Friday, March 7, 2008

Iditarod Day 7 - Jonrowe 1st @ the Halfway Point Lance 1st to the Yukon

DeeDee Jonrowe at the Ceremonial start in Anchorage March 1st, 2008. She is carrying a rider as part of the opening festivities. Some folks pay to ride, and some children are granted rides on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Photos of Dee Dee from her Website

This Posted by Jon Little in Race Coverage

CRIPPLE - March 6, 2008, Checkers huddled around the inflatable palm trees set up as a joke at this remote tent camp on Wolf Kill Slough were expecting Paul Gebhardt as dawn broke this morning. Instead, they heard a woman’s voice chirping across the snow-covered swamp speckled with black spruce.

It was DeeDee Jonrowe, and nobody was more surprised than she to be the winner of the GCI Dorothy Page Halfway award, which comes with $3,000 in gold nuggets. A stunned Jonrowe reportedly was thrilled, saying today was her husband Mike’s birthday and she hadn’t gotten him a gift yet. The gold would do fine.

This from Iditarod Press page : At age 54 Jonrowe has been running the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race since 1980. (this is her 28th time!) She holds the fastest time ever recorded by a female musher, and has garnered thirteen top ten finishes. Her Iditarod record is HERE .

A Side Note: I recently read her story; Iditarod Dreams; A year in the Life of Alaskan Sled Dog Racer Dee Dee Jonrowe , co-written with Lew Freedman. In it, I learned that in addition to being an extreme musher she is also a Christian, and happy to Praise the Lord at every turn of the trail. A passage from her book reads: "The top priority in my life is to be the best I can be wherever the Lord wants me to do service. A lot of people think if you're going to influence people's lives, you have to live your religion by becoming a missionary in Africa, but I don't believe that's the case. I believe the Lord has a purpose for me as a Christian dog musher. There are not that many Christian dog mushers. In fact, if you think about it there are fewer Christian dog mushers than there are missionaries in Africa." She is pretty funny, and is a gutsy and inspiring, not to mention quite glamorous gal as well. (Gotta love her pink frilly-skirt mushing coat!)

And Back to Race Coverage

“This is probably the first time in the history of the Iditarod that the award was won by a person who didn’t even know they were in first,” said Bruce Lee, the Yukon Quest champion, former Iditarod musher and current Insider analyst following the race.

If Jonrowe was jubilated, her competitor, Paul Gebhardt, was crushed. “That was the worst run of my life,” he said. He’d been leading the race but ran into a series of problems. First, he had to pack a 60-pound male dog only a few miles beyond Ophir. Then wet snow started falling, soaking everything in Gebhardt’s sled. It was taking so long to reach Cripple that the tired musher thought he must have overshot the incoming trail, and he backtracked about a mile before running into Jonrowe. By the time Gebhardt arrived here, he’d been on the runners for 20 hours, starting in Takotna. He’d camped only three hours on the trail. The 17-hour slog in warm weather effectively takes him out of the hunt for a win, he said. “I really, really hurt my dog team doing that. They’re not quitting, but it took so much weight off them. I pretty much took myself out of contention.”

Gebhardt wasn’t the only one traveling slowly, or the only musher here feeling a little dispirited, questioning their judgement. It’s par for the course. The fastest times so far, posted by Martin Buser and Cim Smyth, were 11 hours from Ophir. Two years ago, Jeff King made the run from Ophir in about eight hours. Cim Smyth put it this way: “It’s like somebody stretched the ground in the two years in between.”

Martin Buser proved to be a practical joker, for anyone watching the satellite tracker and wondering why Buser was suddenly shooting around the terrain at unreal speeds. He took the two pound tracking device off his sled, handed to a pilot and asked him to fly around for awhile. Just for laughs. Buser was wearing a loud, red Hawaiian shirt and plaid green and blue pajama bottoms for comfort while taking his 24. Son Rohn looked remarkable, coming here just three hours behind his father.

MORE NEWS: Rohn, March 6, 2008 – Rookie musher Kim Franklin, from the United Kingdom, was withdrawn from the 2008 Iditarod earlier today.

Franklin reported that one of her dogs chewed through the gangline and two dogs left the team during Franklin’s nighttime run from Rainy Pass to Rohn. She was unable to locate them and went on to Rohn.

Under Iditarod rules, mushers must arrive in a checkpoint with the same number of dogs that they left the previous checkpoint with in order to continue in the race.

A withdrawal has the effect of involuntarily eliminating a musher and team from the race but does not imply any deliberate misconduct or violation. The two dogs were located back down the trail in Rainy Pass and were flown to Anchorage and released to their handler.

ALSO:IDITAROD XXXVI MUSHER Cliff Roberson, (Bib #56) made the decision to scratch at this morning, at 8:15 (March 05, 2008) at Rohn Checkpoint. The 60 year old Iditarod musher from Corvallis Oregon incurred minor injury to his eyes. Roberson had fifteen dogs on has team at the time he decided to scratch.

ALSO:IDITAROD XXXVI MUSHER Jessica Hendricks, (Bib #23) decided to scratch this morning, at 8:00 (March 05, 2008) in Nikolai Checkpoint. The 25 year old Iditarod musher from Two Rivers Alaska made the decision to scratch because of the effects the warm weather had on her team. Hendricks had 7 dogs on her team when she scratched.

AND: IDITAROD XXXVI MUSHER Jason Barron, (Bib #41) made the decision to scratch this morning, at 9:40 (March 06, 2008) in McGrath Alaska on the banks of the Kuskokwim River. The 36 year old Iditarod musher from Lincoln Montana stated that his dogs were sick. Barron had 14 dogs on his team when he decided to scratched.

Eighty-nine mushers and their teams remain on the trail and on the way to Nome.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - (March 07, 2008)
LANCE MACHEY - FIRST TO ARRIVE IN THE YUKON..in time for a 7 course breakfast and $5000~

IDITAROD XXXVI Musher Lance Mackey (Bib # 6) was the first to arrive in Ruby Alaska this morning at 7:32 with 14 dogs. Ruby is nestled on the Banks of the Mighty Yukon River. Mackey was greeted by well wishers and a seven course meal courtesy of the Millennium Hotel Anchorage, proud sponsor of "The Last Great Race to Nome."

As the recipient of the "First Musher to the Yukon Award", Mackey was treated to a seven course meal prepared by Millennium's Executive Chef, Keith Culhane. This year's menu included Chicken and wild mushroom terrine, Yukon potato Bisk with shrimp ravioli. The main courses included halibut flowers on a bed of peach chutney, and a fillet of beef stuffed with Alaskan king crab, along with brie en cruet. A desert of raspberry crepes, served with bitter sweet chocolate sauce rounded out the succulent feast. A carefully selected fine wine was served with each plate.

Mackey received a special "after dinner mint" of $5,000 crisp $1 bills presented by Millennium's Food and Beverage manager Brooke McGrath.

NEWS found Here Race pics are by Jeff Schultz. Readers please go HERE to enjoy more of his amazing shots from the trail.I drafted most of this late last night. And already it is old news....

It is very interesting to watch the lead positions change through the course of the race. Lance has been first, and he has been much farther back. DeeDee was first at the halfway point, and today she is running 17th. No one who has ever been first at the hafway point, has ever won the whole race , so now I'm rooting for DeeDee. Though the good money is probably on Lance Mackey; he has turbo powered pups!

The variables on the trail, and for each person individually, are huge. You really can't call it until it's done. Errors in judgement, equipment issues, injury, fatigue, crummy snow conditions, or illness for dogs or driver, can all take a strong leader and put him or her in the back of the pack. Riding that edge between knowing when to push your team, and knowing when they need rest, is a major factor to just completing this race. Winning it, I'm sure is a whole new mind game.

A tapped out team will just lay down and stop running. It is in the driver's best interest to keep them healthy, fueled up, rested, and in good spirits. So, even when grinding through warm soggy snow, or getting lost on the trail, the driver must maintain a calm and positive attitude or the dogs pick up on the frustration and funk, and it brings the whole team down, often with dire consequences.

This provides an insightful metaphor for life; Don't get yourself too worked up or bummed, because your team may fall apart!

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