Volunteers load up straw shipments in preparation for Iditarod

Published: Feb. 10, 2017 at 12:15 PM AKST
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Dozens of volunteers, many of whom are returning for years in a row, worked up a sweat getting large bales of straw packed up and ready to be distributed for the sled dog teams on the Iditarod trail.

The packing took place at Airland Transport in Anchorage, but the straw will eventually find it's way along the trail.

Over 1,500 bales of straw will be distributed at each stop along the course of the race, organizers say. "Essentially we are sending a bale for every musher, every team on the trail," said Jennifer Ambrose, a volunteer for the Iditarod.

The straw then and other supplies gets sent via postal mail shipments, and then through a bypass mail delivery system to reach every checkpoint.

The volunteers work hard first by wrapping up the straw, stacking it high on pallets, and then shrink-wrapping the resulting pillars of straw.

Ambrose said those who volunteer for this mission enjoy knowing they're helping out a great cause. "I keep coming back every year, so it must be fun," Ambrose said.

Once the straw is set up, next week the food will be packaged for the stops along the trail.

The volunteer group says there is always a need for more volunteers.

"A lot of folks who are here are returning volunteers and have been doing this for years so it's great to see the regulars come back, but it's also nice to see the new ones show up too," Ambrose said.

Those interested in volunteering to help out with the Iditarod can do so through the race's website.