This letter is to thank Marc Lester for telling us the story of this year’s Kobuk 440 — probably the biggest story, among the many, of this year’s race. Those of us in COVID-19 confinement can at least have a taste of the blustery snow, the unknown, the deep soft snow, trailbreaking, remember our experiences with bitter cold and a have little exposure to the valiant struggles of our state’s biggest dreamers, daring adventurers and their wonderful dogs tugging along the disappearing trail.
I enjoyed Mr. Lester’s telling of the tale and was gripped by the story of Jeff King’s battle with hypothermia and his and Philip Hanke’s tough decision to ask for help. I didn’t know, prior to this, that the race had such safeguards as satellite messaging devices, and was relieved to read about them, and the teams of people willing to go out in the blizzard to check on mushers. Once again, I was reminded of the adventurous spirit in so many Alaskans that leads them to try their hand at dog mushing and, ultimately for some, devote their lives to it. The courage and ridiculously tough spirit of the people who do, and how they handle the challenging conditions of racing dogs across Alaska — in winter, naturally — is so inspiring.
Thank you, Mr. Lester, for taking a heartfelt interest, for telling us the story, and to the Anchorage Daily News, for devoting space, time and money to these types of stories. They, and the race organization, make us proud, and that’s a rare commodity these days. And a big congratulations to Mr. Hanke and Mr. King, for using their wits and intelligence to get back home safely without losing any parts or dogs.
— Jody Seitz
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