Team #6, 6 More sleeps
Andy George 200SIX CHAMPION & his son Brad, their bios can be found here, but today’s story is about their bib number.
SIX DAYS into the race all the racers will be thinking of the final leg on Saturday morning. They will have arrived in Tanana on Friday night and be hosted by Cynthia Erickson and the hometown of Arnold Marks of Team four-zero. Tanana is where Arnold Marks teaches history, math and English. His daughter Reese has been working this past month putting sleds together and putting all the practice/break-in miles on the Agnes/Marks race machines. Tanana is home of the best trail stories, a good rest before racers put their machines and bodies to the final test!!!
SIX HOURS is the usual course time from SKW to Nikolai. On Sunday morning when racers are completely amped up, they need to chomp up as much of the course as they can, we will see veteran racers go to McGrath in less than 9 hours and some that will take 24.5 hours. It is a brutal first day for many. Some will take their first layover in PUNT and some will tally one to Rohn, while others are sitting in McG waiting for the clock to tick to Monday morning, daylight has dawned and they are ready for Day 2!!
SIX MINUTES is what it might take to fuel and oil and sign a time card in Shaktoolik. Shak isn’t a layover, it is a place that a racer typically arrives fresh off a big layover in UNK, so they are pumped to moooooove!!! This year because the trail might be too much open water, this is where the racer has to decide, to go over the sea ice or “Up and Over” it means adding miles to the course and taking on enough fuel to make this dash the long way, but in the end it could mean no drying time if they take an unexpected and certainly unplanned “Polar Plunge”. Hmmmmmmm let’s just say, it might save them more than SIX MINUTES!!!
SIX SECONDS the funny thing about seconds is they add up to minutes and hours. If a racer wastes them, it just gets added to their course time. For me it remindes me of the checkpoints a racer will see two times on the course: WHITE MOUNTAIN, KOYUK, SHAKTOOLIK, UNALAKLEET, KALTAG, GALENA, RUBY…..I know it is more than six, but they do get to do seconds at each one of them.
I was lucky to do SIX races. My life began at Iron Dog in 1996 getting ready for the 1997 event. It was the first time I had done a race, I was a total rookie, I worked SIX times harder than was necessary, but I was feeling my way. I had SEVEN race teams finish when 14 started: Carr/Davis, Faeo/Gilman, Palin/Drake, Brown/Hayden, Richardson/Schuerch, Whitstine/Zugg, Anderson/Strick, 50 percent of the field, it became my personal mission to see more than that finish every single year. I have enjoyed my “Second” life at Iron Dog, I get to volunteer and see my Iron Dog Family every February, smell the fumes of the Two Stroke and hear the rumble of the engines as they come to life on Sunday morning. I was even luckier to travel to Nome last year and see the midway activity and to catch some incredible moments on film at the finish line.
I look forward to this week, wish nothing but the best to all the field, but especially to Team SIX, Andy George, 200SIX champion!!! and his son Brad as they go forward on their quest for an Iron Dog like non other. Father and Son, ride hard, ride fast and enjoy all the moments!!!!