The Last Great Race

That’s what they call Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  And I am a big fan.  Make that huge fan.  I love Alaska.  And in 2007 and 2008, I had a chance to be there for the start of the Iditarod.  An unbelievable experience.

A little history….. those of you who knew me before I was a blogger know all about my two Iditarod trips.  Because you were probably a part of my email list at that time.   And the email list grew and grew.  As I told the story of the escapades of the Three Huskateers from Texas who took Alaska by storm.  What memories we have!  I saved those emails in a document and still read it from time to time to relive the moments.  I considered sharing some of the stories with you here.  And I still might do that.  Someday.  Not today.  I don’t want to be up all night.

But for those of you who became Iditarod fans with me…. the race is happening right now.  I could rattle off all the statistics for you.  I could tell you all about Lance Mackey who is the defending champion and has won the last 4 years in a row.  The only person to ever win 4 in a row.  I could tell you all about Larry, his lead dog, now retired and a part of their family.  Larry lives in their home now.  The life of a retired sled dog leader.  I’m sure it’s a pretty cushy life.  Those dogs are treated like humans.  They are a huge part of life in Alaska.

Lance is in third place right this moment.  As I write this.  But it will change, I’m sure.  You can read all the current standings here:

Iditarod Current Standings

I could go on and on with stories about GB Jones.  His kennel is right on the Iditarod Trail.  And I had the privilege of riding in his sled basket on that very trail.  And oh, are there stories I could tell.  About Pam as she trained to be his tag sled driver for the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage those 2 years we were there.  And how special it was to be a “dog handler” on his team for the race.  Me, cat lover that I am, a dog handler!  Don’t tell Boo.  He might never forgive me.  It was an experience I will never forget.  And I re-live all the memories every year as I follow the race again.

You might even remember that in 2008 GB said, “This is my last Iditarod.  I’m not running again.”  He even wrote it down and signed it.  And we all witnessed him doing it.  Guess what?  He’s in the race again this year.  Silly guy.  Iditarod just gets in your blood.

Check out this story about GB in the race this year.  He had a bit of a run in with some ice and I think the ice won.  You can tell from the picture of him in the article.  Poor GB!  Iditarod is definitely in his blood.

These are the boots I bought for those two Alaska years.  It’s very cold in Alaska right now.  These boots are good to temps of minus 25.  And I needed them to keep my feet warm while I was there.  I don’t get to use them much in Texas.  The first day we arrived the temp at the kennel was something like minus 5.  And GB was creating a lot of smoke trying to build a bonfire with green wood.  And the adventure began as we harnessed up the team and each took our turn at mushing.  Remind me to tell you how good Susan was at mushing.  And how really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad I was.  I liked riding in the sled much better.  With GB on the runners directing the team.

Wanna see what it feels like to ride in the sled?  There’s a video……

Riding the Iditarod Trail w/ GB Jones and the Team

I’m dreaming of Alaska these days.  As I check on the standings often and watch the GPS trackers to see where everyone is on the trail.  I get obsessed with my computer the first two weeks of March every year.  As if I need yet another reason to be obsessed with my computer.  The winner will probably cross the finish line sometime on Tuesday.  In Nome.  One day I hope to be in Nome watching all the teams cross the finish line.  Because every one of them who makes it all the way to Nome is a winner. 

GB Jones is camped out on the trail as I write.  I know that because his GPS tracker has been showing him in one spot for awhile.  And he’s not at a checkpoint.  I’ve been wondering how cold it is and how it’s possible to sleep in those conditions.  The dogs just curl right up and sleep away.  But the humans come away with frostbite on their noses and their feet.  Doesn’t really sound like something I want to do.  I will not be adding Iditarod Race to my Bucket List, that’s for sure.  But I sure would like a glimpse of those Northern Lights like they see them out on the trail.

In the meantime, I’ll just follow the race on my computer.  And pray that all the mushers and their teams arrive in Nome safely.

Mush on!
P.S.  Sorry I’ve been quiet lately.  I’m dealing with some issues with aging parents, but hope to get back to blogging on a regular basis real soon.  I have much to share as soon as there is time.  Stay tuned!

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7 Responses to The Last Great Race

  1. Lani says:

    Barb, I also love the Iditarod and have always enjoyed following it through your experience, passion, and stories! Thanks!
    I’m thinking of you as you care for your parents. It’s a big transition for everyone!

  2. Susan Bancroft says:

    The 2007 Iditarod was an amazing adventure!! I think it was our first morning there when it was minus 11 degrees, and I was beyond happy. (I’m sure I was a snowman in another life, LOL!) Not on my Bucket List to run that race either, but I could move to Alaska tomorrow and be happy for the rest of my life. Oh, wait, I have a new grandson, I guess I won’t be making THOSE plans! Those mushers are hardcore, tough people…it’s unbelievably impressive what they can endure. I’m definitely rooting for GB (“the gentle giant”) to make it to Nome! 🙂

  3. Cindy Smith says:

    Barb, thanks so much for sharing this. Curtis and I watched the video and then checked the standings. I wish I could go next time to see the race begin or end. I bet you wish you were there right now. Mush on GB!

  4. Deb Miller says:

    Funny reading your post. My husband is OBSESSED with keeping track of the race too. And I continually get an update. I like the “IRod” too, but am not obsessed. We are in northern MN. and I always thought I wanted to run dogs, but after meeting someone who did, changed my mind. A lot of work, and expensive to have that many dogs. Our vet and her husband ran it a few years ago. It is exciting when you know someone.

  5. Kaye says:

    It’s good to hear from you again. I know this has been difficult to get your folks moved. I hope your dad continues to improve. I sure enjoyed seeing the mushing video again! Thanks for posting the link to the current standings. The musher Alison and I visited is Gerald Sousa…he’s a few behind GB when I last checked. Speaking of bucket lists, seeing the Northern Lights is way up high on mine. Let me know when you want to go!

  6. Laurel H. says:

    O, Barb, I hope everything goes OK for you and your parents.

  7. Diane Wyte says:

    Hang in there with your parents, Barb – we know how difficult this is! Once moved, life is so much better —–

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