|Martin Buser's dog , Seattle photo courtesy of Happy Trails Kennel|
Erin Montgomery, teacher on the trail, writes this when speaking about Iditarod musher Cindy Abbot, “students asked Cindy which is harder, climbing Everest or running the Iditarod. Her answer shocked the students. She told us that the Iditarod is much more difficult. Her reason is because in the Iditarod, not only are you caring for yourself, but you are responsible for the care of your 16 best friends.”
|Dallas Seavy Photo courtesy Alaskan Dispatch Loren Holmes|
I believe, just by participating in this, all 79 participants and especially the 65 that finished the 1049 miles of the Iditarod, deserve an award. This year they faced temperatures of -40 below, and such high winds that Wade Marrs, one of my very favorite mushers, lost the trail for a brief time. Can you imagine just being out there in the middle of nowhere, in a snow globe someone won’t stop shaking? As scary as that sounds, to me, I can feel the exhilaration and just imagine the wonderfulness of it all.
|Friend of Wade Marrs, Ashley Perry, who had Turner's syndrome ,Marrs dedicates his miles to her and bringing awareness to the disease. Photo courtesy of Jeff Schultz|
|Artwork courtesy of the official Iditarod artist John Van Zyle|
Another reason I believe they are all winners is the way they treat their dogs and put them first. I admire the camaraderie so very much. The Iditarod is not only a race but a time to spend with your dogs. It is a time for our youth to see what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it.
|Martin Buser in Huslia , photo courtesy of Matthew Smith KNOM|
I believe most of the contenders in the Iditarod have wonderful morals and integrity. This year my favorite musher, Martin Buser, decided to not push his dogs too hard, he thought of the big picture after spending time thinking on the trail. As he came into a checkpoint he states he saw a sign that read, “We teenagers look up to you.” Martin says, “It made me choke up alittle bit. Maybe the local teenagers might actually have some meaningful lessons learned by us old timey mushers. Maybe I touched somebody just by being me, by doing what I do.” He also states, “That’s when you can really lead by example. That’s maybe when in the darkest moments you can make a difference. When somebody thinks about checking out, but they don’t. People can overcome, people can tough it out. If I make this race so important that I compromise my values, then I’m a loser. That’s what I don’t want to happen.” Martin ended up placing 22nd this year. In my opinion, by putting his dogs first and knowing they were not up to being pushed hard this year, and deciding to just let them enjoy the ride with him, makes him also a WINNER!
Yes, Mr. Dallas Seavey is the first to cross the line but what makes him a winner in my eyes, was when talking about his dogs he stated, “They trusted me and put everything on the line and got us their fast and I trusted them and gave em back more rest and I knew they’d give it back to me on the next run.”
There is true love being shown for these dogs and you are always a winner when you spend time with your dogs.They always give you their all and a bond is formed that words cannot describe.
|Fifth place musher Aliy Zirkle photo courtesy of SP Kennel|
Camaraderie , care for our dogs, feeding them first before you eat, being a good team mate, and having a goal and achieving it are wonderful lessons and is what the Iditarod is all about . These ethics , in my opinion, are a lesson worth sharing and most importantly, as Martin states, ‘leading by example.’
|Martin Buser with a young fan , photo courtesy of Erin Montgomery|