10 a.m. Thursday, March 15 —Busers use finish chute as canine playpen—Fans from Eugene—by Joe Runyan
Finding that reporting reality has its limitation, since you can’t report Mushdom without exceeding the speed of light, I brush off a few criticisms from fans who hoped for more coverage of their favorite musher and happen to catch Martin and Rohn Buser in the Nome finish chute.
Utilizing the finish area as a magnificent canine playpen, the Buser’s release their chargers, to the amusement of fans, who watch them circulate in about the crowd, in several instances mistaking a few fans as fire hydrants to mark their territory, further fascinating the crowd of Buser supporters. In practice, Martin likes to release his dogs at the dog truck, then call and gather them up for boxing in the truck, a fun diversion that has many useful advantages. If Martin or Rohn lose a dog on the trail—broken harness or tug line—they can easily call the dog.
Rohn and his Dad, the 4x Champ Martin, raced down Main Street, with a narrow eclipse by Rohn to the Burled arch. Rohn gathered up the mob of dogs and walked toward the dog yard, dogs in motion like amoeba on the nature channel, where he tethered dogs at the Buser dog yard set up at a friend’s house. Now an institution, the array of igloo dog houses is a Buser landmark in Nome.
At the same time, a chance to redeem an unfortunate loss of photos (for the second time, a visual image of Dr. Kim Hinneman has been mismanaged, but this one shows her on the job with the Buser dogs). Kim and DVM associates Betsy King, from Dallas and now habituated to Alaska, and Paul Pifer are found examining the Buser dogs. These three are ubiquitous and one wonders when they sleep.
For your information, I also see Dr. Morrie Craig, head of the Oregon State Veterinary School and an elite testing facility, who tells me the Buser’s team are in the top twenty, and therefore all will be drug tested at 1PM this afternoon.
JERRY Sousa and son Nicholas into Nome
Jerry Sousa and team trot down Main street with an assistant musher, captured in a quick photo. I yell out, “Who’s riding the sled with you, Jerry?” He hollers back, “Ndjbnksklsmbkl”, so I ask a spectator from Eugene Oregon, what did he just say. “I think Nicholas.” She has been a dedicated Iditarod fan and follows the race closely. Another fan, from Massachusets, hooked on the race when Susan Butcher dominated the field in the late ‘80’s, confirms “Nicholas.”
When I ask our film guys if they got the name of his rider, they didn’t remember his name but recalled that his son also rode the runners out of the Willow restart with his Dad.
Then my now found insider contact from Eugene commented that I should have given Aliy more coverage in the beginning of the race, which is a fair criticism because she went on to scorch the field with a hard fought second place finish. This is an interesting philosophical musher insight, since early leaders of the Iditarod are not necessarily the actual leaders in the end. In fact, when trail breaking is a consideration, an early lead is not necessarily a great strategy move.
Through last night, I witnessed the highly advertised match up between Hugh Neff, this years YukonQuest Winner, and Michele Phillips. These two, as reported by diligent Insider GPS analysts, were neck and neck from White Mountain, with a grueling main street battle predicted. The grand confrontation never occurred, with Michele and team marching in strongly several minutes before Hugh Neff and team dressed in brilliant white and red striped Dr. Zues outfits, came to the finish. I tried desperately to get a photo but couldn’t maintain a ten mile an hour sprint while focusing my camera. Please refer to the excellent video available at the Insider.
Incidentally, the most dangerous place on the Iditarod trail is Nome, where I have seen numerous dumps and face plants on dangerously icey sidewalks. I saw one woman with hiking shoes and ice crampons, not a bad idea based on my experience of near dumps.
Michelle gave special compliments to her leaders Wiley and Merlin.
Lance Mackey, the 4x champ, arrives about 11 25 AM
My admiration for Lance Mackey the 4x champ is obviously not disguised. I worked with Lance on his book , the Lance Mackey Story and find him to be a truly inspirational sports personality.
He arrived just ahead of Jodi Bailey, one of the mushers on the trail you enjoy interviewing, given her alert and fast thinking riposte. Asked about her obviously zippy dog team, “In hindsight, Jodi, given the apparent speed of your team, could you have moved up in the standings?” Translation, of course, becomes Jodi, why are you here with this dog team.
“Well, the hold up in Shaktoolik (referring to the winds that held mushers in the checkpoint) destroyed my plans. A sign at the checkpoint said the trail into Koyuk was closed until they could remark the trail, and even Ric Swenson, who was in the checkpoint, said, “I wouldn’t go out in that wind.” Jodi snacked her dogs parked parallel with Lance salmon chunks.
Lance, in that characteristic fast moving stocatto that I can recognize from a distance, was busy ladling scoops of a meat and kibble ration on the snow before his huskies. Always a hands on musher, he took control of the team and led them out of the chute for the dog yard.
“I need to talk to an official,” said Lance. He confided to Mark Nordman, Race Marshal, that he had left his mitts in White Mountain. Someone asked if his hands were ok. At that time I noticed his frostbitten finger tips, which he dismissed. Before the race, Lance confided that pain in his hands was significant, a a fact that hasn’t changed as he manages this team of dogs in the finish chute.
The fact that Lance, the 4x champ, the only guy in Iditarod history to dominate for four years in a row, was stuck in the depths of the finish list, is a raw realization that all has to go perfectly for a great finish.
Aaron Burmeister, first to be interviewed for our Post race documentary
Aaron Burmeister, 4th place 2012 Iditarod, also brings his experience and acumen to the Iditarod board. Aaron has been an active advocate, especially from a mushers perspective, on the Iditarod board. Elected, then re elected to a three year position on the board, he has dedicated four years hard work to the Iditarod. I catch him moments before his sit down interview with Greg Heister, and ask him about the direction of the Iditarod organizaton. ‘We are moving from some financial difficulties to real fiscal strength. Our sponsors and the ITC board are all workng towards building a solid organization. I am passionate about the sport of dog mushing and the Iditarod.” Raised in Nome, he watched the Iditarod as a boy, and dreamed of competing.
Beautiful day in Nome. You could comfortably walk the streets in Nome with your bare hands in your pocket, sneakers, and parka zipped halfway. The Nome siren blares again, trumpeting the arrival of Cym Smyth.