My road to Iditarod has involved a lot of false starts. I was given options to run with various teams– But I always declined, because I knew it would break my heart to run a team that I’d have to leave at the end of the day. I wanted to run my dogs, my pack– and go home with them at the end. I needed to do this with my dogs, my pack, my little family. And so I’ve been building towards that, carefully, for years.
It’s hard to believe this moment is here. It’s not how I envisioned it. 20 years ago when I first asked Martin Buser to teach me to mush, it was driving back from the traditional June Iditarod Sign Up picnic. I was asking to run the Jr. Iditarod, but I knew I wanted to be signing up at that gathering.
Instead, I’m sitting at my computer on a rainy June day, alone. In some ways it’s fitting. I am looking out over my dogs, who are tucked into their bright houses. Hooch is snoozing hard nearby. That good girl who began this journey with me, who was the real start of ATAO, is getting older and older. She can’t hear much, but she still loves to run and check on puppies. She gallops across our big lawn to help supervise all the youngin’s carrying forth the ATAO name.
With our new pups, there are 28 dogs at ATAO. One of the pups– Pilot– will be heading to his father’s home, Dark Horse Racing, soon, which will leave us 27 here. 27 is a good number (in my weird, neurotic numerology). So is 21. And 2021 will be 20 years since I ran my first race.
So while it is hard to believe this is here, it also seems auspicious.
Even though we had a rough season last winter, between porcupines and all number of other things, I think the team is ready.
My real question is, will I be ready? It’s the scariest question to ask.
I know I can do this. I’ve known I could do it since I began, and every step I’ve taken has shown me more that I can.
I have a lot to do to make this happen. A lot of work on myself to do. The dogs are ready. The infrastructure is ready. I am blessed with an incredible following who have supported us through thick and thin. The stage is all set: now I have to step forward and speak my lines, with as much courage and truth as I can muster.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m terrified. Not terrified of the race (that terror will come later), but terrified I won’t live up to the dogs, the hopes, the people who are cheering us on. To my own dream.
And amid that terror, I also know in my bones, we can do this. I can do this.
And we’re going to. I’m going to click a button and complete the signup. Right now. It’s time.
Are you ready?
Eff it, let’s go.
If you want to support our race, here’s how:
- Make a one-time donation towards our general fund. Currently this is going towards costs for booties, straw, dog food, dog house repairs / upgrades, gravel for the dog yard, vet costs, etc.
- Become a Buddy! You’ll get great updates, and it’s the best way to help us make it down the trail month-by-month
- Share us with your peeps! Our biggest presence is on Twitter, but we’re also on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.