I got off duty at 6:00 this morning. After a relatively long drive on very slick roads and of course the ordeal of grocery shopping (not my favorite thing), I made it home just in time to watch John Baker cross the finish line in Nome, to claim the prize. I can relate to John's words at that finishing ceremony, when I said "I can't wait to get home and be around all of my friends and family up there." For John, 'up there' is Kotzebue.
John's race will be one for the record books - literally. Crossing under the burled arch at 9:46'39", John completed the course in 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds bettering Martin Buser’s record by more than four hours. Baker is the first Alaskan Native to win the Iditarod since the mid-1970s, and the first Inupiaq to ever do so.
Ramey Smyth gave John a good run, and pulled across the finish line running ahead of his dogs at 10:50'59". His time for the run between Safety and Nome was 21 minutes faster than Baker's, but he just ran out of real estate before catching up to Baker's team.
Hans Gatt took third place in the race, followed by Dallas Seavey, who made a huge move late in the race in order to improve his position. Hugh Neff crossed the arch in fifth place followed by Sebastian Schnuelle and Ray Redington, Jr. It looks like Peter Kaiser, Jessie Royer and DeeDee Jonrowe will be rounding out our Top-10 for 2011.
Meanwhile, back the ranch - or rather back at the Stardancer Historical Sled Dogs kennel, the dogs have all been fed and loved up on, the primate has eaten, and I need to hit the rack pretty soon in hopes of changing my circadian rhythm from "night" to "day" mode. The weather is warming, telling me it's time to get out on the trails while there is still snow enough to run the dogs on sleds. Early up means I can get early out. I am SO looking forward to it.