My favorite annual competition is in full swing. The Iditarod started last Sunday (after a ceremonial Saturday start) and the lead team (two time defending champ Lance Mackey) has crossed the state and reached the coast town of Unalakleet. From there, the trail follows the coast to Nome. It is brutal and beautiful. In the first week, Mackey estimated that he got only 12 hours of sleep. No wonder he fell asleep on the sled runners at one point, his dogs took a wrong turn, and he lost about 2 hours of time. (As dog sledding is less critical for distance transportation in Alaska, and as the old gold mining towns have become ghost towns, much of the old trail is used only once a year, or once every other year, for the Iditarod, which has two alternating routes.) I won't ramble, but if you care to get a peek at this grand event, check out the main Iditarod site and the Anchorage Daily News reporting. The pic is of one of the premier competitors showing up at the Kaltag checkpoint, coming off a 70 mile river run at 40 below.