Hello and welcome to day nine of the Iditarod rollercoaster.
I talked to Karen last night, not the happy happy person she was a few days earlier. Her team is being plagued with little injuries caused by punchy trail conditions and shear ice. Anyway dropped dog number four is Loki and dropped dog number 5 is Squeaky. Same old story, wrists and shoulders. Neither one of them is home yet.
Karen also called this morning, she was back to her cheerful yappy self again. It seems that the two back to back 18 mile runs improved her attitude. She gave me the latest revision of the race plan (of course I thought that it was "perfect"). In fact, it was the most impressive strategy that I have heard since Libby Riddles won the race in 1985. However I'm not going to tell you.
One of the perks of this year's race for Karen is that the front runners and the back of the packers, are having to intermingle at checkpoints and on the trail. Karen was running down the river when she saw a team coming towards her, it was Robert Sorlie. Shortly afterwards another team, that of Ramy Brooks.
Later on, now in the dark, Karen could see what she could only describe as "a traveling disco show". This team coming towards her was covered in flashing red lights and had music blaring out of speakers mounted on the sled, it was Jeff King. I guess Jeff doesn't like earphones and the lights are so snowmobilers can see him. Karen said that all of the head on passes were with out incident.
We try and practice head on passing as much as possible at home, but I'm pretty sure that this is the first time that Karen has done it with someone who is about to win the Iditarod. When Karen got into the next checkpoint, Rick Swenson approached her to ask her about trail conditions and other teams positions, again pretty cool.
It's not only the dogs that are racking up the injuries. Karen burnt one of her hands on her cooker, that now has a broken handle, and had to have one of the vets lance the blister with a needle. It must have been bad, because Karen HATES needles. The race is hard on equipment as well. Besides a broken handle on the cooker, Karen for the first time ever tried a ski pole to help her out this year. It broke with in the first 5 minutes.
Well stay tuned, who knows what tomorrow will be like?