ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Veteran musher Nicolas Petit, who was leading the Iditarod race for many checkpoints, sat down for an emotional interview with the Iditarod Insider this weekend explaining what happened this year.
Petit cried several times when talking about what his dogs went through shortly after leaving the Shaktoolik checkpoint.
Petit's team stalled on the ice shortly after leaving the checkpoint, and eventually the musher was able to get the team to a cabin, called Shelter Island Cabin, where they took refuge for hours before he was able to contact race officials to register his intent to scratch. He and his team were transported by snowmachine back to Shaktoolik.
"We're done with the problems, we are not out here to make them do anything -- not out here to push them to do anything -- we're out here to have a good time with them," said Petit during the interview with the Iditarod Insider.
Petit says no one would've believed that his team was tired if they saw them in Shaktoolik.
"This dog team was not tired, this dog team was not overexerted, this dog team was flying towards a place, where the worst run of their lives began last year. We had a very, very tough run last year, we had to find our way through something that we're not expecting," he said.
It's the same stretch of trail where Petit faced misfortune last year, going off trail and losing time, and the race lead.
"I can't blame them for not wanting to go back where their last experience was the toughest run of their lives, toughest for me too. I was bawling, I wasn't upset at them at all, I was so sorry for them that I wasn't able to keep them on the right path, so that they could come in here first and show what they are made of," Petit said in the interview.
He says at that point he had to make a tough decision.
"Do you give them another toughest run of their lives, or do you go home? We go home and then we're going to fix it."
Petit said he's not going to get rid of his dogs. He told the Iditarod Insider that he plans to take his dogs out to the Bering Sea to show them that there is nothing to be afraid of.
"They don't know that it can be fun to be on the ice, whether there is a race organized or not , my dog team and I will fly out to Unalakleet or someplace close to there, running through there with steaks and T- bones, going to have a good time, going back and forth. Why stop there? Golovin can be a tough place too, we are going to lollygag all the way to White Mountain and back, we're going to show them that this is our new backyard, and there is nothing to be scared of, and everything is fine," Petit said.