by Phillip Manning ~ June 27th, 2013
While the Iditarod does not begin for about six months, the official beginning of the Iditarod season is right around the corner. Saturday, June 29th will be a big day for the race. Ballots will be counted for the Iditarod Trail Committee, there will be an annual membership meeting and volunteer picnic, and it is the first day that mushers can register for the 2014 race, which will begin on March 1st.
Joanne Potts, longtime staff member for the Iditarod, says that some well-known mushers are expected to attend.
“For the most part, you can just pretty much count on people who live within driving distance, you know, up to Fairbanks and probably down to Seward will be here. I think Mitch Seavey will be here, Aliy (Al-ee) Zirkle will be here, but it’s hard to say, exactly. There’s always people here you don’t expect.”
The big names won’t be the only ones in attendance, however. The Iditarod gives away two free race entries to mushers who register on Saturday and stay until the drawing that afternoon. As a result, dozens of mushers often attend.
“We get in the neighborhood of fifty-something signups that day. One year I think we had up to seventy-something. That was the year we had almost a hundred mushers, but it’s never been that since then. I’m figuring we’ll have something between forty-five and fifty-five on Saturday.”
The other major focus of the day’s activities is an invitation-only picnic for Iditarod volunteers.
“All the people we have on our volunteer list have been invited to attend, and some of them will probably bring people with them, but it’s basically for the volunteers and to give the mushers the chance to thank the volunteers for making the race possible for them.”
Potts says that Saturday’s registration will give a good indicator of how many mushers plan to run the Iditarod in March.