Pinkham under way at Iditarod |

Pinkham under way at Iditarod

Glenwood Springs musher Bill Pinkham and his dog team are under way in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska.This will be Pinkham’s fifth Iditarod.After the ceremonial start in Anchorage, the race took off from Willow for the restart – or the real start as some people call it – heading into the Alaskan backcountry.Eighty-two teams are competing in the 1,100-mile race from Anchorage to Nome, now in its 35th year. The restart, when the clock starts clicking and the most competitive mushers began the serious business of getting to Nome first, was held in Willow because of too little fresh snow closer to Anchorage.This year’s race carries a $795,000 purse with prize money awarded to the first 30 teams to cross the finish line. It should take about nine days for the race winner to reach Nome.In an interview with the Post Independent prior to leaving for Alaska in late January, Pinkham said that this would be his strongest team of dogs, with up to 19 solid dogs.In his past four Iditarods, Pinkham has finished 37th, 33rd, 42nd and 40th last year. His fastest finish was in 2004 when he completed more than 1,100 miles in 11 days 1 hour, 40 minutes.The time will always vary depending on weather conditions. The trail also alternates each year between a north route and a south route. This year mushers will tackle the southern route, which has 27 checkpoints.In the January interview, Pinkham said he hopes to take off at least one day from his time, with hopes of finishing in 10 days.The buzz this year is that the win will go to either Robert Sorlie of Norway, who has won twice in three tries, or to one of the four-time champions – a sentiment that does not sit well with some of the other top mushers.”Baloney,” said Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof, who finished third last year behind four-time champion Doug Swingley, of Lincoln, Mont. Jeff King of Denali Park became a four-time winner with last year’s victory.Gebhardt said he’s returning with almost the same dog team as last year, but this year his dogs are bigger, stronger and more experienced.”If they don’t take us seriously, they’re making a big mistake,” he said.Mitch Seavey, 46, of Seward, said his dog team is every bit as good as his champion 2004 team.Seavey said it’s important to remember that the big names in the Iditarod tend to be the same, but the dog teams they bring to the race are different every year.”We’ll see what they’re bringing,” he said.Nearly half of the teams in the 2007 race are rookies.Temperatures are expected to reach 10 to 20 below tonight.On the Net:

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