October 15, 2018

Eye on the Trail: Shaynee Traska in Nome

Shaynee Traska into Nome on St. Patrick’s Day

Shaynee Traska was the first musher to sign up for Iditarod 2018 back in June. She was the first musher into Nome on St. Patrick’s Day. True to her style, Shayne came in wearing a big smile. Friends, family and Iditarod officials greeted Traska when she arrived in the chute. Her dream of running Iditarod and finishing with healthy happy dogs had been fulfilled. She’d earned every penny of the entry fee that she won at the sign-up picnic.

Paxson, in single lead, brought the team down Front Street in a smart trot. Shaynee praised her dogs, especially her leader who took her through the blowhole. When asked to describe the performance of her dogs, Shaynee thought for a moment and finally said, “I’m speechless but they were incredible.”

In Unalakleet, Shaynee said the race had been hard. Today in Nome she was in awe of what she’d accomplished saying, “I’ll have to let this sink in.” When asked if there was another Iditarod in her future, Traska hesitated for a second then replied, “Let me sleep on that.”

Shaynee’s parents were at the finish. Her Dad said they had all the confidence in the world in Shaynee and in the dogs but it was Mother Nature they worried about. What would she dish out? She dished out plenty – a blizzard near Iditarod and Shageluk, blowing and drifting snow on the Yukon River, invisible trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet, more winds and whiteouts between Shaktoolik and Koyuk and her final challenge was the blow hole.

Shaynee said the run this morning up the hills out of White Mountain was pleasant but then she came to the geographical features that create the blowhole and pleasant changed to brutal. Traska called it the toughest part of the whole race saying, “I’d step off the sled to bring my leaders back to the trail and without holding onto something, I’d get blown over.”

Traska isn’t one to count her chicks before the eggs have hatched. Or maybe I should say, count the puppies before they’re born. She said she didn’t really feel completely confident that the race was in the bag until she was on the downward side of Cape Nome, ten miles from the Burled Arch.

Coming in at 07:09 in 48th place with a time of 12 days, 16 hours and 9 minutes, Shaynee earned the coveted Iditarod Finisher’s Belt Buckle. The buckles are presented at the Awards Banquet to be held at the Nome Recreation Center on Sunday afternoon. As it looks right now, the final three mushers will arrive in Nome yet today with plenty of time to rest and recuperate before the Sunday Celebration.