First off, my heartfelt thanks to all of you that have taken the time to email kind words and thoughts on my scratch in Unalakleet. Of course, I am very disappointed, but I'm far from crushed. For me, a decision made for the best interest of my dogs is not an agonizing one - it is simply what needs to be done. There will be other years for us. Maybe not next year - but there will be other Iditarods down the road.
I do however want to address a thought that seems to be cropping up every now and again on the list - the thought that I am somehow 'superior' or 'more caring' because I scratched rather then continued on in the Race this year. That deeply bothers me because it simply is not true. The situations and circumstances that lead to me making the decision to halt my Race in Unk this year were MY team's situations and circumstances - they were not the same for everyone else. Not everyone else runs dogs suited to much colder conditions, not everyone else got that nasty bug this year, not everyone else's leader pool got decimated, etc, etc. The combination of these things (and a few others) meant that the responsible and humane decision for MY team was to withdraw - it does not mean that the other mushers remaining in the Race needed to be making the same decisions.
Heck a few dogs on my team were totally unaffected by everything the Race threw at them this year. If I had had more of those type of dogs on
my team, I would be in Nome today - but I didn't and I'm not.
Yes, it was a tough Iditarod this year - but due to many, many variables in each musher's life, each one comes into the Race in a different situation. Some this year had their best Iditarod ever and I'm sure they will be hoping and praying for somewhat similar Races down the road - I will not. As Susan Butcher probably bemoans the '91 storm that stole her 5th victory right from underneath her nose - Swenson celebrates it for giving him his 5th win.
That folks, is one of the things that makes this Race so interesting. We as mushers face whatever nature decides to toss at us - some years it might favor us, others it might hinder us. That is just the way it is. The option of scratching if the conditions are too unfavorable for your particular team are always there. The year it is -40 through the whole Race, I'll be screaming bloody murder if they cancel it because while those conditions may not be do-able for some teams - they are definitely do-able for mine.