I know folks have been chomping at the bit to hear about our race plans. I appreciate the patience that you all have shown - and appreciated the impatience others have shown too. The interest is touching.
Since the winter of 1999/2000 I have viewed myself as an 'Iditarod musher'. So what does an Iditarod musher become when they stop running Iditarod??? I've struggled over the summer with that question. Unlike most athletes I can't just walk away from my sport - I have dogs that are family that need and deserve to run.
Some sell off their entire kennels to walk away from the sport. I understand that but I can't do that for a couple of reasons: 1) those dogs are my life and 2) I'm not ready to give up running and racing dogs.
I am, however, ready to give up running the Iditarod - to redefine myself as something other than an Iditarod musher.
It's not because I don't love the race anymore - I deeply do - but the fact is that running Iditarod is an all consuming, selfish and expensive endeavor. I am constantly taking time, money and energy away from my family to put it toward Iditarod. They have been more than tolerant and understanding over the years.....they deserve more.
Will this be my last Iditarod? Will I run Quest? Honestly, I do not know. I am living things moment by moment right now. Seeing how it all 'works' for me.
I've always been very clear that I have other interests in my life besides sled dogs. Running Iditarod really pushes those 'other things' right off the table. It would be nice to find a balance that allowed me to run and race dogs but pick some of that other stuff back off the floor.
For this winter I have decided to stay and train out of home and travel to the 'lower 48' for a couple races - specifically Eagle Cap Extreme in Oregon in January and Race to the Sky in Montana in February.
Those of you who follow us know that I really enjoy the Oregon race. The area is BEAUTIFUL, the folks that put on the race are FANTASTIC....can't get enough of it!
Race to the Sky and I go way back. I ran it for the first time in 1996 and for the last time in 2002 (although I did the Seeley Lake 200 in '08, which is on the same trails). The Race to the Sky trail is OUTSTANDING and I cannot wait to get back on it!!! I am so excited.
I will also be keeping my eyes open for other races that may pop up this winter. I'd LOVE to see the Neckbone come back and would BEAT a path back there! Maybe Quesnel or Ft St James, BC will get something together again! Here's hoping!
As for Alaska, well, you know I can't stay entirely away! I will be heading back in March to be a judge for Iditarod again.
I - and Bet - will continue to Facebook and blog throughout it all, of course. We will be offering a revised Sponsor-a-Dog program, likely a few contests and such too.
I promise there will still be drama, laughs, and a few tears....as always!