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Pre-Race Perspectives: Jonrowe, Moon, and Mackey in Anchorage

“I’m tired of getting ready,” DeeDee Jonrowe said in Anchorage late last week. The longtime Iditarod musher told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen that she was eager to hit the trail: to “get out” and “get going.”

Jonrowe shared with us a few of the things that made her excited to pick up the snow hook: in particular, Day 3 of the race (when “everything’s settled down”), the checkpoint of Nikolai (where “everything becomes a little bit more rational”) and, especially, the people of the Norton Sound coast, who she says make her feel “more at home than… any place outside Alaska.”

She also speculated on how the recent, heavy snows in Alaska might impact conditions on the Iditarod trail – including the number of “moose issues” her team might encounter:

Chicago-born musher Pat Moon also has ties to the Norton Sound region, although for a different reason. Moon has trained with respected mushers from the Western Alaskan community of Unalakleet: its former mayor, William “Middy” Johnson, and his brother, the late Paul Johnson (to whom this year’s inaugural Norton Sound 450 Sled Dog Race was dedicated).

Moon is running dogs from the kennels of both Johnsons, and he expressed to Laureli his gratitude for the wisdom he’s gleaned from their mushing experience. He also talked about the challenges of training in this winter’s extremely frigid weather, as well as his goals for Iditarod 40: “finishing in Nome,” he says, “is what everyone’s looking for here.”

Lance Mackey concedes that 2012 is a “rebuilding” year for him, although – with Mackey’s characteristic flair – the four-time Iditarod champ urges race observers not to count him out.

In Anchorage, before the race start, Mackey told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen that his Iditarod 40 sled dog team is a mixture of dogs from different kennels. The dogs haven’t raced together as a unit, which Mackey views as a challenge he’s eager to meet: “I’m going to try to make a team out of ‘em by the time I get to Nome,” he says, noting that the dogs are “very savvy,” with a “caliber equivalent to mine.”

“Like I always do,” Lance Mackey says, “(I) hope for the best (and) expect the worst.” In Anchorage, Mackey surveyed the trail ahead:

As of early Monday evening, DeeDee Jonrowe is in 19th position; she departed Rainy Pass at 4:56pm with 16 dogs. Pat Moon is in 55th position, having departed Finger Lake at 3:59pm with 12 dogs. Lance Mackey is in 4th position; he left Rainy Pass at 3:15pm with 16 dogs.