Geir Idar Hjelvik is back for his second Iditarod. He earned his finisher’s belt buckle in 2016. Geir didn’t stand on runners for his first experience with working dogs, he stood on skies behind a German shepherd. From there he began learning the sport of mushing and soon began his own kennel with dogs of Susan Butcher and Jerry Austin lineage. After competing in some of the Norwegian races, Geir began to think about doing the Iditarod. While Hjelvik has thirty of his own dogs, they are back home in Norway.
Geir got to experience some Nome weather as he made his way from White Mountain to Safety and into Nome. There was snow and wind to greet the Norwegian. Hjelvik is a competitive Norwegian Folk Dancer and enjoys making knives and doing other wood working projects.
Hjelvik has claimed 45th place coming into Nome in 10 days, 20 hours and 5 minutes behind a puppy team from Dallas Seavey’s kennel. I’m sure it crossed Geir’s mind more than once that he could be running some of Iditarod’s future champions! In 2016 Geir received the Jerry Austin Rookie of the Year Award in being the highest placing rookie crossing the finish line in 26th place.
Addison, Illinois landscaper Charley Bejna was led into Nome by a pair of blue eyed leaders named Black and Brown. Charley’s team came down Front Street and into the chute with a lot of spunk and energy. The dogs turned their heads from side to side taking in the city scenery as they covered the distance from the ramp off the Bering Sea to the Burled Arch. Wonder if they happened to notice the Husky Restaurant?
Charlie claims 46th place along with his 3rd Iditarod finish in a time of 10 days, 21 hours and 30 minutes. As a youngster, Charley traveled to Alaska with his father and toured much of the state. In 2007, Charley rode down 4th Avenue in Anchorage in Bruce Linton’s sled as an Iditarider. That seemed to be the turning point from landscaper to dog musher. Charley has come up through the ranks from Iditarider to tag sled driver to musher. Charley says, “I am entering Iditarod 2017 to enjoy the race and spend time with my dogs. As a Type I Diabetic, I want to show other diabetics that you can still live a normal life, even with diabetes, as long as you take care of yourself.”
With Charlie under the Arch, there was a little Mid-west gathering – Bejna from Illinois, Anna & Kristy Berington from Port Wing, Wisconsin and 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, Annie Kelley from Chicago, Illinois. Capturing the picture was Wisconsinite and your Eye on the Trail, Terrie Hanke.