You are always greeted with a smile when you first meet Dr. Jim Bardoner. And frequently, his jovial nature and hearty laugh lift the spirits of those around him. In short, he's a great guy. The Tennessee Aquarium is fortunate that he's part of the volunteer dive program. As if diving with the sharks inside the Secret Reef exhibit wasn't enough adventure, Jim has been training for the Iditarod. Billed as "The Last Great Race on Earth," the Iditarod is a dogsled race that covers 1,150 miles of wilderness between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska. The terrain is both beautiful and rugged and the teams will cover the entire route in just 17 days. Let's put this in perspective. Nights are still pretty long here, and as this is being typed, the air temperature in Wasilla, Alaska is a mild 19 degrees above zero Fahrenheit at midday. So this is an amazing journey Jim will begin on Saturday, March 5th with his team of dogs.
According to the official Iditarod website, each musher like Jim will have to carry certain pieces of equipment: an arctic parka, a heavy sleeping bag, an ax, snowshoes, musher food, dog food and boots for each dog’s feet to protect against cutting ice and hard packed snow injuries. The mushers can work out the race details according to his or her chosen tactics. "Each one has a different strategy — some run in the daylight, some run at night. Each one has a different training schedule and his own ideas on dog care, dog stamina and his own personal ability."
Before heading to Atlanta to catch his flight to Alaska, Dr. B. shared a few thoughts with friends about this adventure via e-mail. "Everyone who has ever run this thing says it is a life changing experience, and they didn't even do it with God. I cannot imagine what it will be like for me or how I will be changed. I only know/believe God is in this for a greater purpose," Dr. Bardoner wrote.
"Please pray for my safety and success, but even more that through this life changing experience I and my family will draw much closer to God. I will be praying for all of you for the same thing."
Check out Jim's training blog to see how hard he's been working to make this incredible journey. You can follow Jim's progress by going to the Iditarod website. If you sign up for the insider you can follow his progress in real time with the GPS units that are attached to the sleds. Jim said, "That lets you know where I am, but not me."
Good luck Jim! We look forward to hearing about this race extraordinaire.