It isn’t uncommon for a feat like skydiving to sit at the top of someone’s bucket list.
Nestled in with the landmark destinations, longstanding apologies and habits to break, inevitably there is some kind of grand adventure—one person’s perfect combination of excitement and danger; a chance to face a fear, and an opportunity to say ‘I did it.’
We all have one.
We iron out the details, travel around the world, and know exactly what we want.
But sometimes, in the midst of all our planning, a new opportunity finds us.
That’s how it went for OnTrac Software Support Manager Danielle Couch who, on a visit to Alaska in 2005, got her first taste of the historic Iditarod.
“I was hooked right away,” she said. “Then I learned fans could be a rider on a sled for the ceremonial start. After following the race over the years I knew I really wanted to take part in the ceremonial start. I told my sister I would do it by my fortieth birthday.”
What had begun as a vacation with her husband to Denali National Park in 2005 turned into a mission to be a part of something bigger, and seven years later, Danielle returned to Alaska—this time, to be a passenger in the Iditarod.
The Iditarod, a reconstruction of the freight route to Nome, commemorates the heroic part sled dogs played not only in the settlement of Alaska, but the 1925 Great Race of Mercy.
Upon her arrival, Danielle and her sister were required to attend a pre- Idit-a-rider instructional meeting, where the main instruction was to “Tuck and Roll.”
“There is a 45-degree turn off the 4th Street corner,” she said. “Sleds have overturned here. As instructed, I had my arms crossed over my chest and held my hands close to my neck, just in case the sled took a turn for the worst.”
Danielle’s veteran musher, Matt Giblin, took the corner fine.
“After I felt I was no longer in danger, I sat back and enjoyed the ride,” she said. “I was amazed to see fans lined along the entire 11.6 mile course. They were waving and yelling out to the musher, ‘good luck’ and ‘get to Nome safely.’”
Giblin made it to Nome on March 16, finishing the race in 11 days 20 hours and 49 minutes.