In Cripple on Thursday morning, Nome-raised Aaron Burmeister was determined to see the finish line in the 2014 race, despite an Iditarod run that’s tested him both physically and emotionally.
It was “probably the toughest run of my life” pulling into Cripple, Burmeister says. There have been a lot of superlative descriptions of the trail’s difficulty in the 2014 Iditarod, but Burmeister’s carries special weight; a run over rough trail, earlier this week, caused an accident that injured the musher’s knee.
In Cripple, with Laureli Kinneen, Burmeister confirmed: his knee is torn in three tendons – his ACL, MCL, and meniscus.
Nome’s hometown favorite, however, was determined to continue on, even as he acknowledged that his activities both on and off the trail – whether mushing or caring for his dogs in a checkpoint – were taking him longer with only one fully-functional leg.
Despite the challenges he’s facing mushing his team, Burmeister made it first to the Cripple checkpoint, thus winning the Dorothy Page Halfway Award: a special trophy and $3,000 in gold nuggets.
What’s buoying Burmeister most, however, seems not to be the halfway award, which he says he was “shocked” to win, but rather the support and motivation he feels both from his family and from his dogs themselves, who seem to be sensing and responding to his injury as they mush down the trail.
His dogs, Burmeister says, are “phenomenal” and “making up for my weaknesses.”