Armchair Musher: More to See

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2-13-2019  10:22 PM

So this armchair musher had to see more of the race for herself, so once again I jaunted off to a checkpoint. This time to Two Rivers to see Deke, Jason, Andy, Rob, and Curt. Was so good to see the crew in Two Rivers, all looking chipper after having to hold up in 101 for the night. 

Also good to see the handlers all arrive safely, with road conditions being what they are. Was fun to catch up with my handler friends on the trail. Was especially happy to get to see Andy’s amazing wife, Kristin. I first met Kristin and Andy when they were volunteering for the Yukon Quest at the Circle checkpoint. Dan was running that year so we got to all hang out as we waited for Dan and other mushers to show up, and waited for them to leave. Had a great time talking with them, and was really impressed with how seriously they were taking their distance mushing. Putting in the time, volunteering at checkpoints, not just to volunteer but to watch and study what mushers were doing. Handling for Dan had given me the opportunity to do the same. And being able to study the mushers at checkpoint is a great way to learn. I was going to share with you one of my favorite stories about Andy and Kristin, the story of how they met, it is so sweet.  But in asking Kristin for permission she said “Sure! It’s going to be public anyway since I put it in my book.”  And since she is best suited to tell her own story I will just strongly recommend that you read her book, This Much Country.

And speaking of giving back to the sport, I have to share with y’all something I recently learned while talking to my good friend from New Zealand Sheryll. I was asking her about Mushing in New Zealand, she is active in the New Zealand Distance Sled Dog Club. She explained that although Curt and Fleur are not affiliated with the club (but lets me real here, with 2 kennels on 2 continents I think they have enough to manage) they are still excellent ambassadors of the sport down under. In addition to racing in Alaska, and running tours in New Zealand they also were responsible for organizing and running a stage race for mushers in New Zealand. Sheryll writes, “In fact one reason I love Curt and Fleur to death is they are not knowledge precious. They are the only tour in NZ on sleds and in their spare time they run training camps throughout NZ and Australia so people can learn what they know; and they are accessible throughout the year to anyone who wants advice.”

At the Two Rivers checkpoint I also had the chance to hug Deke, and tell him I used the photo of him from Eagle summit. And he confirmed that yes in fact he was smiling. He was still smiling at Two Rivers, always a good sign. He and Jason had good runs into Two Rivers today. On some level I expected that. Talking to the mushers it is safe to say that it was not a picnic, winds and blowing snow even at the 101 checkpoint. But it was still rest for the dogs. And here is an interesting thing about rest.  It takes time, but it doesn’t make you slower.

The back of the pack is also on the move, and the extra rest does not seem to have done them any harm either. As I type they are tackling Rosebud, and things appear to be going well. Weather could still be a factor for them, blowing and snowing has not completely died down. But looking at the traveling speeds though I am guessing the run is going well. They also had more rest then earlier teams did going out on that run. And one might safely guess that the weather in Central, where they were waiting for conditions on Eagle Summit to improve, did not include the very intense winds of 101. So once again, rest takes time, but it does not slow you down. 

And by now people have probably already seen Press Release about moving the finish line. Seems Mother Nature was not done making this an interesting race for all involved, so she threw in another curve ball. Once again let’s all be grateful the Quest is making the extra effort to make sure dogs and mushers are safe. It appears the decision was made due to disintegrating conditions, after Martin had left the Two Rivers checkpoint. I can only imagine that he was shocked to see the old race trail blocked and diverted to the new finish line on Nordale. Congratulations to Martin the 2019 Rookie of the Year. He is following in his brother Vebjorn, who was the 2018 Rookie of the Year.

As I finish up this post folks are gathering to see Dave finish his 23 Quest. It has been a good race day, with everyone on the move again. And I hope everyone will keep cheering teams on until the red lantern has been earned.

Mush love


Jodi Bailey