The Endgame Now Begins


All the drivers of the Iditarod have run an ultra competitive race so far, but it was Kotzebue’s John Baker who was the first to throw down the gauntlet, taking a scant four hour break at the checkpoint of Eagle Island and initiating the prelude to the endgame–

The endgame of a 1000 mile sled dog race, the final stages of a mission to the dark side of the moon. These final moves that are designed to begin re-entry into the atmosphere, to bring your rocketship down out of the screaming heavens and pray to almighty God himself that you don’t burn up as your fragile machine blazes through the atmosphere.

Baker issued that challenge on the Yukon River–he threw that gauntlet down and dared his rivals to come after him…and incredibly, they did…Hans and Hugh and Ramey and Sab, those four didn’t even blink, just shucked their teams out of their strawbeds and put the hammer down. Baker pulled into Kaltag, saw what that posse was all about and hit them back as hard as he could which was very hard indeed.

But they were plenty tough, they took his best shot and still they came, lanterns held high and dogs loping through the long night on the way to the fabled Bering Sea. And Baker ran like the warrior he is, made it there first, took that gold and some rest besides…and still his adversaries pursue, locked onto his scent like wolves after prey. But old Johnny ain’t done, not by no long shot, he took his 4 and blew out over the mountains looking for Shaktoolik.

And the response was strong, immediate, and purposeful. They followed after, and as the sun bled into the western terminus, it was Ramey and Hans who emerged with mounts most ready to chase. John’s got no choice now, he’s got to run like hell and hope those monsters run out of parts, hope the finish line show up before they catch him and pull him down.

It’s not looking like its going to happen–Hans and Ramey have blood in their eyes, and they smell his.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….

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8 Responses to “The Endgame Now Begins”

  1. Marlene Phillips-Daniels Reply March 13, 2011 at 22:45

    WOW Jason, there are some powerful “word Pictures” in this piece. I loved it.

  2. You are a true wordsmith and give incredible insight into this wonderful race. Thank you for this blog and your comments at ITC–FB.

  3. I agree and heartily Concur that Jason Barron is one of the Next Generation of “Iditarod Bards”, following in the footsteps trod by Bruce Lee and Joe Runyan!!

  4. “Iditarod Bard” — I love this description of Jason!
    @Jason: Ballad of the Northland so beautifully captures the “fine madness” of running dogs and living in the wilds of Alaska. The book will join Gary Paulson’s Winterdance as my annual pre-race reads! (And Ballad is a far more poetic and compelling work!) Your blog posts are the very best of the race coverage around! Thank you.

  5. LOVED THIS jASON. AWESOME WRITING.

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