March 15, 2003


Your Iditarod Update for today.

Almost 30 of the 49 mushers who haven't scratched from the race are now in Nome.

The Red Lantern - the prize for the last musher in - is still up for grabs.

Looks like three rookie mushers, Adam Scott Gibler, Ellen Halverson and Russell Bybee are all traveling together in the back of the race. This is a fairly common custom, so no one gets left behind. It's a good strategy to have during your first Iditarod.

All the best stories come from the middle-to-the-back of the pack. The 19th place finisher, DeeDee Jonrowe is a perennial contender and an Alaska favorite. She ran the race only six weeks after getting chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Then there's Ken Anderson.

A story in The Anchorage Daily News today says his team was made up of a motley crew of dogs.

One of Ken Anderson's lead dogs is a pint-sized pooch who spent her early life lounging on a couch. Another doesn't know her gee from her haw. Anderson's budget is so bare-boned his Iditarider, after seeing other mushers and their entourages decked out in fancy matching outfits, wondered aloud why Team Anderson didn't at least have matching hats.

Sound like a candidate for the Red Lantern?

Guess again.

Anderson, 30, followed a team of seven dogs -- all females -- to fifth place and a $38,857 payday Thursday in the 31st Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "After I take a nap, it'll probably sink in. Realistically, I was thinking between seventh or 10th."

Another great story this year is that of Jessica Hendricks.

Only 20 years old, she came in 20th, right behind Jonrowe, and earned the esteem of the race's veterans in only her first Iditarod.

Here's a nice passage in this story:

Hendricks is a young musher with a promising future. Mushers who saw her along the trail spoke admiringly of her team and her handling skills.

"The sport's in good hands," said DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow, who finished one position and three hours ahead of Hendricks and observed the younger musher often during the race. "She knows what she's doing," added stepfather Kerry Babcock.

Posted by Jeff at March 15, 2003 11:18 AM | TrackBack