7:36 am and Jeff is still asleep… clocking in almost twelve hours of the well-needed zzzz’s. He had a brilliant finish yesterday! The weather was picture-perfect, the dogs sprinted up the chute and under the arch like a Streeper sprint team, all in front of a welcoming crowd shouting and cheering. The bright sunshine was truly a gift that set the happy scene on Front Street. Many of our dear, long-time friends and supporters flew in to Nome and were there to greet Jeff and the team. It couldn’t have been a more storybook ending to Jeff’s Iditarod career.
Diane and Jerry from Aurora Fine Art in Anchorage were here and wisked me away in a helicopter yesterday afternoon for a flight to Safety Roadhouse to catch Jeff passing through. A spectacular trip over the sea ice and Cape Nome landed us in Safety as Jeff and the team were arriving at the checkpoint. We watched as Jeff checked in and moved some dogs around in the team. The dogs were incredible! Shannon was screaming to go when they arrived and as they left off down the trail for the 22 mile run to Nome. Diane, Jerry and I were given the grand tour of the roadhouse by its intrepid host, Tom. A short history lesson and we were back in the bird off in search of a few more photo opportunities of our team, musk ox and seals. Absolutely a fantastic ride!!
After Jeff’s official welcome into Nome, he headed the team to the Nome Dog Lot where they are evaluated by a team of veterinarians, judges for the Humanitarian Award. Lots of food and TLC and into the boxes for some well-earned rest. Three hours later the “Pee Team” arrived to collect urine samples for drug testing. Still haven’t heard if Jeff contributed or not…. something new this year is the drug testing of the mushers as well.
The siren blew throughout the night announcing the arrival of another team off the trail. The teams continue to come in and will now for days. Dave left UNK this morning and is still moving at an impressive speed toward Nome. His family is here patiently waiting for his arrival along with additional members of the Dave DeCaro Fan Club! I wouldn’t be surprised if a trip down the trail was in our future.
One more tidbit of information before I bring Jeff his triple-shot latte: We remained blissfully ignorant of the cold temperatures folks and dogs were experiencing in the last third of the race. Speaking with Bruce Lee, Iditarod Insider Correspondent and long time neighbor and friend, yesterday, he filled me in while lamenting his own level of discomfort on the trail. “I feel like I just ran the race myself!” he said referring to the toll the temperatures and wind took. Jeff said that if he had an hesitations about retiring, those hesitations are long gone!