Pinkham prepping for Iditarod |

Pinkham prepping for Iditarod

Ryan Graff
Special to the Post Independent

DRY PARK” Packing for a 12-day trip is plenty of work. Packing for a 12-day trip to Alaska that covers more than 1,000 miles and includes 16 dogs requires weeks of work and a team of workers.

Bill Pinkham spent weeks packing for the March 6 start of the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska.

“I’ve got to have all this in Denver Thursday morning at nine,” said Pinkham the first week of February. He stood looking around a barn filled with supplies for the 1,112-mile long race.

Neat stacks of sports drinks and Zip-loc bags sat next to mounds of white dog food bags, dog booties, and dog massage balm.

During the race Pinkham will be able to carry a certain amount of gear with him on his journey from Anchorage to Nome. The rest of the gear must be shipped ahead to checkpoints along the race route, which he will pick up along the way.

Pinkham first started running dog sleds in 1994, bought his own dogs in 1998, and started racing in 2000.

In the Wyoming Stage Stop Race held in January, Pinkham finished ninth out of 29 racers, improving on his 14th place finish out of 21 racers in 2003.

He has competed in three 1,000-mile races ” twice in the 1,000 mile-Yukon Quest Race in Alaska, and in last year’s Iditarod.

“I learned a lot,” said Pinkham of last year’s Iditarod. “And I’ve learned so much this year about dogs.

“I learned not to carry so many dogs,” he said. Last year he didn’t want to leave any dogs behind, but this year if a dog isn’t up for the race he will leave it at a checkpoint and go on without it.

Dogs left behind are shipped to back to Anchorage, where Pinkham can pick them up after the race.

He has also learned a lot about scheduling and efficiency during the race.

“This is the first year I will have made a schedule,” he said.

During a cold, sleep-deprived 1,000-plus mile race, it is easy to divert from your plan, said Pinkham, noting that there is a fine line between racing too much and resting too much.

“You get tired and change your plan,” he said. “I’m trying to be real clear on my schedule and what I’m going to do.”

Another year of experience will certainly help Pinkham in the race, but so will showing up in Alaska healthy.

Last year Pinkham rolled his truck just before leaving for Alaska, injuring his back and wrecking his race sled.

Pinkham left on Saturday for the long drive to Alaska.

With another year of racing experience, a stronger dog team, and, hopefully, showing up healthy, Pinkham is cautiously optimistic about the race.

“I feel positive,” he said. “I’m in a pretty good place.”

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