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2002 Iditarod Race Start

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AMDS Outdoor Adventures - 03/02/02
by Ken Baehr

AMDS Crew at Iditarod Race Start
AMDS Crew at Iditarod Race Start

Once again it is time for the start of the Iditarod. Again Chuck and I had the privilege of escorting the course marshals down the Iditarod Trail just before the ceremonial start of the race. We started the day at the Sullivan Arena at 7:00 AM. There we off-loaded our machines and headed downtown to the corner of 4th and E. Although we got there a good hour and a half before the start of the race, the street was already buzzing with activity. The news media were there in force and several hundred people lined the streets. A barber shop quartet sang the National Anthem, and there were American flags everywhere. At precisely 9:45 AM Chuck and I headed out of town fifteen minutes ahead of the first dog team.

As we did last year, our job was to ferry the trail guard supervisor, Sheri Underwood, on the trail ahead of the mushers. She checked for people, pets and safety problems on the trail. She also checked to make sure that all the trail guard volunteers were in place and that there were no gaps. And the end of our official run, Chuck and I stood by to serve as an on call taxi service, emergency errand runner, and all-purpose gophers. That was fun too.

This year we did things a just a little differently. In addition to our escort ride, some folks from Alaska Mining and Diving also rode the trail. Dudley Benesch, Linda Wilhelmi, Butch Clark, and Tim Mosely rode a group of Ski-Doos from downtown just behind Chuck and I. We made for a caravan of some six machines. They followed us as far as the VIP drop off point and then headed on to Eagle River to clear that section of the trail. Dudley was able to get a hold of two 2003 prototype “Rev” machines. Rev is short for revolutionary, and revolutionary is almost an understatement. These new machines force you to take everything you know about how a snow machine is built and forget it. The center mounted engine, new front suspension, forward mounted seat, and low center of gravity make this beauty as different from past snow machines as a World War II propeller driven fighter is different from a modern F-15 jet. It was kind of fun to ride down the trail with everybody ooing and ahing at the new equipment.

And They're Off!
And They're Off!

All in all we had a great day. The ride through the Anchorage Park trail system was gorgeous. The opportunity to see all the 2002 racers come across the ceremonial finish line with their VIP cargo was fun. I even got to meet Mr. Peterman of Seinfeld and GCI commercial fame. But, that was only the beginning. The next day Chuck and I joined up with Neil Moomey at Deshka Landing and followed the dog team up the Yentna River. I’ll let Chuck take up the journal from here. ‘Til next time, see you on the trail.

~ Ken Baehr

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