When we landed in Nome, Mark, my brother, Jim and Jamie Nelson’s husband, Ken were all waiting for me. Many hugs and tears later we got the dogs loaded up and into the Iditarod dog lot in town. Everyone was so good about telling me how proud they were of what we had accomplished, but the knowledge of what we hadn’t was still a little too fresh in my mind.
Over the next days we spend in Nome, I went through about every emotion in the book. Seeing Jamie Nelson again for the first time was really difficult. Jamie has helped me so much over the last year and become a very good friend – I really felt like I had let her down. She assured me I hadn’t and helped me get focused on looking forward, instead of backwards. It was also her who insisted I attend the Finishers Banquet. I thought that was a pretty dumb idea, but I went and after a rough start, things improved. Going was the right decision. I was really happy to be able to watch these people, many who had become friends go up and receive their belt buckles. I was especially glad to be there to be able to stand and clap for Jamie. She did something truly amazing – she finished with all 16 of her dogs in harness. I’ve heard rumors that that is the first time in 15 years that that has been accomplished. Remarkable – but she is a remarkable lady, so I guess it was to be expected!
There was only one thing I, religiously, avoided doing while in Nome – and that was to stand or walk under the burled arch. That is for next year when I intend to drive my dog team under it.
There is a good reason to not want to wait a year – in the eyes of Iditarod, I am still a rookie for 2001. Unlike the Quest, which drops the rookie status once you have completed over 500 miles of the Race, Iditarod considers you a rookie musher until you have finished. That means I have to re qualify to run. Qualifiers for 2001 must be run in 2000 or 2001, so if I run in 2001, I can use the 2000 Klondike 300 as one qualifier and will only have to do one 200-mile race. To be honest, I’m not quite sure of what 200 miles of the Knik 200 (which is probably the qualifier that I will run – and a race that I successfully completed in ’99) will teach me that 900 miles of Iditarod didn’t – but rules are rules!
We have had some dog happenings since the Race. Doc has taken up permanent residence in Alaska. He is living with our ‘landlady’ and friend, Maureen Chrysler. One new Siberian came home with us – Earl and Natalie Norris of Howling Dog Farms, whose dogs Blake Freking ran the race with this year, sold us Jumper. A lovely 3-year-old bitch that we have very high hopes for! They also leased us a 2x Iditarod finishing female, Keesa. Before we came home we bred her to one of their males, Skookum.
Hawk has also left us. He is living with Denise and Scott Linley. Denise is that artist that did up our ‘Nightrunners’ print for us!
Thanks for reading!