PROMO People - Slim Randles

Home Country – A very long way to Nome

Slim Randles
Slim Randles

This Saturday morning, an old man here in New Mexico will act just a bit silly again as he has these past 50-odd years on the first Saturday in March.

I admit to being the silly old man in this case. So what will I do on Saturday?  I’ll open my closet and carefully take down my handmade gold parka that makes me look like a walking bunch of pillows stuffed in a down sleeping bag. Then I’ll walk around and remember seven sled dogs who shared a famous trail with me those many long years ago. They certainly weren’t the best sled dogs in that first Iditarod Dogsled Race from Anchorage to Nome, but they were the best I had. Well, six of them were. I had to borrow a dog to make a team of seven, which was the minimum-sized team that first year.

I didn’t win any of that prize money. In fact, I didn’t make it to Nome. I went about 350 miles and crushed an ankle under the sled runner and a couple of kids who didn’t appear to be old enough to shave flew me and the team to a hospital in Anchorage in a helicopter. The wonderful lady who made that parka for me and ran race headquarters and was my wife at that time was named Pam. She died on Christmas Eve.

For the next five years, I served as a race official. And, after that first year, the minimum-sized team was expanded to nine dogs. I was the only fool, ever, to start that race with only seven dogs.

Here, let me bow and introduce myself … Seven-Dog Slim at your service.

I won’t be out on that trail this year because it’s warmer here in my New Mexico home with the furnace working properly. But part of me will be there when those teams leave Anchorage Saturday morning. Part of me will always be there. Wishing brave dog mushers well doesn’t get old, even if we do. Be careful, guys and gals, and have a safe and wonderful race. It’s a very long way to Nome.

Best wishes from Seven-Dog Slim.

Brought to you by the Anchorage animal shelter, who kept me in good, workable, loving dogs back in the 70s. Thank you.