When I wrote my blog last evening I had no idea the drama that would take place overnight up in the frozen northlands. I finally shut down at 3:00 a.m. my time with the race still unsettled despite the fact that they'd expected Jeff King into Nome about midnight Alaska time. That did not happen. He had a mishap in gale force winds and scratched out sometime around 2:00 a.m. my time. By then, Aliy was in Safety, the final checkpoint, twenty miles out, tied down while winds raged at 65 mph or so. Here is a link to an article in one of the Alaska papers if you are curious how it all went down. http://www.adn.com/2014/03/11/3368344/blasting-wind-forces-king-from.html.
In the end, it was the younger Seavey who staggered into Nome about 4:00 a.m. Alaska time. He did not realize until told that he had just won for the second time. He thought the light behind him, which was Aliy, was his dad, and he was racing him for third place! Visibility was so terrible with ground blizzard conditions in the wind that Aliy had passed Jeff, cracked up just off the trail, and never saw him and Seavey did not know who was where. Aliy followed Seavey in to Nome and gained most of the short lead he had since he only signed in and kept on mushing. It was just not quite enough as she took a few minutes to get her dogs up and running after he came through. Still, her time was only two minutes behind his official crossing the line. What an awesome, bizarre and incredible race!
So it was not quite the photo finish I mentioned last night which had happened in 1978 BTW but was the second closest race in the forty-two years the Iditarod has been run. It was a virtual tie but since they measure down to seconds, Aliy is second for the third time. But sooooo close!! Last night in the terrible conditions I just prayed she and her dogs would be okay, winning be damned. And they were. Thanks to the Powers for that! All her dogs got a fresh steak and then were bedded down by the handlers to be fed, watered and kept snug as they richly deserved..Ten finished with Aliy including her little lead girl Quito.
A few other odd things cross my mind. Yesterday afternoon when Jeff King left White Mountain, I believe it was Joe Runyon, a long term Iditarod expert who follows and comments on the race, said something to the effect that, "It's King's race to lose." How prophetic was that odd remark? Did some intuition speak through his seemingly simple words? The double meaning was not clear at the time. But it was also noted that while Aliy did get some rest during the mandatory eight hour stop, King was totally wired, up and moving all the time. So I am wondering if fatigue played a role in his accident. The wind was no doubt awful and the reports say a fierce gust blew him and the sled and team off the trail and into a pile of driftwood and debris. At that point, the route follows a narrow spit of land where high tides and storm surges deposit a lot of ocean flotsam.
The dogs became so entangled in the mess that he could not get them freed to travel on--all the while fighting the wind and cold. Could he have drifted a bit off the trail and not been alert enough to steady his dogs and get them past this situation? I expect we will never know. He would have been the oldest winner, at 58 to the senior Seavey's 54 last year, adding a fifth win to his record and dramatically breaking the speed record; maybe he was just too keyed up. At least I do not believe he or any dogs were seriously hurt.
Dallas Seavey and Aliy did run the 1st and 2nd fastest Iditarods ever at 8 days, 14 hours and some minutes to John Baker's 8-18-xx which was in 2011, not 2010 as I said yesterday. So there will be mushers straggling in to Nome for the next day or two--some fifty or so still out--but the race is really over. While it is a tremendous accomplishment to finish at all, history only tends to remember those who win. Place and show may be noted but beyond that you are just an also-ran. However, I say it is much, much better to have given it your best shot, tried with all your soul and accomplished an incredible feat, win, lose or draw! My hat is off to all who cross that final line in whatever order they may do so. They are all heroes and examples of courage and determination. And those wonderful dogs are awesome, amazing and absolute athletes.
Welcome to my World
Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!