Wednesday, 22 March 2000

March 22, 2000

Hello again and thank you for following our Iditarod adventure!

You may have read that I had to scratch from the race, some were concerned for our well being.
The Iditarod was truly the most WONDERFUL experience of my life. Every day was filled with wonderful, unforgettable moments and challenges. I will try over the next few weeks to share some of the 'tales of the trails', but first off - I'll share the final story.

By the time I left Shaktoolik, I had dropped five dogs. Four of them were key leaders: Spud (dropped in Nikkolai), Gus (dropped in Cripple), Camilla (dropped in Cripple), and Buddy (dropped in Shaktoolik). Spud and Buddy are my veteran, main leaders. The simple fact of the matter is that when I went to leave Shaktoolik, I just didn't have a 'strong' enough front end to get out of the checkpoint. Leaving checkpoints is usually more difficult later in a race and Shaktoolik is legendary for being difficult to get out of. I struggled with the team for close to two hours on the ice and then turned back to the checkpoint. I gave them another six hours rest and tried again. This time I spent over five hours out there, much of the time walking in front of the team to get them going. During this time, three teams passed by and when I couldn't get my team to follow them - I knew my race was over.

I don't really think that the sea ice was a factor in this. The sea ice is not glare ice (which we had been over many times during the course of the Race, and which my dogs excelled at), but rather a flat, vast, featureless terrain that can be mentally intimidating to mushers and teams. But for my team - at that particular time, I think a winding, treed trail would have been a insurmountable obstacle as well. Of course, I am very disappointed that I was unable to finish the Race - we were so close, but I am proud of my dogs and blame them for nothing. They did the very best they could.

A few of the dogs will be retired and a few others are for sale to select homes. The rest will be back with me NEXT YEAR - yes, we are juggling the finances and getting ready to kick off our fundraising for next year. Originally, the plan was to spend this year recouping financially from the Race, however Mark and I both feel that this is now unfinished business that needs to be taken care of sooner rather then later. I thank you all for your interest and concern about the dogs and I. It has been very touching (and healing) to read many of the messages that have shown up in my mailbox and on the various lists. Stories to follow soon!

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