Wednesday 3/11 – Day 5 Melissa’s Post
Thank goodness for work! It is difficult not being stuck to the computer screen throughout the day, but my job, luckily keeps me busy. And when I get home, the last thing Brody wants to do is sit in front of a computer and watch a little green blip move across the screen.
If you have been keeping track, Bruce, is running with the “big guns” and his run times have been incredible. Like I said before, it is early in the race, but the dogs are looking strong.
He has dropped three dogs so far. McKinley came home yesterday thanks to Dean Osmar. She is a young female pup, one with little race experience. I am not surprised that she has come back to us so soon. Her sister Ruby though is still on the trail. Ruby knows when to back off and just have fun. The other two are in Anchorage as I write being well taken care of by our friend Patty. I know one is sick and the other just didn’t want to pull anymore. But they will be fine and utterly spoiled when they return to the kennel.
About 12:30 p.m. today, Bruce called! It was good to hear his voice. He sounded tired, but in very good spirits. He rambled his run times and wanted. It is incredible how he can analyze all the numbers, times, splits etc… with little or no sleep for the last four days.
So, he wanted me to share a couple of stories that I am sure he will go into more detail when he returns…
The Dalzell Gorge is probably the most treacherous run on the trail. Bruce had nightmares before last year’s Iditarod about this very stretch. Late at night, when the trail markers are harder to see, his team ended up taking a wrong turn going down to the “gee” instead of “haw.” As a result, he got stuck in waist high snow with a sled tipped over. While trying to untangle the team, Bruce lost his footing, which he thought was secure. The floor of ice collapsed and he was dangling, hanging onto the sled with no footing below. He said the ice floor dropped at least five feet. He yelled to the dogs and they pulled him out of the hole. (I remember a part in the movie Snow Dogs where the dogs did the same thing!) As he stated, “I was in quite a spot and I told God as soon as I got to Nome, I would take Brody to church.” We never go to church, so, I can only imagine at this moment in time, Bruce was pretty scared at what could come from the situation he was in.
Later that morning, he got caught in a 40 mile per hour wind storm across a river, which was a sheet of ice. He said the dogs were balled up – he could not even find the leaders. He crawled on his stomach and led each dog, one by one across the frozen sheet of ice and tied them individually to trees on the river’s edge. Finally, Jessie Royer came by and asked if he needed help. She was able to help get some of the team across. Bruce said that incident took the wind out of the pups and as a result, his run time was a bit slower than he would have liked.
Currently, Bruce is in Takotna with most of the other front runners taking his 24 mandatory rest. He is ready to go and waiting to feed the dogs, get his gourmet steak dinner and get on the trail again. He is expecting the next few days to be a slow slog through the new, wet snow. He hopes the dogs will remain strong. He said they are eating like pigs and resting well. Bruce is having the time of his life!
More to come tomorrow… J