Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Over to the coast

I am watching Mike and the dogs make good progress towards Unalakleet.  As of right now they have 19 miles left to go.  Many of you noticed that Mike took a long layover at Kaltag.  The dogs have gotten a stomach virus and Mike has been working hard to keep them hydrated.  Just like people sometimes get sick when traveling on crowded airplanes, dogs can share viruses when they come together at races.  In Kaltag Mike used every trick he knew to try to get more liquid into the dogs.  He also consulted with the veterinarians.  One thing that Mike has stood out for is his commitment to providing the best possible care for his dogs.  During the All Alaska Sweepstakes, in 2008, Mike impressed our veterinarian, Jayne Hempstead, with his resolve to put the needs of the dogs before his own ambitions. 

This morning, after giving the dogs a long rest, Mike decided to withdraw three dogs from his team, Nestor, Zazu, and Ziplock, and continue on towards Unalakleet.  While fighting a virus is not how Mike would choose to be running his first Iditaord, he may get a kick out of the article about his dilemma by the Iditarod news titled "Should I Stay or Should I Go."  Here in Cantwell, Mike has a local radio station, WOOF FM 102.1, and on that station he has included the song "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash.  I think Mike would be pleased that at least his struggles have a rock and roll connection. 

As Mike made his way accross the Kaltag portage, he chose to give the dogs a break at Old Woman Cabin  (Thank you GPS for keeping me in the loop.)  Old Woman Cabin has a rich Iditarod history.  Many mushers have stopped there over the years.  Part of Mike must desire to be moving up the trail at a winning pace.  However, having the opportunity to take a moment to see some of the places along the way is an incredible opportunity. 

This evening I spoke to a friend who was working at the Nikolai checkpoint.  He said that Mike and the dogs looked great and that Mike was clearly in his element out there on the trail.  Whatever trials and troubles Mike may experience during this race I know that they are paired with experiences and possibilities that only exist when your dream big. 


  1. Sorry to hear that Zazu & Ziplock were dropped - they were 2 of my favorites on the team!
    Will keep a watchful eye on Mike's progress as he continues down the trail. -Paula Portalatin

  2. This is great! We used to watch the Iditarod on TV, but don't get it here anymore. When we were up there you drove our bus when we went out to Jeff King's place and saw his dogs. Keep us informed! Linnie Sanderson

  3. So inspiring!!! Sending thoughts full of safety, speed and health your way :)

  4. We are so sad that Mike could not finish! But, again, the "athletes" come first! We have just one dog and have no idea how dificult it must have been for Mike to put off his dream in favor of the dogs' well being. Next year will be a different story! We know it.
    Great effort, Mike! And thanks Caitlin for all the wonderful updates.
    Claire, Wayne and the 4th grade class at Birchwood School here in NJ.

  5. So sorry to hear Mike had to drop out, but glad he put the dog's health first. Hope to see you again next year.