Mushers abuse dogs during Iditarod

Mushers in la-la land

A musher's hallucinations come when they're awake and appear to be completely real. While a musher enjoyed the orchestra he was hallucinating, who was watching or taking care of the dogs?

Hallucinations come when mushers are awake and appear completely real to them. While a musher enjoys the orchestra he hallucinated, who watches or takes care of his dogs? Photo attributed to foilman on flickr

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Iditarod mushers hallucinate

Mushers hallucinate:

“[DeeDee] Jonrowe has had 3 1/2 hours of sleep since the race started on Sunday — was causing her to have audio hallucinations. She keeps hearing someone coming up behind her on the trail and calling out her name.”

– Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 11, 2009

“She [Anna Bondarenko] said she was perfectly fine, that she was in a movie, that she would push the fast-forward button and be transported, effortlessly and electronically, to the checkpoint.”

– Anna Bondarenko is Jim Lanier’s wife.
– Jim Lanier. Beyond Ophir: Confessions of an Iditarod Musher, An Alaskan Odyssey, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2013

“The Nenana musher has been suffering a severe head cold that robs him of sleep.”

“The Nenana musher has been hallucinating along the trail – likely because he’s sick, he said.

‘Every time I close my eyes,’ [Aaron] Burmeister said. ‘Trains were coming at me. The dogs were a bunch of cars. I thought I was going the wrong way.'”

– Kyle Hopkins, Iditarodblog, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2012

Over and over, musher hallucinates people playing golf.

Over and over, musher hallucinates people playing golf during Iditarod. Photo attributed to mtelesha on flickr.

“In 1976, Eagle River racer Jon Van Zyle (who has since become the Iditarod’s official artist) said: ‘I fell asleep, woke up, hallucinated, fell asleep, woke up – over and over and over again….In one stretch…I kept seeing park benches, people playing golf, people just lolling around enjoying the sunshine, and green grass.'”

– Sherwonit, Bill. Iditarod, Seattle: Alaska Northwest Books, 1991

“More than the dogs, [Emmitt] Peters says mushers have to watch out for hallucinations from their own lack of sleep.

‘All mushers do that,’ Peters said. ‘They just hate to say that, but I know — it runs through my experience.’

He remembers a time when he ran going from Shaktoolik to Koyuk, and he thought he was meeting up with a snowmachine.

‘So I turned my light on to see who was there, but there I am — talking to a chunk of ice,’ Peters said.”

– Emmitt Peters won the Iditarod in 1975
– Jason Lamb, KTUU-TV, KTUU.com, March 12, 2010

During the Iditarod, a musher hallucinates Roger Rabbit characters. Photo attributed to happysteve on flickr.

During the Iditarod, a musher hallucinates Roger Rabbit characters. Photo attributed to happysteve on flickr.

“I knew that we were running on the sea ice, but every time I glanced to my left or right, I perceived tall trees.”

– Buser, Martin. Dog Man, Durango: Raven’s Eye Press, 2015

“Fatigue can do funny things to long-distance mushers, [Lance] Mackey said. On Thursday night, he was riding the sled and saw a girl sitting by the side of the trail doing something, probably knitting.

‘She laughed at me, waved, and I went by her and she was gone,’ Mackey said of his hallucination.”

– Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 13, 2009

“I was exhausted and had already begun to hallucinate during the last hour of traveling, seeing the small people of the woods, hearing low-flying airplanes in the middle of the night.”

– Frederic, LIsa. Running with Champions, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 2006

“Trailworn, sleepless mushers often hallucinate, especially at night. They see wolves, dogs, people, lights, buildings.”

-Editorial staff, Anchorage Daily News, March 4, 2000

“Ghost dogs, freight trains and even phantom orchestras are among the bizarre images of the hallucinations that Iditarod mushers see because of sleep deprivation and fatigue.

Race leader Martin Buser Sunday was on the part of the trail where he has faced some of his strangest Iditarod moments. ‘I’ve seen villages, freight trains and cabins that were not there,’ Buser said before the race.”

– Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 16, 2002

“I am now incredibly tired and drift back into my on-again, off-again dance with reality. The next 12 miles or so are a confused jumble of images. At one point I’m flying for the race and watching myself down below. Then I’m driving a car along the wide, smooth road and am suprised when I turn the steering wheel and nothing happens.”

– Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

“And then I began to hallucinate. I saw people standing beside the trail, never anyone I recognized. They talked and laughed among themselves like they were waiting for my arrival at a nonexistent checkpoint. I turned and as the light of my headlamp swept over them they stopped talking and turned their heads to stare at me as we passed. Sometimes they were back from the trail and I only heard voices, catching snippets of conversations, never any intelligible words, but I assumed they were talking about me.”

“Then once again, it happened. I began hallucinating. This time it was not something as benign as people standing beside the trail. I saw animals-a rick pile became a bison, a stump became a moose.”

– Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

“I had uncontrollable sleep attacks. Going into Ophir one night, there was a big full moon. It was 40 below. I hadn’t slept since Nikolai. I was running with my headlamp off and listening to wild, spooky music on my tape deck. I was extremely tired. And then I began having feelings of anti-gravity. I felt if I let go of the handle-bars, I would just float up into the sky.”

– Macgill Adams, Iditarod musher
– Heacox, Kim. Iditarod Spirit, Portland: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company, 1991

“Some time later during the same run the hallucination took me to a different setting. I was home from school, about 7 years old, standing in my grandmother’s kitchen with my chin just about counter height, watching, smelling while Granny slathered a slice of homemade bread with bacon grease.”

– Warren, James and Warren, Christopher. Following My Father’s Dream, James and Christopher Warren, 2005

“When I got to Safety I found out I was 2 ½ hours behind the next closest team. I was just really, really tired and getting a little discouraged. I was hallucinating, too.”

– Brian O’Donaghue, Iditarod musher
– Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics: Tales of the Trail Told by the Men & Women Who Race Across Alaska, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

Iditarod mushers can't tell where the dream leaves off and the real begins. There's nothing to stop a musher from deciding to jump the passing freight train he hallucinated, leaving his dogs behind. Photo attributed to amtrak_russ on flickr

Iditarod mushers can’t tell where the dream leaves off and the real begins. There’s nothing to stop a musher from deciding to jump the passing freight train he hallucinated, thereby leaving his dogs behind. Photo attributed to amtrak_russ on flickr

“Emmitt Peters, 43, a cagey Indian driver known as the ‘Yukon River Fox, yanked a frozen beaver carcass from a burlap sack and began methodically hacking it into bite-size chunks for his team.

‘You know, I was mushing along out there and kept drifting in and out of sleep,’ [Emmitt] Peters said softly, pausing between strokes of the hatchet. ‘When I slept, I dreamed about mushing dogs. And then I’d wake up and be mushing dogs.

After a while, it got all jumbled together: dream dogs, real dogs. Dream race, real race. Until it got so I couldn’t tell the difference no more. Couldn’t tell where the dream left off and the real began,’ said the Yukon Fox. ‘I was just floating.'”

– Emmitt Peters won the Iditarod in 1975
– Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

“‘This time, I [Lance Mackey] saw a woman ahead of me. She was sitting beside the trail and not really doing anything except staring at me. The closer I got, the more real she was, and when I passed, she smiled. But when I turned around to wave good-bye, she was gone. I felt I was really awake and had no doubt she was there. It was such a strange experience that it rattled me.'”

– Helen Hegener is quoting Lance Mackey from his book, The Lance Mackey Story.
– Helen Hegener, Alaska Dispatch, March 12, 2010

“Hallucinations have taken many strange forms in the isolation of the Iditarod. Some mushers have ‘seen’ lights under the feet of the dogs. After many hours on the trail, others have imagined the dogs running up in the air.” “And one musher constantly found a strange man riding in his sled.”

– Dolan, Ellen. Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail, New York:Walker Publishing Co., 1993

“Sleep deprivation catches me and I start hallucinating.” “They come while you are awake, come with your eyes open and are completely real.” “I see my dogs all running in flame, their feet and lower legs on fire.” “The hallucinations do not go away. Indeed they get more complicated. Often I nearly get lost by going up rivers that aren’t there, following lights that do not exist.”

– Paulsen, Gary. Woodsong, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990

“You’re just kind of falling asleep and you watch these trees as you go by and you see shapes of goblins and people and things on the snow in the trees. It’s just amazing. You can call them hallucinations.”

– Bob Bundtzen, Chapter 16, Iditarod Adventures: Tales from Mushers Along the Trail
– Freedman, Lew. Iditarod Adventures: Tales from Mushers Along the Trail, Portland: Alaska Northwest Books, 2015

“The Iditarod is commonly called a sleep deprivation test for the humans who enter it and [Joe] Garnie had a classic hallucination mushing into Elim.

He was convinced a man was riding in his sled bag. First, he politely told the man he didn’t belong there and had to leave. When the man didn’t move, Garnie patted him on the shoulder and asked again. Finally, Garnie just swatted the guy.”

– Lew Freedeman, Anchorage Daily News, March 19, 1993

“My acute lack of sleep, aggravated by the increasing pain in my hands despite the naproxen, isn’t helping matters and I’m starting to hallucinate. At least once I stop the team and try to pull them onto the shoulder to let an imaginary truck by. Another time I find myself carrying on a conversation with someone walking alongside the sled; the dogs slow and stop wondering what strange commands I’m giving them.”

– Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

“Twice in past races, [John] Barron has experienced similar hallucinations, where his dog teams glowed eerily like the luminescent dial on a watch.”

– Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 1995

“Mushing on her merry way, weary a bleary-eyed [Peryll] Kyzer watched her top-notch Iditarod dogs turn into lobsters right before her eyes.

– Freedman, Lew. Iditarod Silver, Fairbanks: Epicenter Press, 1997

“The Big Lake, Alaska, musher [Lynda Plettner] was so sleep-deprived once that she saw a large gray African elephant in the distance trudging in the snow toward a metal building that had no doors or windows.”

– Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press, March 8, 2013

Sleepless Iditarod mushers often hallucinate on the trail. They frequently see buildings. Photo attributed to Jeffrey Zeldman on flickr.

Sleepless Iditarod mushers often hallucinate on the trail. They frequently see buildings. Photo attributed to Jeffrey Zeldman on flickr.

“When extreme fatigue sets in hallucinations are common. Zirkle sometimes watches Roger Rabbit characters suddenly appear beside the side of the trail. DeeDee Jonrowe says she starts ducking from branches that aren’t really there.”

– Annie Feidt, Alaska Public Radio Network, March 13, 2006, website

“’I think everybody probably hallucinates,’ [Celeste] Davis said. ‘It’s funny. You’re totally with it, but then I’m seeing daisies in a tree. And I’m thinking, ‘That took a lot of work. It’s really nice they hung daisies in the tree.’

There followed a tree trunk made of horseshoes.”

– Kim Briggeman, The Missoulian, April 24, 2010

“Not too far into the run after snacking the dogs, I started getting dizzy and trembly. It seemed like the trail was going on forever as I got weaker and weaker. It got so that all I could do was hang on the sled and watch the hallucinations. As I slipped in and out of consciousness, trees, shrubs and rocks became couches, quarterbacks, toasters and all kinds of things.”

– Chapoton, C. Mark. A Tale of Two Iditarods, Big Lake: CMC, 2008

“I had the sense that a pack of wolves was following me.”

– Mackey, Lance. The Lance Mackey Story, Fairbanks: Zorro Books, LLC, 2010

Many causes of hallucinations, including:

“Being drunk or high, or coming down from such drugs as marijuana, LSD, cocaine (including crack), PCP, amphetamines, heroin, ketamine, and alcohol

Delirium or dementia (visual hallucinations are most common)

Epilepsy that involves a part of the brain called the temporal lobe (odor hallucinations are most common)

Fever, especially in children and the elderly

Narcolepsy

Psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and psychotic depression

Sensory problem, such as blindness or deafness

Severe illness, including liver failure, kidney failure, AIDS, and brain cancer”

– Medline Plus, website article, March, 2013

“Beginning to hallucinate is among the more common symptoms of sleep deprivation. A hallucination is the perception of something that is not really present in the environment, as opposed to an illusion, which is the misinterpretation of something that is present. “

– Brandon Peters, M.D., About.com Guide

How are mushers like drunks?

Mushers who get five hours of sleep or less for even a few nights have the impaired reactions of people who are legally drunk. Photo attributed to aoln on flickr

Mushers who get five hours of sleep or less, even for a few nights, have the impaired reactions of people who are legally drunk. Photo attributed to aoln on flickr

Reactions of tired mushers are the same as people who are legally drunk:

“Eventually it [the need for sleep] takes over, impairing their judgement, forcing their eyes shut while riding the runners, and sometimes causing hallucinations.” “The situation can be hazardous.” “A person who gets five hours of sleep for just a few nights has the impaired reactions of someone who is legally drunk.”

– Anne Morris, medical director, Sleep Disorder Center, Providence Alaska Medical Center
– Staff and wire reports, Anchorage Daily News, March 6, 2000

Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to being legally drunk:

“This study shows that commonly experienced levels of sleep deprivation depressed performance to a level equivalent to that produced by alcohol intoxication of at least a BAC of 0.05%”

– Williamson A M, Feyer Anne-Marie, Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occup Environ Med 2000;57:649–655

Hard for sleep deprived mushers to judge how dogs are doing:

“It’s hard to be a good judge of how your dog team is doing when you are sleep deprived.”

– Pete Kaiser, Chapter 26, Iditarod Adventures: Tales from Mushers Along the Trail
– Freedman, Lew. Iditarod Adventures: Tales from Mushers Along the Trail, Portland: Alaska Northwest Books, 2015

Some mushers are sleep deprived at start of Iditarod:

“Bill Arpino: The night before the race I didn’t sleep. I think that was pretty common with most of the guys, you’re all keyed up and you can’t sleep.”

– Hegener, Helen. The First Iditarod – Mushers’ Tales From the 1973 Race. Wasilla: Northern Light Media, 2015

“I haven’t had more than three hours sleep a night since sometime last week. I’m already reacting like someone on the verge of sleep deprivation which isn’t a good sign so close to the race.” “Race day.” “If I wasn’t a zombie from lack of sleep, I’d certainly be wondering if I wasn’t finally in over my head.”

– Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

“Most first-time Iditarod dog drivers can find themselves weak and tired well before they reach the first checkpoint at Yentna. I couldn’t sleep for four or five days. Boy, I’ve been a nervous wreck,” said Carmen Perzechino of Sterling, Alaska.”

– Jon Little, Cabelas website, March 7, 2004
– Little is a former reporter with the Anchorage Daily News and was an Iditarod musher

“I could barely sleep at all the night before the race.”

– Freedman, Lew and Jonrowe, DeeDee. Iditarod Dreams, Seattle: Epicenter Press, 1995

“‘I [Patty Friend] just wanted to run the race and have fun doing it and do the best job I could. But even when we started we were exhausted, me and the dogs.'”

– Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“As the days counted down (to the start of the race), Sagoonick slept less and less. Four hours one night, three the next.”

-Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 4, 2001

“Race day.” “If I wasn’t a zombie from lack of sleep, I’d certainly be wondering if I wasn’t finally in over my head.”

– Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

Mushers are sleep deprived during the Iditarod:

“It’s what I call deep body ache, deep bone ache, the physical and mental fatigue that I don’t think most people can even comprehend. They say, ‘I’m tired. I haven’t slept in a day of two.’ But they’ve never been on the Iditarod Trail. They’ve never been bone tired where everything hurts, where everything is so disorganized in your biorhythms and your physical being and your mental being that parts and pieces start flying loose, like they were not even attached.”

– Martin Buser, Chapter 1, Iditarod Adventures: Tales from Mushers Along the Trail
– Freedman, Lew. Iditarod Adventures: Tales from Mushers Along the Trail, Portland: Alaska Northwest Books, 2015

“’Sleep deprivation is tough,’ says Mitch Seavey, a two-time winner of Alaska’s Iditarod…..” “It tests a whole different realm of endurance. You’re working in a half-delirious, half-dream state. You’re dehydrated. You see things that aren’t there. You realize you’re going to be depressed and pessimistic. You’re going to experience the lowest lows and the highest highs.'”

– Mike Beamish, Vancouver Sun, February 2, 2015

“True sleep deprivation comes on after a few days on the trail and cannot be combated by the typical remedies tried on your way home from the airport.”

– Buser, Martin. Dog Man, Durango: Raven’s Eye Press, 2015

“At this point, [Aliy] Zirkle is likely battling a severe case of sleep deprivation. All mushers do at some stage in the race. But consider this: Since leaving her 24-hour break in Takotna, Zirkle has traveled roughly 180 miles and has logged only 35 minutes of rest at a total of four checkpoints.”

– Kevin Klott and Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2013

“[Nathan] Schroeder completed the race at 9:44 a.m. local time. By noon he was preparing for a warm shower, then a nap.

‘I haven’t slept in forever,’ he said.”

– Brady Slater, Duluth News Tribune, March 19, 2015

“I was out with the team of dogs in nerve-wracking conditions that demanded common sense and good judgment and at the same time I was nearly delirious from exertion and lack of sleep.”

– Olesen, Dave. Cold Nights Fast Trails, Minocqua: NorthWord Press, Inc., 1989

“As I set up the tent, my head began to spin dizzily. I fought to keep from passing out in the snow. The lack of sleep – only twenty-seven hours in the previous eleven days – had caught up.”

– Perry, Rod. TrailBreakers – Pioneering Alaska’s Iditarod Vo. II. Chugiak: Rod Perry, 2010.

“He’s slept three hours since leaving Willow, he said, and struggled to remember which day he left Nikolai as he ate forkfuls of omelet and ketchup.”

– Hopkins is talking about Iditarod musher William Pinkham.
– Pinkham left Willow on March 7, 2010.
– Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News – The Sled Blog, March 10, 2010

“I kept a log once showing that in thirteen days of mushing, I slept nineteen hours.”

– Terry Adkins, Iditarod musher
– Freedman, Lew. Iditarod Classics: Tales of the Trail Told by the Men & Women Who Race Across Alaska, Seattle: Epicenter Press, 1992

“[Doug] Swingley said he figured that during a competitive race he got about 20 hours of sleep over a nine-day period.”

– Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 16, 2002

“Normally, she [DeeDee Jonrowe] averages three hours of sleep every 24 hours during the race.”

– Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, March 2, 2003

“He [Jeff King] said that since the start he’s only had four hours of sleep, and he’s feeling serious exhaustion.”

– Suzanna Caldwell, Alaska Dispatch News, March 5, 2014
– The Iditarod started on March 1, 2014.

“‘I have slept only six hours since the race began.'”

– Musher Robert Sorlie
– Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press, March 7, 2003
(The race restart was March 3, 2003)

“Sorlie, the 2003 winner, looked mighty weary, saying he hadn’t slept in two days.”

– Steve Wilstein, Associated Press, March 8, 2005

“DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow, fourth this year, said she probably slept only six or seven hours over the duration of her 9-day, 11-hour, 24-minute race.”

– Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 1995

“[Rick] Mackey, who had slept less than two hours in the past four days, swayed on his feet and blinked painfully into the lights.”

– Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

“Only then did [Eep] Anderson, who had had perhaps 12 hours’ sleep in the past six days and who was suffering from a cold verging on pneumonia, gobble a candy bar and stagger down to the ice-bound Iditarod River.”

– Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, March 15, 1983

“I get about 20 hours of sleep throughout the Iditarod.”

– Lance Mackey said this to Dennis Zaki during an interview.
Anchorage Daily News website video, March 6, 2011

“Trent Herbst sleeps about 5 hours in 5 days “By the time he [Trent Herbst] got to Iditarod he said he had only had about five hours of sleep.”

(From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: According to the Iditarod’s website Herbst left Anchorage at 10:04:00 on March 5, 2011 and arrived at the Iditarod checkpoint at 5:29:00 on March 10, 2011)

– Jill Burke, Alaska Dispatch, March 11, 2011

“As he talked, someone wished [Ramey] Smyth a happy birthday.

When was it?

‘Today I guess,’ Smyth said.

It’s hard to think straight when you’ve slept roughly five hours in six days.”

– Kyle Hopkins and Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 2011

“I just want to watch Jeff ramble on and not make any sense,’ said [Martin] Buser [watching Jeff King’s victory on television], well aware of the fogginess of sleep deprivation after nine days on the trail with little rest.”

– Craig Medred and Doug O’Harra, Anchorage Daily News, March 18, 1998

Out-of-body experiences

“The 1992 Iditarod”:

“On the top of the Blueberry Hills – halfway to Shaktoolik – I parked off the trail to give my friends a snack and ended up having an out-of-body experience. I saw myself stop the dogs, slowly open the sled bag, leisurely search for the snacks, then walk over to each dog and pet them as they gobbled down their meal.”

“The 2014 Iditarod”:

“From my now several days long out-of-body experience, I marveled at how little space twelve sled dogs, the sled and musher could occupy when everyone wanted to stay out of the wind.”

– Buser, Martin. Dog Man, Durango: Raven’s Eye Press, 2015

Hazards facing sleep deprived mushers

What are the effects of sleep deprivation?

From Susan E. Conner, Ph.D., Caltech, Assistant Director, Counseling Center:

  • Mood shifts, including depression, increased irritability
  • Stress, anxiety and loss of sense of humor
  • Reduced immunity to disease and viral infection
  • Impaired memory functioning
  • Reduced ability to handle complex tasks
  • Reduced ability to think logically, critically
  • Reduced ability to analyze new information
  • Reduced decision-making skills and vocabulary
  • Reduced motor skills and coordination—more likely to have an accident
  • In more severe cases of sleep deprivation, individuals may become disoriented, hallucinate or become psychotic.

– Caltech website, 2002

Mushers are zoned out in la-la land:

“’Sleep deprivation is tough,” says Mitch Seavey, a two-time winner of Alaska’s Iditarod….” “’It tests a whole different realm of endurance. You’re working in a half-delirious, half-dream state. You’re dehydrated. You see things that aren’t there. You realize you’re going to be depressed and pessimistic. You’re going to experience the lowest lows and the highest highs.'”

– Mike Beamish, Vancouver Sun, February 2, 2015

Exhausted Iditarod musher slurred his words, dragged his feet and couldn't read the numbers on the microwave.

Exhausted Iditarod musher slurred his words, dragged his feet and couldn’t read the numbers on the microwave.

“If you want to win the Iditarod you have to push yourself right up to the line of delirium, and then step over it.”

– Buser, Martin. Dog Man, Durango: Raven’s Eye Press, 2015

Lack of sleep makes it difficult to do even mundane acts:

“A lack of sleep makes it difficult to carry out even mundane acts, such as conversing intelligibly or calculating a waiter’s tip.”

– B. Bower, Science News, February 12, 2000

“Sleepy Iditarod mushers stumbled around the White Mountain checkpoint Tuesday afternoon, making preparations for the final push to Nome.”

“And then there was Jeff King. He slurred his words and dragged his feet, asking for help to read the numbers on the microwave when he warmed his vacuum-sealed lasagna.”

Alaska Dispatch, March 12, 2013

After day seven, it’s hard to make a rational decision:

“By day seven, your body is run down from sleep deprivation. You can’t hardly make a rational decision.”

– Musher Ed Iten talking about his Iditarod experience
– Hannah Guillaume, The Northern Light, March 7, 2006

Drastic mood swings

From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: When mushers are having drastic mood swings, do they pay any attention to their dogs?

“Everyone says that you will experience drastic mood swings during the Iditarod, from horrible, dark depression, to elation and joy.”

– Karin Hendrickson, Iditarod blog, 2009

Self-identity crisis

“At one point, he [Joe Redington] said, ‘I’m so stressed out, I don’t know who I am.'”

– Freedman, Lew. Father of the Iditarod: The Joe Redington Story, Fairbanks: Epicenter Press, 1999