Mike passed a serious milestone today at around 1pm Alaska Daylight time. The town of Unalakleet marks the furthest point he has reached on any of his self-supported iditarod trips. 800 miles in and on day 18, this has been an incredible trip thus far.
You have to know that his thoughts were focused on the demoralized state he was in when he called it quits.
He wrote in 2008,
Standing on that teeny little rise, looking across the drifted slab of ice at Unk, I confess to feeling little other than relief. It was finally, blessedly over. Less than a mile to walk until I could lean the bike against a structure, any structure, then walk inside to feel genuine heat. And minutes after that I'd be eating food. Glorious, hot, real food in any quantity I desired.
Weeks ago I'd guarded against this temptation with the simple knowledge that to step inside of any building, to take any sort of outside support at all would be a failure of the objective, followed by the need to start all over a year later. Looking back at the failure of the tent poles, the contaminated stove fuel, the poor assumptions on food quantity and type, the disintegrating tires and lately the seized bottom bracket made it clear that I needed to come back regardless. Too many mistakes. Too much unfinished.
It's now looking likely that there will be no unfinished business this year. He's obviously corrected many, if not all, of the mistakes of the previous years. Things are going very well.
Still, the first paragraph of the quote above gives a good glimpse into what his mental state must be right now. The yearning for warm places and hot food. For shelter and safety. I can only imagine how strong that pull is.
There's no speculation involved in the satisfaction he must feel in reaching Unalakleet ready for more. His SPOT points indicate he didn't even slow down and give so much as a longing glance at the buildings there. He is now some 30 miles north of Unalakleet and still ticking off the miles under good conditions.
If he maintains this pace he will finish in under 22 days, well under the food/fuel margin.