Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Red Lantern

Mane and I talked today about the Red Lantern Award. The Red Lantern is awarded to the last person to complete the Iditarod each year. It started out as a joke, but it has come to represent persistence, perseverance. More good words. The last person to finish the race has stuck to it through the same things everyone else went through without the glory of winning, or coming in 2nd or 10th or 22nd.

This year that person will be the 60th person to complete the race. The race began with 82 mushers and their dogs. Some "scratched" for injuries. Some crashed their sled and could not continue. At least one person had ill dogs. Completing the Iditarod, no matter how slowly, means you have met a challenge and prevailed. No easy task. Not something just anyone is up for.

It's a beautiful object lesson in perseverance. Races are often used as an analogy for living the Christian life. Paul, in the New Testament, admonishes believers to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. I love the Iditarod as a particular analogy, though, because it isn't short. It isn't a sprint. It isn't even the 26-mile Grandma's Marathon. It's over a week long...through wind and snow and dark of night. The mushers go alone most of the way, with checkpoints to stop and rest and markers along the way. They are expected to help each other in trouble, though, and they are expected to make wise choices about their dogs, their team.

And a lantern is lit at the beginning of the race that is not blown out until the last musher has finished the race...thus, the Red Lantern awarded to the final musher to cross the finish line. There is something about this that speaks of the way you aren't really alone in the race. People know you're out there, and they are waiting for you, with the lantern light still shining. And there's no ridicule for finishing last, only a welcome embrace congratulating you for your persistence.


  1. I hoped you have enjoyed this years competition as much as I have.

    The spirit of adventure, of staying the course during trying times or conditions by those along the trail, both human and animal is a testament to the human condition.

    The dogs love to run and the weakest link (the humans) strive for untold goals and aspirations.

    It has been fun writing about the race this year and seeing the dogs leave Anchorage every year. It is truly incredible and The Amazing Race.


  2. Indeed, we have enjoyed the race! We had a celebration last night in honor of Jessie Royer, who we followed throughout the race & who finished 22nd yesterday, as you well know.

  3. Hello and thank you for dropping by.

    We do have great coverage of the event and Cabela's films a great show for the OLN on cable tv. It is usually shown several weeks after the actual race so they can edit all of the film footage. Check it out when it comes on.

    The sad part of this amazing race this year is that most of the media outside Alaska have not covered anything. This race was so awesome and inspiring for many reasons but Lance Mackey's win of the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest within a month of each other was incredible.


  4. I'll have to watch for the cable coverage. We don't get cable at our house, but we can go down the street to the grandparent's house.

    I was sad that mainstream media didn't cover the race at all. I'm even more sad now that I've actually followed the race and witnessed what a truly amazing race it is. Ironically enough, Mango, who is a high school teacher, got an Iditarod poster in his inbox at school, even though nobody around here really knows about the race. We're hanging it up on our little homeschooling wall!


It's always good to hear from you!