Sunday, January 6, 2008

Knik 200 Sled Dog Race - Jan. 5


We went to the Knik 200 Sled Dog Race on Saturday, January 5. The race started on Knik Lake (about 15 miles from our house). We were able to go out among the mushers and their teams as they got ready for the start of the race. There were about 30 teams. The length of the race was 200 miles. They went out 100 miles, had a mandatory 6 hour rest time and then returned to the finish line on the same lake where they started. The first team started at 11:00 AM. Mushers will start crossing the finish line at about 8:00 Sunday morning. That means they travel the entire distance back to the finish in the dark. This race is a qualifying race for the Iditarod.
A team was started about every three minutes. The dogs are so anxious to run that as the sled approaches the starting line, they have "catchers" (people who catch and hold the sled as the dogs are trying to pull it). The catchers hold the sled at the start line until the countdown and command to go are given to the musher.

As soon as one team gets hitched up, all the other dogs start barking and jumping. They are ready to go too, and do not want to be left behind. There are three or four dog handlers with most teams. As the dogs are waiting for the command to go, they bark and jump and sometimes get tangled among themselves. The handlers try to prevent this so they are ready to head straight out at "go time". (See videos below)
There were people of all ages there to watch the race start and help the mushers. As you can see by the pictures, there were even little tykes in attendance. Everyone was dressed warmly. It was only about 8* (and pretty cold on the ice). Fortunately, there wasn't any wind.

Imagine driving 200 miles in the luxury and warmth of your car. Now imagine crossing that same 200 miles while standing on the back of a dog sled.....

This just in from the Anchorage Daily News:
Ryan Redington wins Knik 200
Ryan Redington, who was the first into Skwentna Saturday evening, won the Knik 200-Joe Redington Sr. Memorial Sled Dog Race Sunday morning, beating Ken Anderson and Dan Kaduce to the finish by about 38 minutes. (Ryan's grandfather, Joe Redington Sr) was the "Father of the Iditarod".

Race official handing out racing bib with numbers on them to mushers.

Putting booties on the dogs to protect their feet.

Getting the sled packed and ready to go.

Doug, Colleen & friend Joann at the Knik 200

A real fan --
Iditarod patches from many years' races.

How would you like this hat? It was beautiful!

Sled dogs are like marathon runners. They are no longer the husky/wolf breed. Most of the dogs are cross-bred.

This team is ready to go...

For more information on the 2008 Iditarod, go to