Our IDITAROD Ceremonial Start Video!

Having our girls be a part of the Iditarod Ceremonial Start was one of the best adventures ever! The event was beyond our imagination, Alaska was a piece of heaven, and the people were the nicest we’ve ever met. I told one of the girls that it was a once in a lifetime experience – and she politely disagreed, saying, “I don’t think so.” We’ll see!

Enjoy a slice of our experience 😉

Hike!

Iditarod Ceremonial Start

In downtown Anchorage, where C street meets 4th, I stood on a lane of snow right in the middle of the intersection. Against the blue sky, helicopters and drones hovered above. Down each road, people in parkas bustled about with harnesses and ropes as dogs howled. Sidewalks and rooftops filled with onlookers while photographers jockeyed for positions along the curbs. The ceremonial start of the last great race on earth was about to begin: The IDITAROD.

Month’s prior, when our 14-year old twin daughters received an invitation from the Berington twins to ride behind them on a whip-sled during the ceremonial start of the race, I half-thought I knew what we were getting into. For the first eleven miles of the race, the girls would be dog-handlers of sorts; working a secondary brake while helping with the dogs. After scouring youtube video’s and signing up to be an “Iditarod Insider,” I figured I’d grasped the event. Then I found myself in the middle of that intersection, jaw hanging open – in total awe. I realized, the event can’t be grasped. It can’t be described or taught or googled – to fully understand, it can only be experienced.

With our daughters participating as dog-handlers, my husband and I were given press-pass like armbands, which enabled us to walk right down the street to the starting line. We settled into a spot by the announcer’s booth, looked at each another, and just laughed. Under the rumble of the crowd, we knew what each was thinking, “how many parents get to watch their kids do this!?” In two-minute intervals, teams approached the starting line. The announcer enthusiastically read the musher’s bio while media cameras encircled the sled and volunteers held back the dogs. And as the countdown began, I witnessed a phenomenon. On the count of three; dogs began howling, on two; lunging, and on one; there was no holding them back. Who knew… sled dogs could count – backwards even!

It was so exciting for us to cheer on each musher because we had met many of them two nights before at the musher’s banquet. Honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever met a group more genuinely, friendly individuals. All of the mushers signed autographs and talked with our girls – encouraging them to follow their dreams. And we absolutely loved finding out about all of the traditions that go along with the race. I mean, come on…pulling each bib number out of a mukluk – priceless!! As the race progressed, the dogs got more and more excited. What many people don’t realize is that Alaskan sled dogs are born and bred to pull and run. Nobody can make them do it – it’s what they live to do. From their fur, stride, body length, and heart rate, they are pure canine athletes. And this race… this race is THEIR superbowl. If anyone has ever wondered how a musher gets his or her dogs to compete in a race, go to a race. The difficult thing isn’t getting them to go, it’s getting them to stop!

Our first daughter to approach the starting line was with Kristy Berington. She looked like a mini-me of Kristy’s – not because of the same braids or matching headbands, but because of the same excited smiles. Smiles that seemed to say, “this is what I was born to do.” And when our second daughter came to the line with Anna Berington… same exact thing. Two sets of identical twins with the same passion for a uniquely awesome sport. Another jaw-dropping moment. After both twins had taken off, we drove to the finish line outside of town. After the race, the girls helped Anna and Kristy with the dogs and then we had to say goodbye. Kristy and Anna were off to the official start in Fairbanks, and we had to head back to Minnesota. On the drive back through Anchorage, the girls told us all about the trail – hitting trees, tipping over, seeing moose… all of it, totally awesome!

And then, we all became silent for a moment. As each of us tried to process such an amazing day and stash it away in our memory banks, the bright midday sun illuminated the mountains that surrounded us… and I know, we all thought the exact same thing. We’ll be back.

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1000 mile trek starts today!

Three hours to go until the official re-start of the Iditarod Race! The first 11 miles of the race took place in Anchorage – that part of the race is purely for the fans. The second part, known as the re-start, is beginning in Fairbanks this year due to lack of snow in southern Alaska. But as you can see from Kristy’s video below, the decision to move the start was a good one! Via GPS tracking, we will be able to follow Kristy and Anna and root for them as armchair mushers – now that our part in the ceremonial start is over and we are now back in Minnesota. Visit Iditarod.com to follow your favorite dog team!

http://iditarod.com/video/kristy-berington-in-fairbanks/

Ceremonial Start!

It was a beautiful day and an awesome start to the 43rd Iditarod Race! The girls did their jobs well and even saw a moose on the trail! Posting a few pictures now and will have much more to blog about upon our arrival back home from this amazing whirlwind!

Downtown Anchorage - before the race!

Downtown Anchorage – before the race!

Anna and Chloe

Anna and Chloe

Kristy and Carlie!

Kristy and Carlie!

Chloe and Anna coming across the finish line!

Chloe and Anna coming across the finish line!

Crossing the finish line and immediately rolling in the snow to cool.

Crossing the finish line and immediately rolling in the snow to cool.

This is Alaska - the dogs get salmon for an post-race treat!

This is Alaska – the dogs get salmon for an post-race treat!

Watch the Iditarod live!

The race starts at 1:00 Minnesota time (10am Alaska time)! Carlie will be riding behind Kristy Berington and they are starting in 11th place. Chloe and Anna Berington are about 38th in the line-up. There are roughly 70 mushers and they take off at 2 minute intervals. There are two good ways to watch the ceremonial start of the race on Saturday in Anchorage. For the first time, the race will be aired in the lower 48 states on the sportsmans channel! You can also watch live streaming from Alaska’s KUU or KTVA T.V. – Here are three links:

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2015/03/04/iditarod-ceremonial-start-airs-live-on-sportsman-channel-for-first-time-ever-in-lower-48-and-hawaii/371071/

http://iditarodch2.tv/2015/03/iditarod-start-watch-it-live-coverage-begins-930-a-m-saturday/

http://www.ktva.com/category/sports/iditarod/