Friday, March 9, 2012

How a fan watches the Iditarod

Duane, Dad, Belinda & Tonichelle at the Willow Re-Start
Let's face it, not all of us have the option to ride out by airplane or snow machine or live in an Iditarod checkpoint. We are sitting at home and waiting for any and all information we can get. Growing up, I remember waiting for the updates at the beginning and end of every school day in elementary school. By the time we were in Jr. High and High School interest in the race, for students, was non existant. If you weren't friends with a peninsula musher, chances are you weren't paying attention. Besides, the internet was booming and you could get updates via the site or better still the Anchorage Daily News.

Back when I was in the single digits age wise I remember heading over to the post office after school every day and viewing the "current leader board" that they updated as much as they could. They had to call the COMMS department regularly. That's how it was watched before social media, it was all done with a phone call to the race central folk. Phones, I'm told, rang off the hook twenty four hours a day and the calls were from all over the WORLD. Now all one has to do is click a button.

Each team has a website, or the very least it seems a facebook page. Fans can interact with the handlers/family members/employees of the mushers. Most posting are not on the trail, but are watching from home. However, they've seen these dogs train and they know the mushers. And best of all? They know what they're talking about. You didn't have that in the early days. You had what the Iditarod Insider does now, you had an "expert" talking with newsreporters and hoping everything made sense.

Some of the "excitement" is taken away because we have information instantly (or at least with in 15 minutes or so). Fans are complaining that the current standings take "so long" to post (when in actuallity it is so much FASTER than when I was a kid). We have video within hours of it being captured. We have GPS. It's incredible. It brings a new sort of excitement, and armchair mushers can debate until the wee hours of the morning while they wait for the leaders to come off of mandatory rests before they can BS about something new.

And it's all so accessable.

Does that mean I don't want to be out there on the trail? No, if anything I wish I were there even more! The energy is amazing in a checkpoint, and it's a chance to really see the action unfold. And if you're a photog like me? Well, it's a great chance to get pictures that end up in magazines.

So, while it is frustrating that we don't truly see every SECOND of information as it happens, remember, it used to be SO MUCH LESS than what it is now. And go follow a few musher's social media sites. Especially - Danny Seavey is doing an amazing job with coverage.

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