We love to talk about women in racing. Janet Guthrie qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in the late 1970's. Legendary driver Shirley Muldowney in drag racing from the 1970's on. Lyn Saint James-- arguably the best of the female open-wheel racers...and who can go any amout of time without mentioning Danica Patrick?
But where are the fastest-- and most competitive-- women anywhere? Alaska. The famous Iditarod sled-dog race from Anchorage to Nome took place earlier this spring; it is a race featuring men and women competing as equals. In fact, for a time in the 1980's, two women made a major Iditiarod imprint in the show-- :Libby Butcher and Dee Dee Jonrowe. Both women took Iditarod titles, and were formidable racers, for many, many years. Even with their domination, no woman has won the race since 1990.
I have been a fan of the Iditarod since my earliest days. I remember watching highlights on the old sports montage shows-- like CBS Sports Spectacular, and ABC's Wide World of Sports. There is something about competing against both your opponents, and the ultimate opponent-- early spring in Alaska-- that intrigued me. Driving a dog sled in blizzard conditions at 2 a.m.... keeping your bearings and finding your markings-- and sometimes drifting off course... traveling through America's last frontier-- the interior of Alaska...and spending nine or ten days in subzero cold-- and all to be the first to pull into Nome. And to do it all while taking care of your most valuable asset-- your dogs...
It is the ultimate test of human endurance. And it is one of the only sporting events in history where men and women compete equally-- no advantages, no special classes-- just you, the elements, and your dogs. Ladies and gentlemen, start your dogs. The iditarod-- the best cross-country test of endurance-- and gender equity.
That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.