While I was having a meal in the local restaurant (which served either burgers or burgers and fries – that was it! But they were good!) I spotted a pay phone. I took the opportunity to call Mark in Willow. He and I went over my run/rest plan for the next few checkpoints. I was completely off my schedule after having to take my 24 in Rainy Pass. Prior to the Race, Mark and I had been planning that he was going to try to fly out to McGrath and spend some of my 24 hour layover with me. Obviously, that was out the window, but I still wanted him to get out on the trail and see what a checkpoint was all about. I asked if he had made arrangements. He had and we would miss each other in McGrath by about 4 hours – how disappointing.
As I was taking care of a few ‘last minute’ things before heading inside to take a nap, a guy with a camera came around looking for me. He told me was with Associated Press and that Canadian Press had paid to have him flown back to Nikolai to take photos of me. Lucky me, they want to run Canada wide pictures of me and I hadn’t showered in over 4 days and my hair was standing on end!!! As it turned out, I never did hear or seen any sign of the pictures being run anywhere – but it was still flattering!
As nighttime rolled around, I started to get ready to leave. Smiley had stiffened up during his rest and it seemed like it was his shoulder that was the problem. I made the decision to drop him. After filling out the paperwork and giving him a kiss goodbye, I went back to rousing the team. To my shock, Spud wouldn’t even bear weight on his left leg. I couldn’t believe it – he had shown no signs that it was bothering him coming in. With a heavy heart, I called the vets over and filled out the paperwork to drop him. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to leave the two of them behind. Three times before leaving, I found excuses to take a run over to the drop dog area to check collars, give them hugs, wish them a good flight home……
The trip over to McGrath was FAST – too fast actually. With Gus and Grover in lead, they were running so well and it was such a lovely night, I had to keep chiding myself to stay on the brake. They roared up the bank into McGrath and ran all over the poor volunteers that were trying to help us park. They settled down well though, like seasoned Iditarod veterans!