Sunday, March 02, 2008

North to Alaska!

A record 96 teams completed the ceremonial start of the Iditarod was yesterday in Anchorage. Today the real race begins from Willow. The race alternates routes every year and this year they will be following the northern route.

I will be following three teams in particular this year.

My cousin by marriage, Robert Bundtzen, wearing #97, will be the last musher out onto the trail. Robert finished 43rd last year and I'm guessing that he will have a young team again this year.

The Anchorage Daily News has a great slide show featuring Robert and tons of other race news here. (Scroll down to "Prepping for Iditarod." I haven't discovered how to link directly to the individual media presentations on their site.)

From the ACP Observer:
Internist Robert Bundtzen, FACP, an infectious disease specialist from Anchorage, has had a different experience with the Iditarod. He's run the race 10 times since 1995, and has yet to use his medical skills for anything serious.

"Once in a while someone will get hurt and they will come up to me, usually with an orthopedic injury," said Dr. Bundtzen. "A couple times I've been asked to examine fellow mushers on the trail for shortness of breath, wheezing or frostbite. Nothing major."

Zack Steer, wearing #26 finished 3rd last year! Will he be near the front of the pack again this year? Will dogs from several different kennels work well together again?

Steer remains the torch bearer for underdogs -- the mushers who take on the Iditarod's elite and beat them.

"In my kennel, if you've got four legs and you're healthy, you're on my team," he said. "I'm constantly getting small kennel mushers saying, 'thanks, you're giving us hope, a chance.' I don't have sponsors, I don't have a big budget."

He does have friends.

To stay competitive, Steer, who owns 20 dogs pools resources with Robert Bundtzen of Anchorage, Kasilof's Jon Little and Bill Steyer of Homer.

Steer trains this all-star team exclusively for only about a month but insists he'll turn out a cohesive unit.

"Within my team itself, I'll have little zones," Steer said. "I have my eight dogs, Jon's four, Bill's four, Robert's four, that way the dogs have a comfort level."
Go here to find the video of the interview.

Sue Allen is from Upstate NY. Born in Binghamton, she graduated from SUNY Cortland. She's been in Alaska since 1986 and currently is a Phys-Ed teacher. This year she will be racing Martin Buser's puppy team.

She'll be starting out just behind Zack with #27. It will be fun to follow a woman and ex New Yorker and I hope she gets her team safely to Nome.

The Ithaca Journal has a nice piece:
Beginning Sunday, she will embark on a trail over treacherous mountain ranges, across frozen rivers, through dense forests and the like on a sled charged by inexperienced, 19-month-old dogs “green as green can be,” as she described them.

Those dogs are not even her own. They belong to Iditarod legend Martin Buser, four-time champion and race record-holder who has entrusted his meticulously bred puppies to Allen in order to gain them requisite experience in hopes that one day, some of them will be members of his team for the Iditarod.

I know ThreeCollie will be following the race too and she has some good links.

Who will you be cheering for?


  1. What an exciting adventure! I'll be curious to see how it all goes for these three.
    I hope your week goes well Apple. We had bright sunshine today...a little taste of spring...but still plenty of snow and ice here.

  2. I'm glad your afternoon went well. The Iditarod looks interesting - cool that you have a relative involved.

  3. You have some great information! Thanks!!