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A Denali Destination

Where Dogs are King

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Donna Newsletter – Part 9

I used to pronounce that at this point in the race that you could be pretty sure that the sequence in which the teams come into Unalakleet is how they will eventually cross the finish line. That theory hasn’t held up over the past few years and this year…. holy cow! Who knows? Obviously, Lance’s spot is secured and he will always have a trail, as promised by the race committee. Everyone else is on their own. It appears as those six teams that left UNK virtually together are in for some slow going and trail breaking. The wind has hit the coast and will provide the stage for more Iditarod endurance stories. A close friend is working the Shaktoolik checkpoint. Her report last night was, “I can’t believe that anyone would stop here!” However, it truly is the only friendly spot to rest in the 12 hour run between UNK and Koyuk.

One of the coolest things to see is that the first three teams leaving UNK all had 15 dogs; once again a testament to our increasing knowledge of care for these incredible athletes. Though the number of dogs in the team doesn’t necessarily equate to a race advantage at this point, it can be a mental advantage for sure. It is emotionally difficult for the mushers to send any of their crew home. They are so connected that it feels like loosing a puzzle piece.

I have been waiting for a call from a friend in UNK to get the real skinny on how all the teams looked there. It is always nice to get a more personal report. Hopefully that call will come soon and I will be sure to post a message. I head up to Fairbanks in the early morning for my flight to Nome. This year will be very different: we will have none of our girls in Nome and I will only be there for two days. I fly to Seattle in the wee hours of Friday for a three day agility competition, a visit with Cali and Matt and to hook up with Tessa. Then Tessa and I head to North Carolina for the AKC Agility Nationals. Exciting! I’m hoping for some sunshine in Charlotte… : )

Meanwhile, with 200 miles left in the 2009 Iditarod, keep taking deep breathes as we watch this adventure unfold.


  1. Holly balls.

    Go Daddy Go!

  2. Heavens, what a schedule! I wish you luck at the Agility Nationals! Will miss your daily updates! BUT, how exciting for you. I always wanted to do agility with my schnauzer but have ended up doing therapy work with my daughter’s golden retriver. Bring home some ribbons!!! GO TEAM for you also!!
    Good Luck!

    I am sure that Jeff is working very hard to stay with the “bunch”! How very exciting for us to watch this race unfold from the comfort of our warm homes!!!!

    GO TEAM!!

  3. Good fortune on your agility trials. Thank you for your ocmmentations. I do not know if you will answer but I have to ask why are they breaking a trail for Mackey and not the others. I did notice the trail breaker was running barely before him at times. In my lower 48 opinion that is not fair to the others. Jeff and team are #1 in my book.

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