Shortly after arriving back in Anchorage, I received a call from a friend who was apparently surprised by the manner in which I answered the phone. She said, “I’m glad to see your ego is intact.” I have no idea why my ego, great or small, should’ve been altered in any way. Yes, it’s true that less then 24 hours earlier I was in Unalakleet making the difficult decision to withdraw from the 2011 Iditarod. I suppose some people might think that withdrawing from the Iditarod would be devastating to one’s self esteem, but as I look back on my rookie experience, which was Iditarod 2011, proud is how I feel.
I am first and foremost very proud of the group of dogs with whom I had the privilege to travel the Iditarod trail. I have been impressed by the athletic feats and determination of sled dogs for years, but the dogs and their performance still managed to astound me. I’m very proud of the people who have worked with us all winter in order to get us to the starting line. Friends and family gave up hours, days, and months of time to help us train and prepare the supplies and equipment needed for the race. I’m also very proud of the companies and friends, whose financial help made Iditarod possible. It was fun to see their excitement at being involved with our team and this incredible adventure and encouraging to know that they were behind us. And I’m awfully proud of my wife for being as always the backbone of everything we do.
As I sit here trying to capture my thoughts and opinions of the 2011 Iditarod my memory is a little overwhelmed. There is just too much to process in such a short time. So Iditarod junkies keep your refresh buttons warm and check back as we begin the Last Great Race again. I plan to take you with me, checkpoint by checkpoint, as I try to relive the 2011 Iditarod.
Prelude to future installments
As the sun set on our first day of racing, I noticed that the green and red lights of the GPS tracking device mounted to my sled would, every fifteen minutes or so, blink alternately. I assumed that the flashing lights indicated that the tracking device was sending out its signal indicating my location, speed, etc. I immediately thought of Caitlin at home waiting anxiously for the next blip of info. By the second night, which was spent heading over Rainy Pass and then down the Dalzell Gorge, I caught myself referring to the GPS unit as Caitlin. Sunrise, day three, heading out of the Rohn check point I started to question my sanity, after all, only seriously delusional individuals name inanimate objects. I began to compare my behavior with that of Tom Hanks’ character in the movie, “Cast Away.” As the dogs scurried up and over the Post-Rohn Glacier, I was preoccupied trying to determine if talking to a basketball named Wilson was as crazy, or was it in fact, crazier then me naming my GPS tracker Caitlin. By the third night I had completely given up trying to evaluate my sanity. I was convinced that, if I concentrated on a particular thought when the unit now known as Caitlin blinked, I could transmit subliminal messages home via satellite.