Yesterday morning, as I lay in bed with the window open I heard a Canada goose fly overhead. That and the lack of snow on the ground here are good signs that winter is over and spring is arriving. And so brings to close an amazing and never to be forgotten winter.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to make an effort to get all the stories down and online. I hope you will all enjoy them and that in this small way, I can repay everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support and good wishes that I’ve been overwhelmed by.
THANK YOU ALL!!!
The story begins…..
As last year, the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod is a well-organized circus! And one I thoroughly enjoy! We arrived early and got the truck parked in our designated spot. In no time at all the street was packed with other teams, fans and volunteers. Arriving late was Charlie Boulding. The crews had dumped a lot of snow on 4th Avenue this year, much more then last year. Great for dog teams, not great for dog trucks. Charlie spun and slid his way around the corner and up the street, sending Mark and I SCRAMBLING to rescue dogs from the side of our truck. He slid by us and inched by Devan Currier’s truck with his wife, Robin yelling out apologies as they went! Trust Charlie to add flavor and excitement to the morning!!!
Our helpers this year were a lot of fun – friends from the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club (B.A.S.H.) had flown up for the start. They were terrific, helping out any way they could and taking lots of pictures!! One favorite picture was when Libby Riddles came over. Any of you who have followed my diaries since last year know that I am a big fan of Libby’s. Her book, Race Across Alaska was one of the things that got me hooked on the idea of Iditarod. Libby came and asked about my training this year and what I had done different to prevent the problems I ran into last year. Always gracious and friendly, she posed for some pictures with my Idita-rider Liz, and myself. Definitely, a highlight in my mind!
Libby & Karen
Libby & Karen
In no time at all, it seemed, the dogs where hooked up and we were standing in the starting chute. (Did everyone see the spiffy looking red and black bandanas with the maple leaves on them that the team was sporting at the Ceremonial Start? They looked so good. Our thanks to my terrific ‘landlady’, Nancy Black for sewing these up for the dogs!)
It seemed just as special this year as last. This time Mark had opted not to ride the second sled for the Ceremonial start and had passed the honor on to our friend, Lara Baker. As the team shot out of the chute, I gave Mark the ‘high five’ that we have exchanged so many times in so many starting chutes. (This tradition arose from a late entrance into a chute at one of our early races. I missed the chance to get a ‘good luck smooch’ from Mark and had to settle for a high five as the team rocketed by – it has become sort of a ‘good luck’ ritual for us.)
Our ride to the end of the shortened course was solid and uneventful. Lara did a fine job on the tag sled and Liz was an engaging and interested Idita-rider. She and I chatted almost none stop along the way! I was very pleased with the dogs, they pulled solid and strong, if not fast through the 11 miles. The only ‘incident’ of the trip was my leaders attempt to ‘clothesline’ official Iditarod photographer, Jeff Schultz. I run my leaders without a neckline hooking them together. Each leader chose a different direction around Jeff’s legs as he stood on the side of the trail taking pictures. Luckily, I saw it coming and was able to stop everyone before I had to foot the bill for a bunch of very expensive camera equipment!
A quick feeding after arriving at the truck and we were loaded and headed home for my last night on a comfy bed and the dogs last night in their cozy straw filled houses.