I am on the Internet enough that I knew about Blair Braverman. Dog pictures make it far and wide, as do dog stories. I have mixed feelings about sports that reply on animals, even dogs who always seem happy. But I admire (from my couch) people who wish to undertake long endurance tasks. And I usually tune into the last hour or so and move on.
And then I subscribed to the Iditapod and well, learned a lot of things. Always fascinated by the people that keep going for the honor of 30th place. It is easy to remember that fastest is just one metric. Past winners this year came in in the double digits or had to scratch all together. One team crossed the line only to have the finish discounted when a dog fell ill and died.
Stories floated about teams where the lead dogs quit wanting to lead and no dog stepping into the gap, so everyone was happy but unfocused. A team that got so worried about the human while crossing the river that they kept trying to turn back to the closest shore. Teams traditionally plan to drop dogs along the way, either illness, or team dynamics, or other issues. Such that there's an extensive process for having folks along the route ready to help care for non-racing dogs.
And of course like lots of project teams we have all been on they all started the same day and at the same time and they all had different experiences. Timing of rests and regroups affected everything from stamina to where you were when the snow hit. One racer was able to lend his sled after he scratched to a team that had been patching the sled together.
Much like reality show teams, much of what filters out to the public is snippets, and of course one-sided since we never get the dogs' perspective. Fans helped schools fundraise while waiting.
The last two teams are still out there, as I write this. But the 2019 Iditarod has turned out to be an interesting experience to witness through the internet.