November 20, 2017

Eye on the Trail: Bacon and Wiljes are in Nome

Second Time in Nome for Kristin Bacon

Ever smiling Kristin Bacon stood under the burled arch for the second year in a row. Last year her goal was to finish with a healthy happy dog team and in so doing she collect the belt buckle given to all rookies who finish Iditarod. This year, her goal was to finish with a healthy happy dog team by running the race her dogs were capable of. Kristin’s team was really jazzed at the finish, no doubt they were healthy and VERY happy. They were energized and acted disappointed that they’d already reached Nome. As Kristin’s mandatory gear was checked, her dogs were lunging and barking to go further. It would be a very fast trip to the Nome dog lot for Kristin.

Bacon finished in 53rd place with 12 dogs in harness and a time of 11 days, 5 hours and 45 minutes. In 2016 she finished in 69th place with a time of 12 days, 23 hours and 41 minutes. Congratulations Kristin on a major improvement!

Kristin’s initial involvement with Iditarod came as a volunteer at Skwentna Checkpoint as one of the Skwentna Sweeties. She met Ryan Redington and ended up getting Libby from him in the spring after the race. From the moment she acquired Libby, she knew her life would never be the same. Libby gave birth to a litter of puppies and Kristin had started her Iditarod team.   Having stood under the Burled Arch twice, she’s experienced 2 thousand mile treks across Alaska, countless training runs and many qualifying races with incredible canine athletes. Her life is not the same.

Kristin grew up in Ohio. After she earned her degree in Physical Therapy, Bacon took a job in Alaska. It was the opportunity to work with children in the unknowns of Alaska that lured her to the Last Frontier. Kristin really enjoys sharing the sport of mushing with children in the community, especially adapted mushing activities with her pediatric clients.

Rookie Misha Wiljes Arrives in Nome

Rookie Misha Wiljes has made her way to the finish line through whiteout conditions from White Mountain. Musher’s who’ve arrived in Nome throughout the day have been caked in snow. The zippers or their sled bags have been white stripes with tiny black teeth. The rough on the hoods of their parkas have been a mix of fur and grains of snow. Misha was no exception but she had good news. Yes the wind was blowing and it was a whiteout but the wind was at her back. The east wind was blowing her toward Nome.

Wijles and Leaders

Nothing but the best for her canine athletes that had just finished Iditarod! Misha went down the line with a package of fresh beef making palm sized meatballs and playfully tossed them to her dogs.  They loved the game and caught them in mid-air. While in flight, a few morsels might have fallen to the snow but it didn’t take the dogs long to sniff them out.

Is One of Those Meatballs for Me?

Misha is the twenty-eighth woman to complete both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod. Misha has also done the Serum Run from Nenana to Nome along with the Copper Basin 300 and Northern Lights 300. Misha began mushing in 2000. She learned about dogs while handling for Charlie Boulding, Judy Courier and Vern Halter. After finishing the 2012 Yukon Quest,  Iditarod became her next challenge. Misha and husband, Gerhard, have established their own kennel. She is living her dream of running long distance races with her own dogs.

Wiljes was born and raised in Prague, the capitol of the Czech Republic. Liking to travel, she explored much of Australia and the Yukon Territory before she decided to settle in Alaska. In the past 11 days, 9 hours and 37 minutes she’s traversed Alaska to make the Burled Arch in 54th place.