The Olympics just finished up, but we still have Olympic fever at our house! So, it's a good thing the 38th annual Iditarod sled dog race begins on Saturday, right on the heels of the 2010 Olympics, and just in time to keep feeding our hunger for great sports action and stories.
This will be our 4th year following the Iditarod, both for fun and for education. Over the years we've been drawn to the stories of the mushers (the individuals who "drive" the sleds), and we have learned much about character, strength, generosity, and endurance. I'll never forget the story of the musher who lost one of her dogs during the race. She was so heartbroken that another musher offered to stay with her and keep pace with her for the rest of the race, just for company, thereby giving up an possible competitive finish for himself. And then there's the Red Lantern - the prize and trophy awarded to the last competitor to finish the race, a tribute to that musher's determination and an acknowledgment that any finish in this race is a prize-worthy accomplishment. I've found that the race and the stories that happen on the trail are so often analogous to the rest of life and faith.
This year we'll be following more that a few mushers. Of course, we'll have to keep tabs on some of our favorites: Martin Buser, DeeDee Jonrowe, Jessie Royer, Aliy Zirkle (in alphabetical order so as not to pick favorites).
We'll also be watching the 7 female rookies this year (Jane Faulkner, Kathleen Frederick, Tamara Rose , Michelle Phillips, Kristy Berington, Celeste Davis, and Colleen Robertia - listed in the order they're listed on the Iditarod website, also so as not to pick favorites). That's SEVEN women who have never run the Iditarod before this year!! I find that pretty amazing.
Finally, we'll be following Sam Deltour of Belgium, who was the first Belgian to finish the Iditarod (2008) AND the first person ever to finish with all 16 sled dogs (also 2008), Wattie McDonald, who is from Mango's country of ancestry, Scotland, and Newton Marshall, who is interesting just by virtue of being from JAMAICA!
That covers 14 of the 71 current entrants! Every year we seem to accumulate a few more names of interest. ;) We look forward to seeing what new projects we can build around the race this year and, of course, to a great party to celebrate the finish!