This week I’ve been refreshing the GPS Tracker on iditarod.com as often as I can, tracking #49 with a little bit of an obsession. I’ve been in and out of Alaska for about 10 years but this is the first time I’ve taken such an interest in following along. Until Mary signed up as a rookie this year I hadn’t spent much time learning about the course and exactly what kind of dedication, drive and courage it takes to start off on this crazy journey. But let me tell you…It. Is. Crazy! (In a good way!) 1049 miles into the Arctic Wilderness. How awesome! I bet she is seeing some stunning beauty right now.
It has been truly inspiring for me to know Mary before she had run a single sled dog race, to watch her get steadily closer to her goal over several years…and now to see her achieve that goal as she headed out on the trail on Sunday! She is incredible. This past summer Mary lost her home and practically all of her material possessions in the Sockeye Wildfire in Willow. For most people, that would have been enough to overcome in one year! No one would have blamed Mary for postponing her race another year…but I’m pretty sure we have all been impressed & encouraged by her drive, her strength, and also by her love and care for her dogs.
On Sunday I photographed Mary & her team for the last couple of hours before they headed out of Willow at the Restart of the Iditarod 2016 Trail. The energy back there was high and kind of intense but Mary seemed calm, collected and ready to hit the road.
Mary…right now you’re at racemile 228, closing in on Nikolai. I hope you know how many people are thinking of you, praying for you and cheering you on!
Iditarod 2016 Restart in Willow :: Mary Helwig
Filed in: Anchorage Lifestyle Photography
March 9, 2016