'You're never too old,' says 78-year-old musher after finishing Yukon Quest
Jim Lanier ran the gruelling 1,600-km race for the 1st time this month
Jim Lanier says the Yukon Quest sled dog race was "everything it was cracked up to be — in a word, tough."
The 78-year-old Alaska musher crossed the race finish line in Fairbanks, Alaska on Thursday, after 13 days on the gruelling, 1,600-kilometre backwoods trail through Yukon and Alaska. He finished 24th out of 27 mushers who completed the race this year.
He was considered a "rookie" in the race, because he'd never run the Quest before. But Lanier is no rookie to the sport — he's been mushing for 40 years, and has run in 20 Iditarods.
"My wife, after last year's Iditarod — which ended up with me being lost in a big windstorm — she said, 'That's enough, no more Iditarod for you,'" Lanier said.
"Of course, she didn't say I couldn't do any more [Yukon] Quests."
Many mushers have said the Yukon Quest is more challenging than the Iditarod. Lanier simply says each race is different, though he especially appreciated the Yukon Quest's checkpoints.
"The hospitality at the stops is wonderful. People go out of their way to make you feel welcome, make you feel comfortable. They fix you terrific food, and send you on your way a rejuvenated man," he said.
'I really hope it inspires people'
When asked where he finds the energy to race at his age, he struggled for an answer.
"That's a good question ... I don't eat Wheaties for breakfast," he said.
"I'm energetic because each day I get to live to see another one, and get to do all these wonderful things — like mushing the Yukon Quest."
He said he's been called an inspiration, and he doesn't mind that a bit.
"I really hope it inspires people to do likewise, and to realize that you're never too old. You're never too old to do this, and many other things — and people need to know that," he said.
"Go for it, all you old geezers out there!"
With files from George Maratos