Some run to win the race and others run to finish and prove that they can. Miles of frozen tundra and ice, hours of trotting down the trail, and days of little to no sleep. Sometimes I think that this is the hardest and worst thing I have ever done-what am I doing out here?!
Then I see a beautiful sunset over the ocean or maybe the Northern Lights dancing across the sky and all from the back of a sled being pulled by 16 of my best friends-then I know that there is no better place to be then right here running "The Last Great Race". (excerpt from Jessie Royer's webpage)
That's the first paragraph from Jessie Royer's account of her 2005 Iditarod run. I wish I could print the entire text here, but I encourage you to visit her site and read all of her beautifully written stories from other races.I have to admit that a week ago I knew very little about Jessie Royer. I knew she had pigtails and that was about it. After reading her list of accomplishments, I was embarrassed that I had not been paying better attention to this up and coming young woman's involvement in the sport.
My friend, Kathy from BirdingRVers , suggested that I feature Jessie on this week's Monday's Musher. Kathy had met Jessie and found her to be a sincere, dog-loving lady, who embraces the spirit of the Iditarod.
Kathy said, "I met Jessie while up in Fairbanks this past July and she is a sweet unassuming racer. You can tell she loves dogs and sledding, they were all over her for attention. She was doing the sled dog demonstration, while we were on the Discovery III paddle boat trip. Afterwards, there were questions, I couldn't help but pipe up, "Jessie, where did you place this year?" She nonchalantly said, "Only 14th." She left out the fact that she was the first woman to cross the line, ahead of Dee Dee! Later I even checked with the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla. The lady there in charge of the stats agreed, "Yes, she was the first woman this year!"
Jessie Royer, 32, was born in Idaho. She grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana where she lived for 21 years. She worked on ranches as a horse wrangler & horse teamster. She says she got her first sled dogs when she was 15. She started learning about dogs from Doug Swingley whom she worked with for a couple of years. She had dogs in Montana seven years before moving to Alaska in the spring on 1998. She now has a kennel north of Fairbanks with 65 dogs. Jessie has extensive mushing experience including having won Montana's Race to the Sky when she was only 17 and she was the winner of the invitational La Grande Odyssee in France in 2005. She says her hobbies are horses, hunting, mounted shooting, drawing, braiding and photography.
I'm happy I learned about Jessie now, so when she wins the Iditarod (keep your eye on her) I can say, "Oh yeah, I've been following her for a long time."
Kathy, thank you so much for your suggestion. I can promise, I'll be trying to get Jessie's autograph at the Musher's Banquet. (along w/ 2,000 others-chuckle)