March 03, 2004



Last week I wrote about my friend Rod Boyce, the news editor at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Rod got about halfway through mushing his dogs along the grueling trail of the Yukon Quest sled dog race last week before calling it quits in minus-50 temperatures.

His wife, Julie, sends along this e-mail and a spectacular photo of Rod at the helm:

Rod was hugely nervous at the start and really, really sick.

He wound up having a good time on the Quest, for the most part. He's getting ready for a 100-mile race on March 12. He's also looking forward to the 2006 Quest.

This mushing stuff is way addictive.

Rod also sends along this note:


Hey, glad to hear you keeping watch on me. It might have been better, though, if you would have strapped on a harness and started pulling. Wait a minute, that sounds nasty.

Well, it sure was an experience, and I'll probably try again in two years, when the race again goes that direction. I'm pretty happy even though I didn't get to the end. I managed a series of personal firsts: first time running 14 dogs, first time traveling that far (560 miles), first time (and last, I hope) running dogs at 60 below, first time wearing Depends (yes, apparently mushers do this at the start of a major race since it's difficult to stop. And the way my morning was going, I had reason to want a pair.)

I made a couple of rookie mistakes that put me way behind. You know, dumb things like not putting a fresh set of runner plastic at every checkpoint and flinging my spare set into a dark abyss while dragging on my belly behind the sled while trying to climb up to Eagle Summit. And then there's my poor decision to shove the team on an eight-hour run to reach a checkpoint when I had only trained them to run six hours at a stretch. Anyhow, I learned loads and will revise how I train next season so I can have it together for the 2006 Quest. It's a lot of work but sure beats anything else I can think of -- short of maybe buying a 1968 Firebird and cruising around looking for... well, whatever.

You know, the thought of you in a harness just ain't pretty.

Rod of the North

I couldn't agree more, Rod. I couldn't agree more.

Posted by Jeff at March 3, 2004 11:18 PM | TrackBack