Down to a nine-dog team and reduced to super-gluing the skin cracks in her fingers, Edmonds' rookie musher Jan Steves finally glided past the Alaska finish line at 2:57 a.m. yesterday, officially ending the 2012 Iditarod Trail sled dog race. Placing 53rd in a field of 53 finishers, the 55-year-old sister of travel guru Rick Steves completed the cold and snowy 945-mile trek from Anchorage to Nome in an exhausting 14 days and 12 hours - six days behind the winner. But she met her main objective - to just finish - and won a trophy to boot.
Steves was awarded the coveted Wells Fargo Red Lantern, presented by Scotty Watkins, Wells Fargo's Nome Community Banking Manager.
After the ceremony under the Burled Arch concluded, the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ended with Steves extinguishing the flame in the Widow's Lamp, signifying that all mushers and their teams were safely off the Iditarod Trail.
Most other racers had hit Nome days earlier. Steves, along with her friend and fellow racer Bob Chlupach, who finished 52nd, were unable to make Sunday's finisher's banquet. So the Iditarod held a Red Lantern Banquet last night at the Nome Mini Convention Center for Steves and Chlupach, ceremoniously awarding the lantern to the Edmonds mom of three grown kids.
Earlier Monday, still on the trail, Steves wrote on her blog that she had to drop a couple dogs from her team at a check point.
Tok is tired and I can tell that he is no longer enthused. I know that he could make it to the end, but I will not push him. He is one of my faithful old-timers. The second dog is Bohr as he may have a virus. I think that our runs will be too strenuous if he isn't feeling himself.
She was also using Super Glue on her fingers, split by the cold, and worried that she'd no longer be able to get a comb through her matted hair. "I sure hope that I don't have to get a buzz cut."
In anticipation of her finish, brother Rick blogged yesterday, "Talk about a travel adventure. I'm dreaming of interviewing Jan - once she's back home in Seattle - on my radio program. I've got so many questions."