Just a few days before the ceremonial start of the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Anja Radano is putting the finishing touches on her preparation.
For the first time in five years, the Iditarod will follow the southern route. Radano says reports of trail conditions, including of the notorious Dalzell Gorge, are positive.
“They were saying that the gorge looks as good as they have seen in years, so that’s encouraging. And then there’s always the treacherous trip between Rohn in Nikolai, through the burn, that never has snow. But I guess that’s what we have to deal with when we get there.”
Even under good conditions, the thousand-mile run to Nome is a test of mental and physical
endurance for the dogs and mushers. Anja Radano is setting realistic expectations for her rookie race by making sure she and her relatively young team get plenty of rest along the way.
“We’re not going to do epic, long eighty-mile runs. [We’ll] break those up into two forties, or something like that, and take a four hour break in between.”
While finishing is the ultimate goal, Anja says she would like to not be the Red Lantern, the last musher to finish the race. Her husband, Pete, is one of the race’s trail sweeps, and she hopes to be in Nome well before he is.
“I hope I don’t see him much, until Nome. I’ll wait for him at the finish line.”
Anja Radano says her focus on the trail will be to keep her team happy, healthy, and eating well. Speaking of food, she says fellow Talkeetnans have pitched in significantly to make sure she stays fed.
“I was very lucky, because I had some awesome friends here in town who cooked all my meals. I cooked pretty much nothing.”
Now, with only a few days before the race, Anja Radano has a mix of emotions.
“Now, I can’t wait to just get going on the trail, to get all this craziness behind me.…Of course, I’m also terrified.”
The 2018 Iditarod ceremonial start will take place in Anchorage on Saturday, and the restart will be on Sunday in Willow.