June 29, 2017

Eye on the Trail: Early Arrivals on St. Patrick’s Day

Larry Daugherty in Nome on St. Patrick’s Day.

The break between Laura Neese’s arrival on Thursday at suppertime and Jodi Bailey’s arrival at 0540 this morning afforded the folks of Nome a full night’s sleep without the periodic wail of the siren.  Looking for 13 mushers, give or take a couple, to arrive on Front Street today.  Early arrivals will be in time for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for 13:00.  Word has it that 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail and Irish dancer, Annie Kelley will be dancing in the parade.  

To determine that, calculations are pretty basic but also slightly flawed. Start with the time the team arrives in White Mountain then calculate an out time including the final 8-hour mandatory rest. Next figure about a 10-hour run from the beach of the Fish River, over Topkok, through the blowhole, a short stop at Safety, over Cape Nome and off the sea ice up to Front Street and the final stretch of several blocks to the Burled Arch. Lots of things can happen along the way to make that ten hours longer or shorter, not the least of which is putting the bib on.  It’s only an estimate that sometimes proves to be pretty close and sometimes proves to be off by several hours. 

Jodi Bailey was the first of the musher’s to arrive in Nome on St. Patrick’s Day. As far as weather, the trip from White Mountain into Nome did not disappoint. There was snow and wind. Yes, it was warmer on the thermometer but just as cold as previous days in the “feels like” sense.

Bailey knew from the beginning that her young team would need a lot of nurturing and coaching. It was partly a puppy team and partly a veteran team including MK and sibling Topaz. Jodi was depending on those trusted veterans to set the example for the younger dogs. During some of the race, it turned the other way around, older dogs acting like puppies. Under the arch Jodi said her race was challenging but the trail was the best she’s ever seen with plenty of snow and plenty of beauty and very well marked.

Bailey has a perfect Iditarod record – started six and finished six. Bailey’s best finish was 23rd in her second run to Nome. Bailey and her husband Dan Kaduce share the responsibility and pleasure of sled dogs at Dew Claw Kennel near Fairbanks. Jodi and Dan are veterans of both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod as well as many other distance races.

Bailey maintains a very informative web site. There’s a list from Jodi as to the top ten reasons she loves dogs that includes much information on the physiology of sled dogs.   Jodi says, “Because I ask them to, they travel thousands of miles with me… and they do it joyfully, happily, with an attitude and ability that keep me in awe… it is my honor to run with such amazing dogs.”

Larry Daugherty sped into Nome behind 11 dogs in 44th place. This is Larry’s second run to Nome. Immediately after setting his snow hooks, Larry brought out the Tibetan prayer flags he’s carried from Fairbanks to Nome. Larry is a radiation oncologist. He carried the flags to honor his patients in Nome. The flags symbolize hope, strength, and well-being. This is something Larry wishes for all who are inflicted with cancer anywhere in the world.

As a rookie, Larry finished in 63rd place. Today’s finish is an improvement of nineteen places and nearly 24 hours.

On April 7th Larry leaves for Nepal with the goal of climbing Mt. Everest and standing on the top of the world. If he accomplishes the ascent, he will be the only person to ever do Iditarod and summit Everest in the same year. Daugherty will be carrying prayer flags as he trains and climbs in Nepal.