Full Circle Moment

Jason Mackey comes off the ice into Nome. Photo Credit: J. Holmes

Iditarod 2023 is coming to a close and it’s ending just as it should, all the pieces coming together, all the loose ends tied up, all the closure necessary to move forward and back to real life.  

Ready to pass of the Red Lantern. Photo Credit: J. Holmes

Passing the Red Lantern to Jason Mackey. Photo Credit: J. Holmes

Last night the race concluded with an epic finish. Jason Mackey came up off the ice to receive the red lantern – from me! After all I have seen, all I have done, it was truly the greatest honor to welcome him to Nome. This race began with bib #1, the honorary musher, the late Lance Mackey – Jason’s brother – starting this race. It was Jason who carried Lance’s ashes (along with their mother’s ashes) down the trail. It was Jason, and Lance, sweeping the trail, last into Nome. Jason is an 8-time Iditarod finisher, no stranger to the challenges and struggles of this race, and I will never know what caused him to be running a 5-dog team at the back of the pack – that is between Jason and the Trail. What I do know is that some things are just fate, with a certain amount of destiny guiding the way, and in the chute yesterday it felt spiritual, the perfect conclusion to this story.   

Jason Mackey greets the next generation of mushers at the Iditarod 2023 Finish. Photo Credit: J. Westrich

Earlier yesterday morning I happened to be sitting in the “mini” convention center chatting away when I had the great honor of sharing in the joy of the first photos of Jason’s brand-new granddaughter, born the night before his finish. As one circle closes, a new one begins – circles of family, circles of love, and circles of life. Iditarod might be a point to point race – Anchorage to Nome – but it creates never-ending ripples that bind together those of us who are lucky enough to be part of it. 

That’s a wrap! Jason Mackey leaves the chute to conclude the 2023 Iditarod. Photo Credit: J. Westrich