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In Anchorage, Many Reasons to Cheer

Laureli at Iditarod Start

Laureli took to the streets of Anchorage, cellphone in hand, to report to KNOM listeners the excitement of the Iditarod ceremonial start. Photo by Tom Busch.

The Iditarod attracts both competitors and fans for many different reasons; some are drawn to the race by a love for dogs, others by family tradition, or hometown pride, or, simply, by a fascination with Alaska. At this Saturday’s ceremonial start, the mushers and supporters who packed the streets of Anchorage each had his or her own reason to celebrate.

KNOM staff Laureli Kinneen and Tom Busch were on the scene, taking the pulse of the crowd (as well as a few pictures – see right). Both Tom and Laureli shared the mood in Alaska’s biggest city with KNOM listeners, live via cellphone. Here are a few memorable excerpts from the broadcast:

Laureli caught up with some Western Alaskans, including a few who were there to support Iditarod rookie Middie Johnson (from Unalakleet, AK):

Laureli also spoke with Rick Swenson, who holds the distinction of having the most Iditarod championships (five). Rick’s been racing the Iditarod (and winning) since the ’70s, and he hopes to do it again in 2010:

Tom got to chat with veteran musher Michael Williams, Sr., of Akiak, Alaska. Mike is sitting out this year’s Iditarod, allowing his son, Mike, Jr., to step into the limelight:

Mike Williams, Jr. isn’t the only musher to carry on a family tradition. This year’s competitors include two Seaveys (father and son Mitch and Dallas), two Redingtons (Ryan and Ray Jr.), and the 18-year-old Quinn Iten, son of veteran Ed Iten and one of the youngest mushers ever to hit the Iditarod trail.

Correction: Our original blog post incorrectly stated Quinn Iten’s age as 17 years old. He is 18.