Tried, tested and new

Kiara Adams wanted her grubby socks back. Sitting on her packed sled before the race start, Saturday, the 19-year-old musher had cold toes.

Kiara Adams wanted her grubby socks back.

Sitting on her packed sled before the race start, Saturday, the 19-year-old musher had cold toes.

“I never really washed my old socks,” said Adams with a laugh.

The fleece was packed-down and they were covered in dog hair, so she opted for a new pair.

But the clean fleece just didn’t have the same R-value.

The dog hair must have kept her warm.

“I need those dirty socks,” she said.

But Lance Mackey wasn’t pining for old gear.

The reigning Quest champ saved himself at least one role of duct tape this year, after ditching his ancient, grimy snowsuit.

The new one was donated at the last minute, and Mackey’s still getting used to zippers that work.

“I have a hard time spending money on myself,” he said, loading gear into his sled.

“I’d rather put it into the dogs.”

And it didn’t stop at new socks and suits.

This year local mushers Gerry Willomitzer and Sebastian Schnuelle are riding in style, with cushy seats mounted on the runners behind their sleds.

“Mine even has armrests,” said Schnuelle with a grin.

Besides giving mushers a break after hours of standing, the seats actually make the sleds ride better, said Willomitzer.

“It’s like skis,” he said. “You have your best glide when you stand in the centre.”

With the seat adding weight to the rear of the runners, the musher’s weight is better distributed in the middle, he said.

“It handles better than a traditional long-distance sled.”

Hans Gatt, who made the classy seats, wasn’t running one in the race.

“They use this gear on the Iditarod,” he said.

“But on the Quest you don’t want to carry too much weight, there’re lots of hills.

“You don’t want to get too comfortable.”

Tucked into one of Megan Waterman’s Skookum Brand parkas, Dawson’s Peter Ledwidge did, indeed, look comfortable.

While packing his sled, Ledwidge took a minute to show off the feed sacks that hold his dog snacks, gear and food.

A blue stick figure with a matching team is climbing up a mountain, under a Sharpie sky.

“That’s daddy climbing Eagle Summit,” he said.

Another colourful bag had stick-man Ledwidge crossing the finish line in Fairbanks. “That’s daddy coming in first,” he said.

The 2006 Rookie of the Year, Richie Beattie, left the start chute first on Saturday, followed by Alaska’s Mike Jayne and 2006 Quest 300 winner Brent Sass.

Last out was J.T. Hessert, who missed his start time and had to wait until all other teams had left.

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