For a while today the youngest and the oldest mushers of Iditarod XLVI were in Unalakleet. Jim Lanier who is 77 was parked on the slough at the same time as 18 year-old Andrew Nolan. Lanier and Nolan are running near the middle of the pack.
Lanier has run in five decades of Iditarod. Nolan is a rookie. The two could sit down and talk over advances in just about everything – sleds, clothing, boots, dogs, nutrition, etc., etc. Lanier’s first Iditarod was in 1979; Andrew’s first in 2018, just about forty years apart. Andrew is a JR Iditarod Champion (2017). Jim is currently mentoring a young 14-year-old musher who ran his first race, the JR Iditarod this winter.
Lanier has had some bum-luck that past few years on the trail with injuries but he’s an example of the saying, “Age is a matter of the mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” He’s recovered from a broken collarbone, ruptured Achilles tendon, pneumonia and a knee injury to move closer to his goal of running in six decades.
Nolan is a young man living his dream. There have been other 18-year-old mushers to make the run to Nome – Melissa Owens Stewart, Ellie Claus, Ben Harper, Noah Pereira and Dallas Seavey to name only a few. As Andrew was booting his dogs for the run to Shaktoolik, he was saying that it’s quite unbelievable to be at mile 737 of IDITAROD. He especially appreciated the run on the southern route through the old mining towns of Ophir and Iditarod with the Ophir area being his favorite of the trail thus far.
Jim Lanier has written a book to chronicle his experiences in his first Iditarod. The book, “Beyond Ophir,” was released in 2013 just prior to Jim’s arrival in Nome. Jim’s first race in ’79 is the backbone of the book that’s been called entertaining, exciting, occasionally informative and mostly the truth.
Not only has Jim;s life gone to the dogs but he’s taken his family with him. Jimmy Lanier is a veteran of the JR Iditarod. In 2000, Anna Bondarenko became the only Russian woman to enter and complete the Last Great Race®.