Iditarod 2009 - Anchorage

We begin Iditarod 2009 at the Musher's Banquet in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. This banquet
is where the mushers choose their starting numbers and is also the place where the public
gets to meet and greet the mushers and gather autographs and photographs. The "publicity
start" is two days away so everyone is in party mode on this Thursday evening.

Martin Buser, a four-time Iditarod champion, cleans up pretty well as he is poised, with pen
in hand, to sign everything from T-shirts (both carried and worn), to hats, napkins, palms of hands, etc.

Martin and his wife, Kathy, enjoying the banquet and working the crowd of fans.

DeeDee Jonrowe, participating in her 27th Iditarod, is hoping for her first win. She is
probably tired of posing with old tourist geezers like the guy in this picture.

Libby Riddles (right), the first woman to win the Iditarod, is still a fan favorite and a big
supporter of the Last Great Race. She is pictured with fellow California volunteer, Kay Ramos.

Lisa Frederic, an Iditarod finisher, joins the party at the banquet. As I've said somewhere before,
she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, should you be lucky enough to have the opportunity.

The only 5-time Iditarod champion, Rick Swenson, autographs anything the fans put before him.

The 2009 Champion (although we didn't know that at this time), Lance Mackey, can now join
Susan Butcher and Doug Swingley on the list of those winning the race three years in a row.

Followers of the Iditarod have seen his work more than that of anybody else. He is
Jeff Schultz, the official Iditarod photographer, seldom seen on this side of a lens.

The day after the banquet brought a book signing event to the Millennium Hotel, the
headquarters of the Iditarod during the race. Authors and fans showed up for another chance
to see mushers, story tellers, and photographers who document every aspect of the race.

Gary Paulsen, author of several books about Alaska and the Iditarod, as well as
being a participant in the race himself, was on hand to sign his works for many fans.

Jeff King, 4-time Iditarod champion, and his wife, artist Donna Gates, joined
the crowd. Jeff was signing his new book, "Cold Hands, Warm Heart".

Jeff King poses with his puppy, a Border Collie!

On Saturday, several of us were gathered at a favorite Iditarod "watering hole"
when in walked Hobo Jim, an Alaskan entertainer famous for his song, "I did, I did,
I did the Iditarod Trail". He had his guitar in its case and somebody asked him
about it, since it was custom made for him. He took out the guitar and showed us
how it was crafted. Before we all knew it, he was performing an impromptu concert!

Everyone knows what a hard worker our old friend Rudy is. This rare photo shows
Rudy doing what he does best ... improving the morale of the volunteers! Whatta guy!

OK, enough of Anchorage. Let's get out to the Iditarod Trail!

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