Yeah, I know it's not popular with everyone. You need not read if you don't agree with it. As someone who has worked with the sled dogs and mushers and seen the Iditarod in action (and met the officials and vet techs and everyone else behind the scenes) you're not going to convince me that somehow my eyes aren't seeing what's really happening. I've ranted on the other thread so I would like to not have to repeat myself too much.
The Musher's Banquet is tonight. I went last year, but can't make it this year (yes I am upset about that fact). The banquet is a fundraiser for the race (which has been hit hard once again thanks to PETA...), and it's also where the mushers draw their bib numbers (their starting number). It's good food, decent entertainment, and it's basically the last chance to hobknob with teh mushers before they get into race mode. You also see past stars of the race come out and support the sport. It's a pretty great party atmosphere, and the silent auction can get pretty funny when Dick Mackey starts pushing the price up.
There are 62 teams set for this race. Three mushers dropped out earlier this year for unknown (to me) reasons. This is the smallest number in recent memory. This should make for a quick race, so long as the weather holds. In fact, it was reported on Alaska wires that the Race Marshall says the trails the best he's seen it in years. But that could change in an instant. Alaskan weather is unpredictable and unforgiving.
I have a top ten list (I hated just limiting myself to 10, but I didn't want to write a novel) on my blog of teams to watch. I can't say I am completely unbiased, I do have my favorites, but I like so many of the mushers that I want them pretty much all to win (the only musher I really don't care for is Lance Mackey, but his team is amazing so it's hard not to get excited that he's back this year). Toni's Top 10 To Watch
Also, for Mathman, there are two blog posts on the Iditarod's Blog about the Vet Check that happened yesterday.
Eye on the Trail: Vet Check Day
Eye on the Trail: Have Truck Will Travel
What's interesting is in the first blog they talk about Lance Mackey's stepson. He reveals that if Lance wins this year, he'll be back for next year. If not, we might not see him. Good to know.
Other blogs/sites of interest if you want to follow the race this year:
http://www.iditarod.com is the official site and also has GPS tracking and the Iditarod Insider. Some parts are free, but it's a subscription to watch most of the videos and when the race gets close to nome the GPS goes dark to non subscribers.
http://www.iditablog.com great up to the minute coverage from armchair mushers
http://backstage-iditarod.blogspot.com another great armchair mushing blog
I could link you to a dozen or so musher sites, but most of them are commercial and I'm probably pushing it as is with Iditarod.com
I will also be blogging about the race when I can at http://tonichelle.blogspot.com and of course I'm going up for the Ceremonial Start this weekend so there will be pictures and impressions of the teams.
got questions? I can try to answer them!