A windy morning in Nome had an international flavor. Brazilian Luan Ramos Marques crossed the finish line at eight minutes after eight. Russian Mikhail Telpin lead his team under the burled arch just a few minutes before 10:30. Both the Brazilian and Russian flags had been flying over the burled arch earlier in the week before the winds kicked up. Race organizers decided to take the finish banner and the flags down before Mother Nature took them down.
Luan Marques was the 49th finisher of Iditarod XLI. He is the first Brazilian to complete Iditarod. Luan’s dogs charged into the chute with more energy that a classroom of kids on Friday afternoon. Marques was handed a small Brazilian flag in the chute and was met by his coach, Vern Halter of Dream a Dream Musher Training Center. The rookie from Brazil is now a veteran! Luan came just 111 miles short of meeting his goal of driving 16 dogs the length of the trail. Fuselage stayed in Elim, back at mile 825, with a sore wrist. Marques and Jake Berkowitz finished the race with the most dogs on the gangline, fifteen. Fuselage is from Halter’s airplane parts litter.
After moving down the line through his dogs with a lot of praise and pets, Luan was interviewed. When asked about the race, he said it was fun, hard at times and the trail was tough in some places. The trip was long and it was challenging but a good feeling being on the trail and in places where few others go. Very remarkable. Not only did Luan’s dogs charge into the chute, they charged out of the other end after all the ceremony of their arrival. If they were interviewed and asked if they’d like to run to Nome again, their answer would have been, “When can we go?”
With a stiff wind at his back, Mikhail Telpin and eleven Chukchi Huskies made the burled arch. Wind driven snow was swirling down the street and around the chute. The Chukchi stopped a few feet short of the burled arch but in order to finish, the nose of the lead dog must cross under the arch. Mikhail urged them on but with all the spectators, the Chukchi didn’t know where to go. Telpin walked forward and led the team under the arch – the time 10:27 and his place was 50th. Telpin’s dogs are working dogs, he uses them for trapping and transportation. They are strong dogs, used to harsh weather. They seemed comfortable in the chute and thought it might be time to curl up and catch a nap. This is what they’re used to doing in their everyday life with Mikhail.
All along the trail, folks have done their best to communicate with the Russian. Sometimes it was by pictures drawn in the snow and for the vets it was a card with key phrases that each could point to. In McGrath somebody knew how to say good-bye in Russian and so we all learned the phrase to send him off. Fortunately in Nome there were fans in the chute who were fluent in both Russain and English. Through an interpreter, Telpin told reporters and fans he was happy to be in Nome. He said he expected the Iditarod Trail to be easier because everyone told him the Quest was harder. From his own personal experience, he thinks they are both about the same but Iditarod might be a little harder this year.
Telpin’s greeters included fellow Racing Beringia team member Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Luan Marquez, Newton Marshall and DeeDee Jonrowe.