Monday, March 28, 2011

Running With the Reindeer

With all the more 'serious' events that happens during Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous, 'Running with the Reindeer' is a pure outlet for fun. This is only the fourth year they've done it, but it seems to be enormously popular. Not to mention that it is a huge fundraiser for Toys for Tots or some other very very very good cause.

The premise is - they get a bunch of non-feral (i.e. not wild) reindeer, walking them down opposite their feed trailers and let people start basically a 100-yard dash, give the humans a few seconds lead start and then let the reindeer loose. And let the "chaos" ensue.

What could go wrong with this premise? And I knew I had to try my hardest to be there to see it in person. Just to say I was there. And I was glad I was.

One of the more serious parts of the entire event, is that there was an entire COMPANY of soldiers (I'm feeling guilty for not remembering which company exactly it was) but what I do remember, is that they'd been somewhere very dangerous and they had returned a few days previous and they returned incredibly intact. Out of the company of 100, only 6 were injured and none of them fatally. That's a great feat and they paraded down the entire 'race track' from finish line to starting line and the crowd roared in their approval and celebration.

Running With the Reindeer

I think that a batch of recruits were sworn in at the start line (I was a little too far away to hear it un-amplified) and then, that lucky full company got to be the first to run with the reindeer. And let me tell you, that was pretty priceless:

Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer

Then they let the men's group run. There were several VERY CRAZY and likely drunk men who were running in boots and boxer shorts (it was seven degrees Farenheit out). And I think several of them were military. And the emcee (a local radio host) just loved torturing them by making them do push-ups in the snow while everyone waited for the reindeer to be escorted back to the starting line.

Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer

Here are some of the crazy men:

Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer

There was this guy who was running with puppets (oven mitts) on his hands:

Running With the Reindeer

And then the woman ran - can you tell costumes were a theme?

Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer

And you'd never know who you might find in the crowd:

Running With the Reindeer Running With the Reindeer

Some of the reindeer even had antler cams:

Running With the Reindeer

All in all, it was a very funny event - plus I had the chance to see reindeer up close and later, even got my picture taken with one.

But nothing beats the sight of a reindeer running down the street in downtown Anchorage:

Running With the Reindeer

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Iditarod Ceremonial Start

I was lucky enough to be present for the Iditarod Ceremonial Start, here in downtown Anchorage. The official race doesn't start then, but you wouldn't know it from the crowds and the dogs. Not unlike the Rondy Sled Dog Race, the dogs are WAY amped though these dogs I think are bred for distance vs. speed.

Here's just a few pics - due to the volume, I've made them smaller, check them out in bigger form at my Flickr page:

Chatty WHAT are you doing? Icy Blue Eyes Hoppity Looking Out Excited! Harnesses Licking Eyes Mushers At A Run At A Run At A Run Iditarod Ceremonia Start Going For Victory Parking Garage of Spectators

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rondy Carnival

Only in Alaska would there be an outdoor carnival in WINTER. True, it may technically be the warmest it's been all winter... but it was still damn cold. And since it was on the coast (outer part of downtown), it was pretty windy when I went. I stupidly braved the cold (and complained about it later) to take these pictures, but I think it was worth it.

There were many a carnival operator simply looking super cold. I chatted with a few of them, instead of losing money at their games. It was a fun, albeit very chilly, visit.

Carnival w/ Mountains






Carnival Profile

Lit-up Ferris Wheel

Lit-up Ferris Wheel

Food Booths

Lit-up Ferris Wheel


It was very sparsely attended but those loyal attendees were bundled up for the cold!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rondy Sled Dog Race

In late February/early March, there is a festival call the Fur Rendezvous, called Fur Rondy for short. While it is centered around fur (duh), it's basically an excuse for Alaskans to party. There's lots of events from an outdoor carnival (no kidding), to sled dog races (Rondy and the Iditarod start) and a relatively new tradition called "Running of the Reindeer". I have pictures from these 4 events... so here goes on posting/blogging about the pictures from the first event: the Rondy Sled Dog Race. This is a three-day event (I'm guessing the times were added up).

As we approached 4th street, you could hear the cacophony of the dogs barking. These dogs were AMPED. Ready and raring to go. We heard that one of them got loose earlier and it took an hour to round up the dog. These dogs are born to run.

Ready to Go

Ready to Go

Ready to Go

REALLY ready

Snowy spray



Full Team

Though they closed down 4th street, they had to keep some streets still open. Here's how they controlled traffic:

Holding Back Traffic

One musher fell off of his sled near the start... it took 4 adults to tackle the dogs/lines to get them to stop so the musher could catch up and remount. This was after a set of dogs went the wrong way down C street. An exciting morning.

Catching Runaways

There were attendees of all sizes, including a school group that counted down with the emcee:

Little Girl

Run run run

Run run run

More blog posts to come!