Volunteer Tales

The Volunteers are the backbone of the Iditarod.  They are involved in every area of the race. They are passionate about what they do, about the race, and about the dogs.  And, they have some great stories to share!

A Magical Night

by:  Stacey Cardy, Communications Volunteer at Yentna 2012

I have so many wonderful memories of Iditarod both on the trail and off the trail.

One of my favorite memories ever happened during the 2012 Iditarod. Although I’d volunteered for years in communications at the headquarters in Anchorage, it was my very first time doing trail comms at a checkpoint.  On the Iditarod Trail! Me! Doing an official job! My checkpoint was Yentna, the very first checkpoint on the trail. Yentna is known for being very busy as teams will usually show up close together or at the same time.  My team of three communications people had worked tirelessly into the night taking musher in/out times and number of dog counts. We radioed the info via walkie talkie to our fourth person inside the lodge who emailed the info to Anchorage where the info was posted officially online.  It was dark and getting colder by the minute but I was warm in my down jacket and bibs, hat and bunny boots. The out-chute the mushers pass through has a bonfire for light and warmth. The last of the mushers had passed into and out of the checkpoint and all but one team had left for Skwentna.  The two front comms team people came to wait with me at the bonfire as we waited for the last musher to rest and feed his dogs and leave.

A lone figure finished tending to his dogs and wandered up to the bonfire. It was Dan Seavey. One of the founding fathers of the Iditarod.  At 74 years young he was running the 2012 Iditarod to emphasize the Iditarod National Historic Trail’s Centennial, 2008-2012.  He visited with us at the bonfire and shared stories about the “old times” running and how times (and the race) have changed between now and then.  We asked lots of questions and we laughed and talked for ages.  And one of us looked up into the sky and the aurora borealis had come out.  It was a faint green, but it was there shimmering and dancing in the northern sky.  Words can’t express what an amazing moment that was, standing around the bonfire with my awesome comms friends, our new friend Dan Seavey, listening to Iditarod stories and watching the northern lights!

But all good moments become good memories as Dan said goodbye and took off with his dogs down the trail. We radioed his out time and walked back in to the lodge to a hearty warm spaghetti dinner and chat with excited volunteers and spectators.  I will forever cherish the wonderful memories of that night with Dan and my fellow Iditarod comms team under the northern lights.