As you may recall, I am spending the winter and early spring — maybe late spring too — in Alaska. Hence I am attuned to the fact that the Iditarod, one of the great sporting events of the world, is about to begin. This year the publicity has all been about the fact that unseasonable warmth has forced the start of the race to the north. It has, indeed, been amazingly warm; we have been going to and from the courthouse in the small town in south central Alaska where we are staying without coats, let alone hats or gloves. It’s been raining here, not snowing. But the race will go on, and will no doubt furnish much excitement before it is finished. A few years ago I was privileged to watch the real start of the race in Wasilla (not the symbolic start in Anchorage), and was deeply impressed by the spirit of the sled dogs, who love to run so much that in the first stage, they have to be slowed down by ballast towed behind each sled. It was a great experience to watch one team after another start off to the cheers of the crowd lining the track on both sides. The race would finish more than 1,000 miles later, after inconceivable hardships. This year’s race, despite superficially easier conditions, will no doubt be equally thrilling. Check out Iditarod.com for updates. The symbolic start will be in Anchorage on Saturday; the real start will take place near Fairbanks on Monday, March 3. Good luck to all the entrants.
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