Since this was were I had hoped take my 24-hour break, I had all sorts of goodies packed in my drop bags. We all ate like kings and queens here!
A little later I looked out the checkpoint window to check on my critters. There they were, sprawled out in their straw lapping up the rays of sunshine – a few were even lying on their backs sunning their bellies and around them were a couple newspaper photographers snapping pictures. I muttered under my breath – couldn’t those darn dogs pretend to be ‘rough tough sled dogs’ just during the Iditarod! Then I figured, what they heck, if they weren’t going to pretend – neither was I. So I went outside and dished out some good belly and ear rubs.
I had a nice conversation with one of the reporters about Siberian Huskies on the trail. Some of you reading this might not be aware that Siberian Huskies are not the norm on Iditarod, in fact only 3 all Siberian teams were participating in the Race this year (myself, Blake Freking, and Nelson Shughart Jr.). The rest of the teams consist of Alaskan Huskies, which are some sort of Nordic breed with other breeds added for speed, such as German Shorthaired Pointer, Saluki, Setter, etc. They are fast, for sure, but have lost a lot of the durable features that the Siberian Husky has – such as tough feet and the ability to stay warm in just about any temperature. The front cover of the Anchorage Daily News the next day featured a lovely photo of my Howl a.k.a. Ch.NorthWapiti’s Mr. Thurston Howl SDU and an article on Siberians with quotes from both Blake and I. I heard some comments that the article portrayed Siberians in a less then great light – but I thought that it was pretty accurate!
The dogs didn’t start out of McGrath great. I was surprised because they had come in so well. Maybe I hadn’t rested long enough. It was just a quick trip over to Takotna and I figured I’d give them a four-hour or so break there to try and pick up their spirits. The picked up pretty good once we were on the trail and came into Takotna looking not too bad.
To my surprise, Jamie Nelson was still there finishing up her 24-hour layover. After I got my dogs fed and bedded down, I was able to have a quick hug and a word or two with her before she headed out. Her dogs were looking great, they seemed to be recovering well from their bout of kennel cough and she still had all 16.