A Start and a Finish! That’s what the Re-Start in Willow is all about.
Mushers are ready to get back to what they do best, so it is the Finish of the week that has worn many of them down! Don’t get me wrong, Mushers love their Fans, but they spend most of the year as solitary people out in the wilds with their Teams. Fans, Banquets, Sponsors, and the Big City are way out of the comfort zone of a musher. They are ready for the Start of this year’s adventure!
You see a lot of family at the Re-Start. It’s the last time families will see their beloved Moms, Dads, and Friends as they head out into the wilds of Alaska. Families are the backbone of a mushing lifestyle, so just a few last moments before off on the trail they go. Kids are running and playing. Wives and friends are socializing and waiting for the big event.
Pete is pretty calm for the most part, but once it get’s time to stretch out the line and get dogs in harness, the mood changes and its all hands on deck to get going.
In the early days you would see Pete checking his watch and pacing nervously. Not on his eleventh run. He’s got a very efficient plan and once we are about 15 minutes from having to move, an efficient orchestration of dogs, gear, and people form the Team into a ready unit. Kaiser Racing is so lucky to have a cadre of folks that help out year after year. They also know what to expect and what to do. Pete hardly has to say anything as handlers take hold as the Team forms.
Pete and Ron do all of the Bootie duty (haha) putting booties on the Team. There are a few tasks that he and Ron do themselves, but for the most part everyone pitches in as needed to help get ready for the Start.
Then the Staging Chief signals it’s time to go and off the Team goes towards the Starting Line.
At this point, Bethany and the Kids and anyone else that isn’t handling has already made their way towards the Starting Line. The Team moves way to fast on soft snow for a person to keep up. If you want to be at the Start to see Team Kaiser leave– Take a hint! Start Early!
It was snowing so hard today that it filled the parking lot with lots of snow. It really came down all the time we were in Willow.
At the Starting Line, for the last time, Pete was introduced as the Defending 2019 Iditarod Champion. It was quite a moment.
Pete walks down to check the Team one last time and the handlers back away from the Team. Handlers are just there to help the Team get into position, for the most part the dogs know what is going to happen and stand ready for Pete to give them the “ALRIGHT- LET’S GO”
Pete makes his way back to the sled and gives his kids Ari and Aylee a kiss and then one last hug from Bethany and his Mom.
“5-4-3-2-1- GO” Pete grabs the handle of the sled and “Alright” and the Team heads off!
There were thousands of folks on the sidelines cheering the Teams and a big cheer went out as Pete and the Team made their way out onto the lake.
Good Luck Pete! Go Team Kaiser!