Finishing Iditarod was ‘incredible’ for local musher

Jan Steves was the last musher to finish this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Steves, who lives in Edmonds, arrived in Nome on Monday morning. Iditarod officials said she finished the race at 2:57 a.m. with a team of nine dogs.

“The overall experience was amazing,” Steves said. “This is more of an accomplishment than I ever imagined. Just finishing is an incredible win.”

Steves, 55, was one of 66 mushers who left Willow, Alaska, on March 4 to compete in the nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She took 14 days, 11 hours and 57 minutes to cross to finish the race in Nome. Fifty-three mushers completed this year’s race.

The Iditarod race was a first for Steves, who qualified for the event in February 2011 in the 768-mile Norman Vaughan ‘25 Serum Run from Nenana to Nome.

Rick Steves, a travel television host and publisher, said he talked to his sister Monday afternoon and was happy she had arrived safely in Nome.

“She was exhilarated to get in,” he said. “I saw a photograph of her at the finish line. She’s in one piece and thankful to be done.”

Twenty-five-year-old Dallas Seavey of Willow won this year’s race. For coming in last, Steves received the Red Lantern award.

Steves said her team was trying to make the Iditarod Official Finishers Banquet on Sunday but encountered ground blizzards on the way into Nome.

“That was quite an experience,” she said. “We basically had a long haul.”

She and fellow musher and training partner Bob Chlupach of Willow, who completed the race two minutes ahead of Steves, didn’t finish in time for the banquet. Steves on Monday was busily looking after her dogs and preparing to be recognized with the Red Lantern award in the Nome Mini Convention Center. She felt good after sleeping for 4½ hours.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world after averaging an hour and a half to three hours of sleep a night,” she said.

Steves reported her progress by phone and email when she was able during the race at livingmydream2.blogspot.com. She isn’t sure when she’ll return to Edmonds. Her team is planning to fly out of Nome and back to Willow on Wednesday afternoon.

Supporters plan to celebrate Steves’ accomplishment when she is back in Edmonds, Rick Steves said.

“We’re going to throw a big party for her here,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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