Jessica is a musher in the 2011 Iditarod.
Racied in the 2008 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog
2006. Hendricks, 23, was born in Alaska and is
one of the brightest young mushing talents. Rookie
of the year in 2003.
The 2005 Tustumena 200 is one of the last
mid-distance races before the Iditarod, and has
become a high-profile proving ground. This year,
two women highlighted the T-200, each with
something very different to prove.
Jessica Hendricks wanted to test her dogs in
this hilly race one last time before the Iditarod,
while Rachael Scdoris who is legally blind
explored the subtleties of distance racing
in Alaska with the help of a visual interpreter.
Hendricks dominated the race, crushing the
competition. She finished a half hour ahead of Jeff
King. Scdoris, meanwhile, was a leisurely 26th out
of 30. Yet both women were thoroughly satisfied
with the results.
Hendricks, rookie of the year in the 2003
Iditarod, isnt a surprise front runner to
those whove seen her team of dogs
descended from open class sprint lines race
over the last few years. But it was no small feat
besting the likes of King, Dee Dee Jonrowe, Lance
Mackey, Dean Osmar, Aliy Zirkle, Vern Halter, Mitch
Seavey, Paul Gebhardt and other very talented
Kings spirited team rolled in about a half
hour behind Hendricks. As he set his hook, he said,
First in the mens division
right? breaking into a big smile.
King and other front-runners opted to ride the
brake a little on the first half of the race, which
traverses the scenic Caribou Hills before reaching
a lodge for a mandatory six-hour break. Mushers
take the same undulating trail back to the starting
line, passing Lost Creek Lodge and Caribou Lake
checkpoints on the way back. Hendricks did not hold
back early, and her team maintained its pace on the
hard-packed trail. I tried to catch her, but
she actually gained three to four minutes on me
from Lost Creek to Caribou Lake," King said. "I
thought, This wasnt going to come
easy. He said Hendricks won the race in
the first half by opening up such a huge lead. Even
if King had done everything right, he said at the
banquet, he would only have been about five minutes
faster overall not enough to reel her
Mushers at the finish were astonished at the
speed, not just of Hendricks team, but their
own. Most train for an Iditarod pace of 10 to 12
mph, not the 13 to 15 mph that they experienced.
These dogs arent trained to go this
fast. This is a super fast trail, King
Hendricks didnt merely win. She set a
withering pace through the first 100 miles, leaving
some observers wondering if her dogs could hold the
speed, or if they would fade, allowing other teams
to pass. She reached the 45-mile mark at Caribou
Lake in three hours and 15 minutes, a stunning time
considering the trails up-and-down ascent
over ridges and through creek bottoms from sea
level to 1,500 feet. Sure, it was a fast year with
hard-packed trail, exquisitely groomed before the
race. But in most years, mushers take about an hour
longer to reach that checkpoint. Did Hendricks
intend to set such a blistering pace?
No, I just wanted to be competitive.
Thats why I race em, she said
shortly after the finish, as her dogs gulped down
raw beef thawed in hot water to form a red soup.
They gave me their hearts, everything they
had, the bashful musher from Two Rivers,
Alaska, said at the banquet after she was awarded a
first place check of $7,500.
Related Issue: Iditarod
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©1996-2017 by of Gordon Clay