As I sit in an overstuffed chair, full as a tick and clean as a whistle, it is hard to imagine that 29 years has passed since my first Iditarod finish. Nome looks much the same as I remember it in March of 1981–crowded tangles of power lines –cheering Nome residents and visitors, some walking a straight and narrow line and others staggering from doorway to doorway. Iditarod week here is truly unlike any other place I have ever been. With our friend and colleague, Dave DeCaro, crossing the finish line just an hour ago with a team of Husky Homestead protegees I feel like it is safe to say that Iditarod 2010 is now over. My race team has long since departed Nome, back to the kennel where they are enjoying TLC in a familiar bed with familiar hands caressing them and filling their food dish over and over. My third place finish in this year’s race ironically included my fastest time ever from Anchorage to Nome. The team was a joy to drive and consisted of many of the best sled dogs that I have ever had the pleasure of racing. Litter mates Dublin and Shannon, in particular, had a spectacular race and charged down the street in Nome for the burled arch reminiscent of my Streeper Steakers in the Fur Rendezvous. They will both be going on to race in another team and I look forward to staying in touch with all of the dogs who are not retiring. Viper and Deets, long time sentimental favorites, have accepted an early retirement package and will spend their next years by my side reminiscing about the good old days on the trail. Titan, Sussex, Ross and Alamo are headed to Northern Sweden to no doubt learn a few new words in a different language as they join a top Scandinavian race team. Berkeley is headed into the maternity ward for a young musher here in Alaska who has plans to raise Husky Homestead puppies for his future racing team. Young musher Pete Kaiser from Bethel, Alaska has made a huge commitment to acquire Dollar, Shannon and Snoopy for his young race team. As always it will be fun to follow the lives of the dogs as they move on. Back at the homestead we look forward to puppies to be born out of Dave’s adolescent team. We have found over the years that dogs conceived during the Iditarod always bring a special character to the pups as they grow up.
Donna’s new print, “A Fork in the Trail” proved madly popular. Released just two days before the race start, it is now sold out. The image commemorates by first and last Iditarod races. Donna will soon be headed to Tulsa, OK where a week from today she will be competing in the AKC National Agility Championships while I expect to be enjoying the spring sunshine back in Denali.
So, to all of our loyal fans, friends, family and fellow racers, thank you to each and every one of you for the support and enthusiasm that has made my Iditarod career so rewarding. I am not exactly sure what is going to happen next, but I assure you that it will be done with gusto, enthusiasm and compassion influenced by thousands of miles on the Iditarod Trails.
Check back soon for personal race photos.