Steves is ready for 2nd IditarodOnly 1,000 miles to go Jan. Good luck!
Jan Steves is just days away from starting her second Iditarod; the 1,000-mile plus dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.
Steves won the “Red Lantern” award last year, which signifies the last finisher to cross the line in Nome.
But last place is no small fete. Anyone who finishes has accomplished something that most of us could only dream about.
This year, Steves has experience on her side; she’s run the race once and knows what to expect. But what you expect isn’t necessarily what will happen.
“I know what happened last year,” Steves said. “I’m prepared. But everything changes.”
Steves doesn’t mean changing from year to year, but day to day on the trail.
“The trail can be different one day to the next,” Steves said. “Good conditions to those in the front of a race could be a blizzard to those further back. You never know what to expect.”
Take snow levels, for instance.
Last year had around 14 feet of snow on the ground. This year there’s about 3 feet. But the conditions should be good.
A nice, mild temperature (for Alaska... mid 20s or 30s) can be disaster to those in the race.
As of Wednesday morning, the weather looked good for the 10 a.m. Saturday, March 2, start in Anchorage and the 2 p.m. Sunday, March 3, restart in Willow.
“It’s about 15 right now,” Steves said. “That’s a good sign.”
Training for the race has brought Steves significant experiences this year.
“I just had my first moose encounter,” she said. “He wouldn’t leave the trail. I had a 16-dog team and they were all barking and jumping.”
But Steves found a way to get the large animal away from her and her team.
“I used blood curdling screams,” she said. “I just kept screaming and screaming.
“Thankfully, I had to turn onto another trail, and he didn’t go onto the same trail we did.
“You just hope and pray you don’t see the head go down and the ears go back.”
But Steves doesn’t want to focus on trail conditions and animal stories.
She said there is talk about low snow and no snow on parts of the trail, but until she gets there it doesn’t really matter.
“I just need to focus on what’s ahead of me,” she said. “I got through everything last year, so I just can’t worry about it. It just adds more stress.”
Steves has the experience from last year, but the race follows the southern route this year, so a large part of it will be new to her.
“I’ll have familiarity on my side,” Steves said.
She’s familiar with the dogs and the equipment and the stress of the race – but everything else will be different.
Another new stress this year is recovering from a knee injury, but Steves has had a lot of help getting back in shape.
“It’s doing remarkably well,” she said. “I’ve been looked over by ‘Rapid Recovery’ in Anchorage and got a special knee brace made up from ‘Bledsoe’ from Texas.
“They both ended up being sponsors.”
Steves said she’s also been seeing “First Choice Physical Therapy” in Wasilla.
“They gave it all they had,” Steves said. They went above and beyond.”
The physical therapy practice, owned by Jeff and Deana LePage, also became sponsors.
So it’s back to the trail for Steves and her dogs. She’s fit and ready. Only 1,000 miles to go Jan. Good luck!
Go to http://livingmydream2.blogspot.com/ for daily updates on Steves’ progress during the race.