Katherine Keith finished today in 32nd place, a little more than an hour out of the money. She was fifth ranking rookie. She picked quite a year for her first Iditarod.
Long time race observers rate this year’s trail among the worst. There are many years that have had issues, but this year there were perhaps more than I have ever heard about. Ice, dirt, tundra, wind and even a little cold weather thrown in. The happy faces and easy going demeanor observed in Anchorage and Willow were gone, far gone, by the time the teams reached Nikolai. There was a stretch of normal trail then before it turned into a mess again on the coast. One thought comes back to me that has been repeated many times when Iditarod racers gather. Sometimes on the trail I said to myself “ Do they really expect me to go there?” Others admit they said the same thing, more than once. But that is part of the attraction. The comforts of home just don’t excite everyone. They need to get out and feel the wind in their face, and face a challenge.
The folks who made it have quite the story to tell, and I’m anxious for a chance to hear it from folks in the middle and back of the pack, folks doing it for the first time. Part of the enjoyment for fans like me is hearing how difficult it was, and marveling how they did it.
For all the folks who don’t understand the race, and and are critical of it, there are few who would deny that there is no event quite like it. It’s the Super Bowl of Alaska, only bigger.
I have enjoyed once again adding my thoughts to dozens of voices who do daily commentary on the race. I congratulate all of the racers and the folks who put on the race. If the trails are good, I hope to be doing this again next year.