Some things on this race have broken or been hurt:
- sleds of Ryan Redington and Katti Jo Deeter
- finger of Jennifer LeBar (it was dislocated and bent at an unnatural angle)
- ribs of Aaron Peck when he wiped out on a steep turn/hill in the Happy River Steps
What do mushers do in these cases? There are not doctors in most of the checkpoints. Vets are there, but not people doctors. If mushers have an injury, sometimes it is bad enough to scratch, or withdraw, from the race. Others keep going. There are many trail stories of people traveling the Iditarod Trail with an injury. Sometimes a veterinarian will have something to help a musher, though their specialty is us dogs!
For broken sleds, mushers carry repair items just in case. Duct tape, wire, screws, and bungee cords work in a pinch. They also send extra sleds ahead to be able to switch out for a new sled. Ryan Redington is hoping to do that. Last year, interestingly, he gave his extra sled to another musher whose sled had broken.
So, why do the mushers get so excited about driving their teams and sleds down the Happy River Steps and over the Buffalo Tunnels where this year, there were jagged rocks, mud, and all sorts of obstacles? Many say it is the thrill of making it through such a challenging trail. Others just love being with their dogs out in the beauty of Alaska in the winter!
I know that we sled dogs definitely love to be outside, running with our team. The difficult part is to get us to stop, not to go!
Until next time,