders have a meeting to learn what to do with their special roles.  Tonight the city of Anchorage will prepare for tomorrow.  They will bring in the snow and hang the starting line on Fourth Avenue and then tomorrow it begins!  Can’t believe it’s really here!

Mini-Musher Banquet

I didn’t even really get to say goodbye to my students or my co-teachers…

The last day I was meant to be at my school there ended up being snow day!

That day was also supposed to be the day of our big “Musher Banquet” so, now that the kids are back in school after their five day extra-long weekend, they finally got to have their banquet!

The banquet was the time that they finally rounded out their Fantasy Iditarod Team by choosing the musher for their team.  When we first began our Iditarod Math Unit, they did some research and chose the sixteen dogs for their team.  You can see that lesson here:  LINK

Previously, we had also completed a series of probability lessons where we predicted the characteristics of the winning musher (male, veteran, from Alaska, etc).  In that lesson we created “musher stacks”.  There is one stack per musher and shows their gender, race status, and location.  You can see that lesson here:  LINK

When the day of the banquet finally arrived, the kids signed in to school on a board in the order of their arrival. This was to simulate the mushes “signing up” for the race, which in part determines their order for drawing their numbers.

At the banquet,  kids were seated at long “banquet” tables decorated with puppy print tablecloths and some extra copies of the centerpieces we had sent up to Alaska for the “real” musher banquet (more on that here – LINK).

The boys began the festivities by belting out Hobo Jim’s “The Iditarod Trail Song” and munched on Klondike Bars and cookies shaped like dogs and sleds.

When it was their turn to choose their musher, they went to the front in the order they signed up in the morning, reached their hand into the mukluk and drew out one the musher stacks from the probability experiment.  (In real life, the mushers to go the stage, reach into the mukluk and draw out a chip with a number on it.  That number becomes their starting number for the race).  The students then had to choose a musher from the board that matched the characteristics on the stack they had drawn.

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Once they chose their musher, they moved through the autograph chute and autographed some posters (not quite as many as the mushers do at the banquet!) and then proceeded to pick up their race packets. (The mushers will find their dog tags and the identification tags for their handliers in their envelopes, now that they finally know their start order.)  The students found biographies of their mushers, an Iditarod pencil, and a blank biography card in their packets.   While the others were choosing their mushers, they got started on completing the biography card of their musher that will be displayed with their tracking map.

Everything of course was photographed and filmed by the “paparazzi” from the Gilman/Anchorage Daily News and the Gilman/Nome Nugget!

I was sorry I missed the banquet.  By all accounts it was a huge success!  The countdown is on!