Talkeetna musher Anja Radano was up early on Saturday for the ceremonial start of the 46th Iditarod in Anchorage. While the ceremonial start is mostly just that—ceremony—Anja was thinking ahead to her strategy for finishing the run to Nome. While many competitive veterans have race strategies and schedules timed out to high precision, Radano says she plans to take things as they come and focus on keeping everyone healthy and happy.
“Me and the team, we’re pretty much all rookies, so I’ll just see how they do and develop during the race, and we go from there. I don’t really have a set schedule.”
While Anja Radano and her team from Swamp Dawg Kennel have run mid-distance races, this will be their first time attempting something the scale of the Iditarod. Part of the plan to make it all the way to the burled arch is making sure her team of sixteen dogs doesn’t burn out too early.
“Because you have to go a thousand miles, not just, like, twenty, and the dogs, they don’t know that, so they just go. You don’t want to get them tired or hurt right away so you try, at least, to slow them down as best you can.”
Anja’s husband, Peter, will also be on the Iditarod trail during the race, though not with a dog team. He is part of the trail sweep crew, who follow behind the back of the pack. He says Anja’s team had an intense training season, and the dogs are in good shape. Despite the fact that they are both headed the same direction, the plan is to not see much of each other until the race is
“I might see her once when she does her twenty-four [hour rest], but if all goes well I’ll give her a high-five in McGrath and a high-five in Nome and hopefully see her nowhere else on the trail.”
On Sunday, in Willow, years of preparation culminate in one final countdown before the start of Anja Radano’s first attempt at the Iditarod. Even as the clock ticks down, Anja takes a moment to stop and pet each member of her team before hopping on the runners and heading out for Nome.