Commentary

Ageism?

jim lanier

Jim Lanier at the Iditarod finish line in 2012/Julie St. Louis photo

Chugiak dog driver Jim Lanier is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet on the Iditarod Trail, and he has a problem, a bunch of them actually.

One might be as simple as his lack of a Twitter feed and 100,000 followers. If he had that, he’d likely be running the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race next year just like Blair Braverman did this year. 

But the aging pathologist is not into social media, and Iditarod has banned him from next year’s race as unqualified for reasons that have not been made clear but appear to relate to supposed performance declines linked to age.

Iditarod last year embraced the marginally qualified Braverman for her media presence, her youth and her salesmanship. A writer by trade, Braverman was everywhere talking up Iditarod in the lead-in to her rookie race, and she made no effort to hide her inexperience.

“I’ve never run 1,000 miles with my dogs before,” she wrote in Vogue. “I don’t know what that looks like. I haven’t experienced the trail. I haven’t been sleep deprived for that long before. So I’m essentially launching into a huge unknown.”

Braverman’s idea of an Iditarod qualifying race was the 300-mile (formerly 400 mile) John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Northern Minnesota. The Beargrease is to the Iditarod what your local marathon is to the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, a remote Alaska event that long required entrants to sign a waiver recognizing the race could prove deadly and which has suffered a fatality.

No one has ever died in Iditarod, though there have been close calls.

Lanier, a veteran of 20 Iditarods who has spent his life in Alaska and has been running dogs for decades, is far more experienced at Alaska survival and wilderness dog care than Braverman, a resident of Wisconsin. But he has also been on a run of bad Idit-a-luck, and he is old.

He has marked 78 years on the calendar. And though he does not look his age, he is equally and obviously a long way from the 30-something, Braverman-demographic the Iditarod would like to attract as fans.

Neither is there any denying that three of his last four Iditarods ended with his scratching due to injuries, and the fourth in 2018 resulted in the Bering Sea Coast rescue of Lanier and Anchorage’s “Mushing Mortician,” Scott Janssen.

Janssen was later recognized by the Alaska Legislature as a “hero” and Lanier became something of the goat although the situation was nowhere near that simple.

Suffice to say,  in the easy clarity of hindsight, if Janssen had pushed on to Safety and told Iditarod someone needed to go out on a snowmachine and help a stalled Lanier, the whole affair might have ended with little or no fanfare as is often the case in Iditarod.

Instead, as told by Janssen, it all ended up a near-death battle for survival though the bicyclists on fat tires who came upon the mushers hunkered down in a coastal blow didn’t think the weather particularly dangerous even as they worried about the two mushers they found huddling in the wind.

How great the real risk to Janssen and Lanier is debatable. Neither required medical treatment or hospitalization after their rescue, which would tend to indicate the situation wasn’t a bad as Janssen later portrayed it.

As for the easy-going Lanier, well, he wasn’t about to challenge a story a friend was telling and seemed to be enjoying even if it did make Lanier look like the cause of Janssen’s near death.

Afterward, Lanier just moved on.

He went north and this year finished 24th in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Fairbanks. That race with long distances between checkpoints and a lack of village rest stops is generally considered a physically more challenging event than Iditarod.

In terms of Iditarod “qualifying” races, the Quest could be considered a super qualifier. It would be to the Beargrease what a marathon is to your average, neighborhood, 10K fun run. It would obviously appear to qualify Lanier to run the 2020 Iditarod.

Rejected

Exactly why Lanier’s Iditarod 2020 entry was red-flagged and sent to a “qualifying review board” reported by various sources as staffed by Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman, Iditarod reporter Bruce Lee, and Iditarod race judge Karen Ramstead is unclear.

The Iditarod isn’t officially saying who was on the panel, but everyone in the Iditarod family thinks those are the three members. All are Iditarod veteran dog mushers and Ramstead is an expert on scratches, having dropped out of six of the 11 races she started.

The Associated Press reported Lanier was sacked because of “dog care concerns,” an accusation he has adamantly denied and which seems out of sync with his kennel. One of Lanier’s main dog handlers is Julie St. Louis, the co-founder of The August Foundation for Alaska’s Racing Dogs.

The Foundation, also known as the August Fund, finds homes for retired sled dogs, and St. Louis has for years been active in pushing for better care of sled dogs. St. Louis is no wall flower. Friends say they are confident that if there were any hint of inadequate dog care involving Lanier and his dogs, St. Louis would rip the old man a new one.

She said Monday that Laniers dogs looked great in Fairbanks after finishing the Quest last year.

The Iditarod, meanwhile, has long avoided the quagmire of dog-care concerns, arguing that its only responsibility comes during the race when veterinarians have the authority to take action if a problem arises.

Iditarod refused to get involved when accusations of dog abuse were leveled against former Iditarod champion John Baker from Kotzebue, and it did nothing when former four-time champ Lance Mackey revealed during the 2015 race that his fingers basically weren’t working.

It is hard to take care of racing sled dogs, whose feet often need booties and attention, if your fingers don’t work. Mackey’s brother, Jason, said he planned to follow along behind his brother on the trail and tend to the dogs.

Not that these sorts of issues are always overlooked. The legendary and late Norman Vaughan’s Iditaroding ended in 1992 after he was tossed out of the race by veterinarians angry that he didn’t take care of his team before hobnobbing in Skwenta, though that was never publicly reported.

Then 84 years old, Vaughan was more attuned to enjoying life than the experiencing more of the exhausting hardship of what is trademarked as The Last Great Race.

Why the Iditarod would reject Lanier’s 2020 entry instead of asking veterinarians to keep an especially close watch on the old guy’s dog care and boot him if any problems arose is another of those unknowns.

The decision and the lack of a full explanation has left Iditarod fans debating whether all of this is a good thing, a bad thing, the start of a mandatory retirement age, and/or a new precedent for dog care. The angriest of Lanier supports have posted a petition at Change.org to push for Lanier’s Iditarod reinstatement.

‘Jim’s reputation is that of a true professional who puts the health and well-being of his dogs above all, and he keeps himself fit and healthy. Indeed, most people are astonished when they learn his age, as his physical condition rivals that of men 20 years his junior,” it says.

“This year a small screening committee rejected Jim’s application to compete in the 2020 Iditarod, turning him down without so much as the opportunity to state his case or answer questions. Our petition is to implore Iditarod Officials and the Board of Directors to overrule the tiny committee’s decision and allow Jim Lanier and his team back on the trail for the 2020 Iditarod.”

Personal observations

As a reporter in Alaska for years, it would be remiss of me not to include some observations of Lanier in this story. As a dog driver, it is fair to say he is no equal to the late Susan Butcher or five-time champ Rick Swenson or Swenson’s old trail buddy Sonny Lindner or four-time champ Marin Buser or top-10 veteran Ramey Smyth or a long list of others.

Some people seem born to the trail. It is out there that they are in their element.

I remember snowmachining into a ground blizzard in the Happy River valley on the way to Rainy Pass in 1991 when Iditarod was worried about some of back-of-the-pack mushers then on the trail. Along Pass Creek below the climb to the Pass, an Anchorage Daily News photographer and I met a Brooks Range musher named Sepp Herman who’d parked his team.

It took about 30 seconds to assess that he was fine. His dogs were burrowing themselves beds in the snow out of the wind, and he was very efficiently setting up to bivouac. The dogs needed a rest before the climb, he said, so he was going to give them a couple hours.

The weather? It was pretty much irrelevant. Herman had seen worse and was comfortable in the conditions.

Lanier was never quite that guy. Born in Washington, D.C.; raised in Fargo, a medical doctor by training, Lainer has always been a little more urban than wilderness geek. There are city mice and country mice, and Lanier seemed always more the city mouse.

I can remember when he and his wife – Anna Bondarenko, the first Russian woman to complete the race – were rescued from Rainy Pass while scouting the Iditarod route in the late ’80s or early ’90s. At the time, it seemed somewhat predictable. But I was a lot younger then and a lot more full of myself.

I couldn’t imagine anyone calling for rescue unless they were on the verge of death or, at the very least, missing body parts. I still can’t, but that’s a ridiculously high standard to impose on others.

If I was judging who was and wasn’t “qualified” to run Iditarod based on my standards, the field might be reduced by half or more. I confess to being near the opposite of the late Joe Redington, the Iditarod founder who thought everyone should take a shot at the 1,000-mile adventure from Knik (now Willow) to Nome.

Lanier is of the everyone, and there have historically been far more Laniers in the Iditarod than race champions. If this case represents an attempt by Iditarod to raise the performance standards for all mushers, it might be a good thing.

But if it’s just singling out one musher because he’s old and someone has decided that spells incapable, the decision is nothing but age discrimination. Physiological performance declines with age. There is no doubt about that.

The problem is that it doesn’t decline at the same rate in all people, and everyone starts from a different peak. The late Canadian runner Ed Whitlock ran a 2:54:48 marathon at the age of 73 and was still running sub-four hour marathons at age 85.

The average finishing time for marathon runners in the U.S. is around four hours, 22 minutes for men and four hours, 48 minutes for women. Whitlock at age 85 was still close to half an hour faster at the distance than the average runner.

The point here is that performance can be objectively measured. If Iditarod thinks there are certain levels of physical and physiological performance necessary to be able to run the race and care for the dogs, it needs to come up with some sort of standards for what those performance levels and test the people it doesn’t think can get over the bar.

Because now, the race just looks like its discriminating against old folks, which would break the late Joe Redington’s heart. The race founder ran his last Iditarod in 1997 at age 80 – two years before his death from cancer – and finished a respectable 36th just 15 minutes behind much younger Dan Seavey, the patriarch of the Seavey clan. 

Lanier would appear as fit now as Redington was at that time, but there is no denying the Iditarod is now a different race as well. It took Redington and Seavey 13 days, 4 hours in ’97 on a trail good enough for Buser to win in 9 days, 8 hours.

On a trail that good 20 years later, a musher has to run under 9 hours to win, and the back of the pack has to pick up the pace as well to avoid being disqualified as “noncompetitive.”

When Seavey ran again in 2012 at age 74, his finishing time was only 15 hours slower than in ’97, but he ended the race third from last. If Iditarod’s concern is that Lanier can no longer keep up, it might have a better case than suggesting his dog care is sub-par.

Correction: An early version of this story mischaracterized Braverman’s Beargrease race. She entered that race but did not finish it, which meant she could not use it as an official Iditarod qualifying race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60 replies »

  1. The Iditarod executive director and board have been refreshed. But it’s mind boggling theITC still has Mark Nordman in the mix. Every bad, illogical and clueless action the ITC has made has Nordman’s fingerprints on it. Like this. Nordman should have been run off decades ago. It’s a bad sign for the Iditarod that this dufus is still a player.

    • If he is involved that is what he is paid for. He is the “line officer” in the chain of command but not the one who makes the rules or policy.

      • Tim you seem like a smart guy . Enlighten us with specifics. Every thing I read signals the opposite of what you say . My example- the board and ceo was exchanged for a new one . Mark is the main power player who hasn’t changed. ( aside from A veterinarian and communication director who’s name I dont remember ) Policy has stayed the same. Mark has title race director ( I believe) and race marshal. That’s a major consolidation of power. From what I’m told he chaired the entry panel and helps choose who the panel members and judges are . From what I read he sits at board meetings and tells board information he wants them to hear. From what mushers have told me he is on drug testing panel with head vet and comm director . He only tells the board what that group agrees to say . Mark and head vet have control over rule creation so I hear . They may sit on the rules committee and may be involved with choosing its members. Mark also appears to have had complete employment control over Joanne Potts he fired her according to Facebook information. She was a senior employee 40 years with organization. This caused a Facebook uproar which bled onto Anna and Jim . Im told the board only concerns themselves with the buisness end of Iditarod at this time . Obviously second and 4 th hand information. So from a logical analysis mark Nordman is the common denominator to 20 years Iditarod drama . He shielded Dallas positive doping tests and created secrets which created distrust. This indicates things would change if Nordman was somewhere else . He weilds an iron grip on Iditarod according to all information that’s gatherable. But that’s just my opinion. For a I care idiotrod can keep him on as main man and follow their asine history,I really don’t give a rats arse as Iditarod is best off to be shut down as a corrupt organization then no one has to hear about it again . It had its glory in the 70s . Good riddance. Now Tim let’s hear your specifics at appears you are way more informed first hand than us and I’m sure your ideas hold more weight. Thanks

      • It’s a real pity to hear you say that about the Iditarod needing to be “shut down.” It’s been such a big thing in my life since I was a little boy that I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t a big factor in my thinking on some level. I assume it’s just the ITC you mean that needs the boot, not the concept of a 1000 mile race across bush Alaska?

      • Jason, yes it appears ITc . 1000 mile race across Alaska is probably more important to our culture now than ever before. Imperative perhaps. I apologize for the overly dramatic negative language. I believe the term coined by Norman Vaughn is as poignant today as it was then . Dream big and dare to fail . Our current ItC crowd has destroyed the race with ethics failure and poor management. When you sheild dopers and trample old people ,disqualify who you wish , enforce rules unevenly as you wish the future presented does not look good . Not to mention I’m told their books are a mess and their is a rumor they had a box stolen before the new ceo came in to take control. Doesn’t look good for Alaska’s last great race . Pray for the new ceo to have wisdom.

  2. When the only food offered is red herrings that you are tired of eating, then it’s best to go hungry. Ditto for tangential and illogical comments. Ignore them.

    • You appear to know something the rest of the public does not . Please fill us in . Also what do you consider red herrings in this comment section. Perhaps you will be kind enough to enlighten us on what’s really going on .

  3. My only quibble with an otherwise solid piece of reporting is that it should be possible to stick up for Jim without using Braverman as a stepping stool to make the case; she did a pretty job in the 2018 Iditarod by all reports and was as qualified as half (or more) of the rookies to enter and run on any given year for as long as I can remember. Heck, even getting it together to fly a team up to run the Kobuk 440 is a bigger deal than most rookies ever attempt in their qualifiers.

    I actually sat on that board for three years, but I’m not going to carry any tales:)

    Having run the Beargrease 3x times, I’d say that it’s a tough race for the dogs and musher to compete in, but probably not that much of an Iditarod qualifier in terms of relatable experiences with outdoor survival and unassisted checkpoints.

    • I didn’t take the example of Braverman as a stepping stool at all, but as a litmus test for acceptance to the race. There were a handful of other examples that could have been made and many would gripe about the reasons, just for an excuse to gripe. I didn’t read it as the point being to single an individual person out so much as it was to compare resumes, and the resume of the least experienced mushers versus a very experienced musher shows the contradiction clear as day.

      Honestly to make this about an individual mushers misses the entire point of the article.

      • Perhaps you are correct, I’ll have to give it a re-read. But why make the comparison at all unless it was in a negative context? “They only let Braverman in because she could off them some good press!” That ignores the fact that she did indeed jump through all the qualifying hurdles the same as all true rookies and acts as if she’s only allowed to participate in the Iditarod because of her Twitter following and positive news coverage. As far as I’m concerned, those are just perks.

      • Jason I take your point about nascar . It’s not Iditarod. Though let’s say jim did qualify for nascar in their rigorous trials,would they let him in even though he was old? Can you imagine the publicity if he ended up beating a few cars ? Bet they would even if he had wrecked on the wall a few times . Now a couple questions for you as you clearly have more experience with mushing and outdoor life than anyone on the panel. ( you also competed your experience by being a panel member) if you got in a plane for a flight to checkpoint Rohan With a very old pilot that had landed ther for 49 years and a pilot that had just received his pilot license in the Mail – who would you want to fly that plane ? Also let’s say you had an old veteran leader sled dog who might only make it to elim but he had been to nome 6 Times and we’re leaving the start line also you have a yearling who’s never been to even the start line – who would you take . Then answer me why Iditarod would hold back a proven veteran of Iditarod who is an icon ? Should they have that right to race if he has competed all qualifications? His only difference is age . Doesn’t look good does it ?

      • Your point is well regarding experience, Opinion, and I pretty much agree with your sentiments both spoken and un-spoken. As far as the ITC’s decision to bar Jim goes, I simply do not have enough information to make an informed comment. My suspicion is that they would have been better off letting him run regardless of his age or outcome of last few races, and I’d best never hear that there is any truth to the speculation that this was a politically motivated hit job. I say that as a guy who stands diametrically opposed to Jim’s political stance re: the Governor of AK: politics should have no bearing on the competition.

      • Jason, thanks for helping clear the smoke . I agree they would have been better off letting him run as that’s the spirit of the race and Jim’s statistics support being allowed to run . As to the politics involved i also don’t think that’s an issue. As per article it appears the only difference between jim and all other mushers is age . He’s as competitive and competent statistically as 1/3 of the field . Now what could be very likely to be an issue effecting one or maybe two panel votes is what another commentor mentioned below in this thread that I investigated is Anna Jim’s wife got in a Facebook spat with panel member Karen ramstead. Be interesting to know how she voted . Anna said it wasn’t right for ITc / Mark Nordman to fire 40 year ITc employee Joanne Potts without presenting adequate reason for doing so. That’s my understanding per internet and Facebook. Could that effect the outcome of this panels vote as Karen and mark are on same team ? How did that effect marks vote ? That’s aprx 50% of panel members. It’s very possible and indicates the panels decision should be thrown out as it’s tainted by internal politics. Personal grudges are much more likely than Dunleavy politics. But who knows ? At any rate Jim is qualified. He should run . Especially if he got sidelined due to age or internal political grudges. Fair is fair – right ?

      • Is Karen really sitting on that board? I thought that was a joke. No way shape or form is she qualified to sit in judgment of anybody, much less someone with Jim’s record and experience.

        Yeah, Facebook is cancer; almost nothing good ever comes of it.

      • Jason I totally agree about facecrook . As to Karen I will trust your word . The stats and math support your statement. The real question is why was she selected? Whoever did that needs fired and the panel needs remade or banished. It’s an invitation for corruption and politics/ power plays .

    • You appear experienced and knowledgeable. Please fill us in on what and why a qualifying review board is needed beyond just a technical qualifier . Does nascar , Kentucky derby or other pro sports have review boards that kick out old people? Your experience is of high magnitude. What would qualify a musher to race Iditarod?

      • In case it was directed at me: my own time on the qrb was when it was first formed and I eventually came to see it as a kind of bureaucratic “rubber stamp” designed, similar to the human drug testing program also developed at the same time, to insulate the ITC from criticism in the press/social media and nothing more. I eventually moved to distance myself from it.

        As to the NASCAR/Kentucky Derby comparison: you simply cannot compare them to the Iditarod, especially NASCAR. Can you even picture them letting someone of Jim’s ability relative to the top talent in the sport on the track in the first place, even before he became old enough that driving at those speeds would be an impossibility? Only top professionals in a competitive sense are allowed in. The Iditarod is unique in the sense that historically speaking the bar for entry is set at ridiculously low levels by competitive standards; almost anyone with a pulse could get in. Not making a dig at Jim, a man I’ve known since I was a little boy and know to take good care of his dogs and in the past to have competently gotten his team from one end of the course to the other, just pointing out the flaw in the Nascar comparison which has a pretty brutal bar for entry.

  4. Ramstead should have been disqualified for being grossly overweight. No one that huge could have taken good care of her dogs.

  5. Craig,

    I agree. Braverman is a superb writer on and off social media. She was also a perfectly qualified Iditarod rookie, nothing marginal about it. I do not know why the Iditarod disqualified Lanier, but it has nothing to do with Braverman. There’s no need to cite her at all in your article.

    Opinion,

    Yes, Lanier completed the Quest. That’s great! It really is an incredible achievement at any age. As I said, I don’t know why the Iditarod disqualified him. I’d be interested to know why. Unfortunately, Craig’s article does nothing to shed light on the matter.

    • Jim: You’re obviously a fan. I’m not. I’m a journalist.

      Braverman is a good writer, but a long way from “superb” in any objective assessment. It is possible she might develop into such, but only time will tell.

      She was a perfectly qualified Iditarod competitor, but that’s the bottom line – not the topline. Someone who has never seen the course on which she is going to race, never done 1,000 miles and etc. is “marginally qualified.”

      She is now far more qualified having made it up the trail once as is Lanier who has done that multiple times.

      And she was included in the story to shed light on one simple fact: Public profile matters.

      There is no way Iditarod would have done what it did with Lanier if he had a small army of Twitter followers. They let the writer Gary Paulsen run again in 2006 though he was ill prepared to go to Nome. He got as far as Skwentna where he mysteriously scratched. It was all about the publicity.

      And it worked. Iditarod got some positive attention in the New York Times:

      “Mr. Paulsen also keeps a 40-acre spread north of Willow, Alaska, where he breeds and trains dogs for the Iditarod (which he ran for the third time last March). ‘From the northwest corner of my land, there’s nothing for 4,000 miles,’ he says, his voice quickening with excitement. “There’re no towns, no roads, no people all the way to Siberia.’ And few of the provocations of modern society that make him ‘brew up.'”

      The man, the wilderness, the life, ah yes…..

      • To be honest, I wasn’t a fan. Until now. The more I read about her, the more impressive she sounds.

        You are no journalist. You misrepresented and withheld facts to make Braverman appear unqualified. You characterized her as “marginally qualified,” yet she was 100% perfectly qualified as a rookie. She ran all the qualifiers that were required. She followed all the rules. You wrote that “Braverman’s idea of an Iditarod qualifying race was the 300-mile John Beargrease…” as if her idea was an outlandish one. In fact, it is the also the Iditarod’s idea of a qualifier.

        Putting down a promising newcomer like Braverman does nothing to advance your argument for Lainer — and makes YOU seem ageist and sexist.

    • Jimbocp, medreds article does shed light right from the beginning- the heading, ageism. He’s the oldest musher being removed with no viable explanation. No one else is being removed this year . Per medreds article there have been no solid reasons .Other mushers have had worse occurrences. Jeff king walked off and left his team !!! They let him back in . Medreds article clearly outlines Laniers qualifications versus other folks lack of proven qualifications. Almost all rookies are unproven untill they cross the Iditarod finish line . Are you completely dense ? Or did you neglect to read his article? Hopefully you didn’t read his article as that’s a better excuse for being able to still be in the dark .

  6. Thank Opinion. I say God Bless Lanier.. So he may have pissed some people off. Too bad! At 78 he has earned that right (in this context). So, he supports a recall? Too bad!! He should be commended not only for having a FB page at 78, but also for wanting to still compete. How many young people wouldnt be caught dead on that trail? That was my point about my mom. She still has the drive of an old school twenty-something. I say let him race. To hell with the rest.

  7. I looked up panelist Ramstead Iditarod stats . Doesn’t even compare to Jim’s 40 decades of trail experience. I looked up Mark Nordman stats in Iditarod. Very unimpressive. 4 mediocre finishes in 80s . Doesn’t compare to Jim . Can’t Iditarod come up with more qualified people as race marshal and judges ? So if I remember correctly Mark Nordman is often involved with Iditarod drama . He unethically shielded Dallas Seavey from Doping positives . According to papers of the Time and Dallas ‘s video release Nordman said the positive tests would go away or something similar. Told Dallas not to worry about it ? That’s hugely unethical. Why does Iditarod Alow Mark Nordman to be associated with Iditarod if he is always surrounded by drama and questionable decisions. By the way ,why does Iditarod sheild dopers ? Perhaps it’s Time this race went the way of Norman Vaughn. Jim is better off without this corrupt event .

  8. Maybe it’s because Jim recently posted a harsh critique of the ITC on his Facebook page over the firing of Joanne Potts (a fellow aging member of the Iditarod community) in addition to supporting the recall Dunleavy campaign. He obviously is not complying with the Iditarod’s gag rule…race participants pay a lot of money to sign away their 1st ammendment rights. Too bad they don’t ban the likes of “dog beating, puppy drowning, dogs on the chain till they’re shot in the brain” Mitch Seavey…meet the new board, same as the old board.

    • Sounds about right from what we are seeing. Iditarod treats old folks like old horses . Not nice . Who in their right mind would support that ? Maybe the old board wasn’t the only problem. Maybe it was someone running the show . Perhaps the state should look deeper into Iditarod structure. It’s a non profit right ? Huge amounts go to the organization. Well mushers don’t win much by what I see . Not even enough to pretend to break even. So where does the money go? Who is profiting? Someone should look .

      • Here’s an excerpt about qualifying from the Iditarod website, “You are required to run two (2) approved 300 mile or more qualifying races and one (1) 150 mile or more approved qualifying race, total of 3 races.”

        Braverman completed the Kobuk 440 and the Canadian Challenge as her two 300+ mile qualifiers. Braverman completed the Beargrease middle distance race (150 miles) in 2016. This represents her 150+ qualifier. As noted, Braverman did not complete the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in 2018, but so what? She fully qualified for the Iditarod via other races.

        (FWIW, Braverman made it about three-quarters of the way through the 373-mile Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.)

        Craig, I know you used to consider yourself a journalist. If that is still the case, please use facts when making your arguments. There is no need to diminish the achievements of a newcomer to support another musher.

      • yes, and those 373 miles were the closet thing she had to an Iditarod experience, and the they are not very close. the Kobuk is a comfortably warm spring race in the sun. the Canadian Challenge is run partly on the roads.

        would you have preferred i use one of those as an example. she qualified for Iditarod. the qualifications are a minimum. she’s a marginally qualified Iditarod competitor compared to others in the field.

        but this is nonsense discussion given that the issue isn’t really about her average skill as a musher but her superb skill at social media. that’s why she’s in the story. did you miss that?

      • Jim s . I believe the point was Lanier finished the Yukon quest . The only race that really should be considered a qualifier . The others are a joke in comparison . Not to mention Lanier finished 40 years of Iditarods and other races . Appears Lanier also Finished 2019 copper basin . I’m told that’s like a mini Iditarod. Why does Iditarod even use those short races as qualifiers? What a farce . Nice personal attack you threw at Craig. Personally I’m glad Craig doesn’t fit in with the factless wanna be journalist crowd. At least Craig works hard to keep Alaskans informed.

      • I have worked the past 5 beargrease races to include the the year Braverman ran. and the last 2 iditarods so yeah clueless

      • please enlighten me how living “stateside” would make someone clueless? I disagree with the decision but making false statements about another musher or another race does nothing to advance your argument.

      • Kirk – Craig best clarify for himself so it’s easy to understand. I will give a couple hints best I can . Clueless is similar to a placeholder when it refers to full Alaskan experience knowledge and history. Because there are so many valuable differences compared to stateside. Clueless is not an insult by any Means it is just lack of clarity to the subject. Think crockidile Dundee in New York as extreme example. For my own example I am effectively clueless as to dangers or hardships to dealing with “outside” life . I barely have a base of knowledge to start from and understand what a lower 48 takes for granted. I’m sure there are many hardships that would surprise me , different culture, laws , weather , 8 driving lanes ect . Things like how best to avoid getting bit by spiders or snakes . I’ve been outside over many years but I’m still relatively clueless/ green and might not understand what a lower 48 person was talking about as to survival under their day to day life . Not that your information wasn’t important but that it didn’t seem fully applicable to the specific subject. By the way I’m a huge fan of braverman and the beargrease . I respect braverman more than any top ten musher because she is so courageous to do something that’s not second nature. Amazing story and woman she is . I especially admire the beargrease for what it used to be . So I’m told it was tough beyond compare due to it’s broken terrain and early season start and rain or random storms. I bet most Alaskan mushers would get their butts kicked down there .

  9. Having followed the race since the very first one; having seen its highs and lows….I have to agree that the once great race has aged out and should be brought to a graceful end before it disgraces itself further.

  10. Stabbing an old man in the back without verifiable proof is pretty despicable. This action is an insult to all people not just old ones . Every one is on their way over the hill . Just a mater of time . Iditarod panel just stepped on hope and dreams . Research and Sign the petition to reverse the panels decision ,Stand up against tyranny! Looks to me like those panelists are just throwing their weight around. If Jim is qualified then let him follow his dreams and inspire all people. Young and old . Our nation and state needs people like Jim especially in this era . America needs positive inspiration! Let freedom ring !

    • Amen Opinion. My mom has been an athlete her entire life. She is 86yo. Was hit by a drunk driver 3yrs ago and has never really recovered. Back East, I took her out to play golf for the first time in years. The Pro Shop even gave her a free play and said “we are just glad to see you out here”. They didnt know us and I havent played in years either. Well, we were out on the course when 2 carts of younger guys come up behind us with a nasty look on their face. I could tell they were hip with their fancy clubs and didnt want to be stuck behind us old people. I said gentlemen, would you guys like to play through? Of cpurse they said yes. I said in a curious, yet smartass tone, have any of you ever gotten a hole-in-one? Nobody said a word. I pointed to my mom, the crumpled 86yo lady, and said, she has. We got a good chuckle oit of it. Funny thing is I just read this today. Perfect for the younger generation where everybody is a winner. Just remember, eveey dog has its day.
      https://japantoday.com/category/tech/nissan-develops-golf-ball-that-automatically-finds-the-hole-every-time

      • Thanks Bryan ! And kudos to you for involving your mom in the sport of golf ! Cherish every minute.

  11. About says it all doesnt it? As I mentioned, 8hrs is the next goal. Silly.
    “On a trail that good 20 years later, a musher has to run under 9 hours to win”

  12. Iditarods new slogan-(The lost great race ) Mark Nordman would approve . Term limits on officials and panelists appears appropriate. Mark and his crew sure knows how to step in it . Iditarod doesn’t have a Peta problem it has an official problem.

  13. Thanks for the more complete perspective. Too many people hammering away on this subject with opinions as if they are voting in an election.

  14. Honestly Craig…I know the “old guy thing” is a bit personal to you and your followers, but this ban is not about Jim’s age.
    APRN reported that Jim “scratched” from the last 4 Iditarod races that he entered????
    The last “scratch” required the assistance of a fellow musher (a couple fat tire bikers) and the ITC’s crew of snowmachines and sleds to get his dog team to safety.
    Obviously with PETA “chewing their ass” the last thing this dying race wants is for a musher or his dog’s to die on the trail.
    Good on them!
    Jim has plenty of money and free time to run his dogs to Nome all winter long since the “trail” is open from December through April…
    Maybe he can call up Gary Paulson and they can embark on an old guy mission without fanfare and publicity?
    Traveling the trail without entourage and assistance is far more of a relaxing experience than racing from checkpoint to checkpoint in my opinion.

    • Steve: That would be great if it were true, but no one knows if it is true. And to my knowledge, Lanier has never had a dog die in Iditarod or abandoned a team to care for itself. That can’t be said of all others.

      • And what of my comment is not true?

        Did he NOT scratch the last 4 attempts at racing?
        Did his dogs and gear NOT require a rescue with snowmachines and sleds when he was stuck shivering with Jensen?
        Obviously this is a proactive approach before he does have a dog die on the trail.

        On a side note, I hear that Lanier was noted to be supporting the recall Governor Dunleavy campaign on his FB account…under the current political climate in Alaska that could be enough to get oneself banned from this government subsidized race.

      • Steve seems to be making a habit out of not reading or only partially reading things before commenting on them. I guess all the Google searching for links takes precedence.

      • I know Craig…
        Your “perception” Trumps my “perception”…
        Maybe U should include a disclaimer: only comments on my perception is allowed…
        BTW…Jim scratched his last 3 out of 4 attempts from Willow.
        The more I look at his FB page, the more I am certain it is all his “non loyalty” posts against Dunleavy and his strong support for the Recall effort that played a role in this event.
        There is also a photo of a dog (in the comments on his fb) that was in the movie “sleddogs” that is reportedly (Piper) a sleddog of Jim’s…which
        is shown “licking his rear end” as it is covered in blood?
        (This was a male dog who was not in “heat”)
        Lots of stuff goes under reported in AK.
        Enjoy the sunshine brother!

        https://m.facebook.com/NorthernWhites/?__tn__=%2As-R

      • Steve: it’s got nothing to do with perception. it has everything do with reading before commenting.

        you keep repeating that Lanier scratched in his three previous Iditarods as if the information is somehow lacking from the story. the information is clearly there. he scratched three times and then he got rescued.

        you keep insisting Iditarod tossed Lanier in the name of dog care, although if you read the story you’ll find out that’s not clear. the AP reported that, but there’s been no official statement from Irod.

        a couple of mushers who inquired Irod about this told me they were told this is a one-year deal and Lanier would be welcome back next year, which makes absolutely no sense. if he’s age compromised now, it will be better then?

      • Craig,
        It has everything to do with your experience (past friendships with mushers)…biases…paid journalism career in Alaska and many other factors that put you in the perception that you hold.

        Sorry, I admit that I missed you had the 3 out of 4 listed….I was over your piece when you decided to pave the “yellow brick road to Medredville” with the Braverman tale.

        Believe what you want.
        Prop up the dead horse as long as you can…
        The truth is after reading comments by opinion and others…I can see the light at the end of this dark tunnel of animal abuse in Alaska.

        Even mushers are over the ITC’s corrupt operation…Opinion wrote: “Jim is better off without this corrupt event”
        Write about that side of the coin.

        I did hear Jim was working on a chain free kennel.
        That is much more important for dog care that any stupid race.
        Every time that I watch my Alaskan Huskies run free in the hills, I know what makes dogs happy!

  15. Yet another reason to turn your back away from the slow car crash that is the Iditarod ‘race’. Perhaps after they lose all of their sponsors and racers they can return to being ‘The last great race’…
    Off to work, kids – Cheers!

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