Susan Butcher, 4 time winner of the Iditarod dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, passed away on Saturday after being diagnosed with luekemia last December. I never met her, but she was the source of many good memories of my childhood and young adulthood.
My dad lived in Alaska for 25 years and the Iditarod was one of the many “exotic” things I pictured when I thought of my dad. She was the 2nd woman to win “the last great race” and was the first 3 time defending champion. One of my lasting impressions of Alaska (even though I’ve now been multiple times) is the saying that came from her wins:
Alaska. Where men are men, and women win the Iditarod.
Yes, a rough and other-worldly place, Alaska is also a stark and beautiful place. But, to me, Alaska will always represent another world, one that is slightly removed from the comforts and difficulties we face every day, a storybook world where we can be whatever it is we want to be…and screw those who think we’re crazy.
Susan Butcher had a lot to do with showing me this picture.