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Ramey Smyth: dogs are “really good,” despite “massive mistake”

Ramey Smyth finishes Iditarod 2011

With characteristic energy, Ramey Smyth leads his team through the last few feet of Iditarod 2011 at the Nome finish line. Photo by David Dodman.

In the Takotna checkpoint Wednesday afternoon, longtime race veteran Ramey Smyth said his “dogs are doing really good,” although to this statement, he made a few important qualifications: he had made a dog drop earlier in the race that he regretted, and his lead dog was suffering from a sore arm. Plus, his dogs hadn’t eaten as well as he’d wanted.

Taking the mandatory 24-hour layover in Takotna, Smyth told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen, was a chance to regroup and recuperate – for his dog team, in particular.

About that dropped dog: Smyth termed his dog drop (in the Skwentna checkpoint) a “massive mistake.” In Smyth’s view, the dog drop was precipitated by an inexperienced race veterinarian who mis-diagnosed a rapid heartbeat for the sled dog.

If that “mistake” hadn’t happened, Smyth told Laureli, he would likely still have the dog on his team, helping to pull his sled (in good health) towards Nome:


As of Wednesday night, Ramey Smyth is in 27th position. He arrived into Takotna at 4:37am with 13 dogs and will be eligible to depart at the end of his 24-hour layover, which, factoring in his starting differential (from Willow on Sunday afternoon), will be at 5:35am Thursday.