Emily Schwing was interviewed on May 1, 2015 by Karen Brewster at Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In this first part of a two part interview, Emily talks about how she got started in journalism, how she got involved in reporting on the Yukon Quest and Iditarod Sled Dog Races across Alaska, and how she learned about dog mushing. She describes what it is like for a reporter on the trail, gaining acceptance as a young, new reporter, making friends with the mushers, and deciding what types of stories to file.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Dog Mushing in Alaska
Date of Interview: May 1, 2015
Narrator(s): Emily Schwing
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Personal background and getting started in journalism
Coming to Alaska
Starting to work at KUAC public radio in Fairbanks, Alaska
First time reporting on the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race
Learning about dog mushing
Learning to be a sled dog race reporter
Separation of friendships and reporting
Learning life lessons from a 1000 mile sled dog race and emotional highs and lows on the trail
Gaining acceptance as a young reporter
Coping with the rigorous schedule of covering the race
Travel schedule when covering the Yukon Quest and Iditarod Sled Dog Races, airplane crashes, and hitching rides in trucks and on snowmachines
Making connections with people around Alaska
Deciding what stories to tell and dealing with uncertainty
Changes in dog mushing, and what the future has in store for the sport
Reporting on the human side of dog racing
Personal effect of reporting on long-distance sled dog races
Balancing personal with professional, and deciding when to tell a story and when to sit on it
Getting along with the race organizations and waiting for press releases
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KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. This is Karen Brewster and I'm here with Emily Schwing.
And it is May 1, 2015 and this is for the Dog Mushing Jukebox.
And I can’t hear myself, so I have to pause. EMILY SCHWING: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And I did say today is May 1, 2015 and we're here at Rasmuson Library in Fairbanks.
And Emily, thank you, for -- EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Finding time to come talk to us.
EMILY SCHWING: Thank you for having me.
KAREN BREWSTER: So just to kind of, you know, get us started before we leap into Yukon Quest and Iditarod, is to tell me a little bit about yourself.
Where you came from, education, how you got into journalism.
EMILY SCHWING: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Things like that.
EMILY SCHWING: Well, I actually love the story about how I got into journalism. When I was 19, I took a year off from Carleton College in Minnesota, where I was pursuing a degree in geology with a minor in environmental studies.
And my family had recently moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.
And so I decided I wanted to be a ski bum, but none of the ski resorts would hire me. So my dad told me that I didn’t necessarily have to find myself a paying job, but I had to find something to do.
So I went to the local public radio station in Salt Lake City, KUER-FM 90.
And I was there for about fifteen minutes stuffing envelopes before the news director that was then there came running past this little cubicle that I was stuffed into, sitting diligently filling envelopes with thank you notes that ask for more money as public radio stations tend to send.
And she said. "Who are you and what are you doing here?" And I said, "Well, I’m just a want-to-be ski bum. I'm not doing much."
And she said, "Well, our news director quit, so now I'm the new news director and my intern also quit so I need somebody in my office.
Do you want to do it?" And I said, "Sure."
And so I became the intern in the newsroom at KUER-FM 90. And what sealed the deal for me journalism-wise was a day when she sent me out to a press conference with Walter Cronkite.
And he -- so Walter Cronkite had this hobby where if he came to give a talk or some sort of presentation, he was really into big band music and so he liked to conduct big bands.
But there is no big band in Salt Lake City, but there is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. So he was there to conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
And so everyone from commercial television to commercial radio and the newspaper showed up for a press conference. And then there was me.
The little 19 year-old intern with my DAT machine, which I could barely use. And so we all lined up in front of Mr. Cronkite and he kind of talked to us about what his hobby was and why he was there and what he was doing.
And all the other reporters kept asking him things like how does conducting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir compare with covering the first landing on the moon or the assassination of President Kennedy?
And he said, "Well, quite honestly it doesn’t."
And so when it came time to ask some final questions, he kind of looked around the room and said anyone else?
And I was sitting on the floor, so I raised my hand timidly and he pointed to me, which was shocking. And he said, "You, there in the front."
And I said, "Well, look I'm 19. I'm taking a year off of college and I don’t know what I'm going to do with my life. So do you have any advice for somebody like me who doesn’t have a lot of direction, but really likes this business?"
And he said, "Indeed I do." And in front of all of the television cameras and everyone dressed in their business suits with their done-up hair, he said, "Never go commercial. And always fight with your editors."
And so I've never gone commercial. And I always fight with my editors.
And I have Mr. Cronkite to thank for that so --
KAREN BREWSTER: That’s great. So where did you grow up? Where do you come from originally?
EMILY SCHWING: Well, I was born in Denver, Colorado. And then when I was nine, my family moved to Pittsburgh and I finished high school there. And then as soon as I finished high school --
We’re a family of mountain loving ski bums. So my mom and dad dropped me off at college in Minnesota and moved back to Salt Lake City where they've been ever since so --
Yeah, I’m a western girl by heart and that's kind of -- that's kind of it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And then how did you end up in Alaska? And when did you come here?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, so when I graduated from Carleton College, I immediately landed myself an internship with the now defunct radio program called Radio Expeditions, which was a collaboration between National Public Radio and the National Geographic Society.
So I went to Washington, DC and I did that in 2000 -- from January to April 2006.
And then my producer that I worked with there said, "Well, what do you really want to do, Emily?" And I said, "Well, I don’t -- I don’t want to become a booker at NPR in Washington, DC for the rest of my life."
Like I want to do -- I want to be a storyteller and I want to work with sound.
I love audio editing. It's like just amazing and the most fun. It's like painting pictures with the sound waves.
So she said, "Well, start applying for internships all over". And I said, "Okay." And so I applied for an internship at KFSK, the public radio station in Petersburg, Alaska, just south of Juneau on Mitkof Island.
And I got it, shockingly. I was so surprised.
In fact, at the time a man named Matt Lichtenstein was the news director there and he called me to offer me the job. And I was so excited, I was jumping up and down on my bed and I dropped the phone.
And I immediately thought maybe they would say that they didn’t want me 'cause I was just like so excited.
But they still wanted me.
So I took the ferry -- I drove across the United States and then I took the ferry from Bellingham and I ended up in Petersburg.
And it was April 28, 2006 and the rain was coming in sideways. And it was cold and windy, and the sun was already kind of up and it was like three or four in the morning.
And I just thought, oh my God, what did I do? And then six hours later they were taking me on a tour around the island and I saw whales and sea lions and eagles everywhere. And that was kind of it.
So I did that for that summer and then I went down to Colorado to --
I wanted to go to Colorado State for the graduate degree program in ecology, 'cause I've always wanted to be a science reporter reporting on the environment and natural sciences.
But then I also got into graduate school in the Department of Arctic Biology and so I -- and Natural Resources Management here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
And they actually offered me more money here so I ended up coming up here for graduate school. And I 've been here off and on for eight years, ever since.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so graduate school was in ecology or -- ?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, so I started out in the biology department and then I switched to natural resources management. It was a better fit for me.
So I did that. But honestly, I spent most of my time in graduate school doing radio. So -- And finding stories to tell so, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so when did you come to work at KUAC?
EMILY SCHWING: So I -- when I was in graduate school I volunteered. I used to host Prairie Home Companion on Saturday evenings.
And then I'd fill in at other times and help with the fundraiser and I was just kind of always at KUAC.
Like following Libby Casey around and Dan Bross around like a little duckling.
And then in 2010 -- well, in 2009 originally I asked if I could cover the Yukon Quest 'cause they really couldn’t find a reporter that wanted to do it, which shocked me cause it just seemed like such an amazing adventure.
But they didn’t have a lot of faith that I could hack it on the Yukon Quest trail.
So in 2010, I decided to prove them wrong. And I begged them for it.
And at the time a gentleman named Jerry Evans was the programming director and he said to me, "Are you sure you want to do this?" And I was like, "Of course, I want to do this. It sounds awesome."
So I covered my first Quest and --
KAREN BREWSTER: And that was in 2010?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, and I knew nothing about mushing. And quite honestly, like, I didn’t care about mushing. When I lived -- when I --
You know, the years prior to that I thought it was weird.
I was like why would people spend their whole life savings on dog teams and this is the strangest sport, you know. And I just like really didn’t follow the races or anything.
So I got into this race in 2010 and I didn’t know a thing about it. I was such a greenhorn or sourdough, I guess you would say here in Interior.
But, I've been doing it ever since.
KAREN BREWSTER: So how did you end up learning then about mushing?
EMILY SCHWING: Actually, that's a good question. So I -- well, I did the first race and then I made a lot of friends on that race who kind of --
They realized I didn’t know a lot about it and some of my closest friends I’ve known because of the Yukon Quest.
There's a guy named Joel Switzer who handled for Dew Claw Kennels that year. And he kind of took me under his wing.
And then I’m -- at the time my boyfriend, Drew, he knew a musher down in Nenana. And so we used to go down to his kennel every weekend.
And then in 2000 -- wow, in 2011, I guess, I spent the fall -- I kind of embedded myself in his kennel -- Goldstream Kennels run by Andy Hooten, who has become a dear friend.
And I just from October 'til January that year I worked every single weekend with his dogs just to learn about dogs and learn how to feed dogs.
And there were a couple of times where he went down to Anchorage for, you know, three or four days and left me alone with 35 dogs, which was an interesting adventure.
I learned a lot of things like how to break up a dog fight without getting bit, which is a hard lesson to learn.
I learned a lot about dog sex, which is an interesting little adventure.
And just like what dogs eat and what they're like and how to harness break puppies and, yeah, that's kind of how I did it.
And then I ended up buying a Husky of my own who is my -- my own little world.
She's my best friend. I don’t know if I could make it through life without her, but I ended up getting a dog from Andy and she's -- it's been the best thing that ever happened to me.
KAREN BREWSTER: You're not ready to get a whole team?
EMILY SCHWING: No, no, in fact, Frank Turner, well-known Frank Turner, said to me two years ago at the Finisher’s Banquet in Whitehorse, "Emily, you've done this so many years now you'll probably have a dog team of your own some day." And I looked at Frank and I said, "Like hell I will."
And I said, "Frank, I’m not that crazy, I’m not that rich, and I’m not that dumb." So that's not happening. One is enough.
And I can go visit anybody else’s kennel whenever I want so --
KAREN BREWSTER: So who -- who was doing -- so was Libby the reporter on the trail before you?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, so Libby was -- she actually has done more Yukon Quests than I. I think she's covered seven and I've done five.
And then she left and there were two years where, I think, one year KUAC used a reporter from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and they just did call-ins every day, but that doesn’t work so great for radio 'cause you're missing out on like the whole element of sound in radio.
So they opted out of doing that and then the next year, I think, was the year that they decided to hire me.
And then the following year after my first Quest, I had actually moved down to Idaho and I was working for Boise State Public Radio as their Morning Edition host with the solid understanding that in the month of February I'd be able to come up here. As part of my contract that I'd be able to come up and cover the Quest.
And then KUAC offered me a full-time gig as a reporter with, you know, the Yukon Quest as an added -- what I saw as an added incentive.
So I decided to take the full-time reporting job because I'm more of a reporter at heart than I am just a host.
So that's how I ended up at KUAC for three -- for more than three years, full time, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: And how many Quests did you cover?
EMILY SCHWING: I’ve done total five Yukon Quest’s and three Iditarod’s so, yeah.
Eight thousand miles of sled dog racing -- long distance sled dog racing, which is quite a bit.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you mentioned that, you know, you went into it green. How did the mushers respond to you as a reporter with not having quite as much background that first year?
EMILY SCHWING: Hugh Neff made me cry.
There were other mushers, you know, he knew. He knew -- Hugh Neff was kind of having a magic -- what we call a magic carpet ride from the beginning of the race. He likes to play the rabbit in those races and so he was way out in front.
He's a little bit more arrogant. I think he knows this, so I don’t think I'll hurt his feelings. He's a little bit more arrogant than other mushers so -- and he likes to tease.
So he gave me a really hard time that year, but then -- and there were a couple of other mushers -- Dallas Seavey.
That was the year Dallas Seavey won. And he was younger than I was and so he gave me a really hard time.
I think mostly he was just kind of puffing his chest and there was a little arrogance there. But these days -- you know, this year people know me, you know, and so Dallas even said to me, "You know, we're really happy to see you back."
And it's been -- it's gotten lot easier -- like a lot easier just because I know everybody’s story now and I know everybody’s dogs.
And I know where their dogs have come from and I know their styles.
And some people I even know what they like to eat on the trail, you know, so --
And I can read people’s moods a lot better. There are just some people that I've really become good friends with, you know.
I was -- I was really surprised I had a really interesting experience at Whitehorse this year with Aliy Zirkle. You know, for me I’m working and so, you know, I try -- I’m a very social person and I'm not really shy,
but I try not to like do too much personal socializing when I’m on the race with people just because it can be a little awkward to be somebody’s friend and then be a reporter, as well.
But I was sitting in this coffee shop called "Baked" in Whitehorse two days before the Quest started this year. And I was working.
I was like clearing up some email and making sure all my ducks were in a row and I had enough batteries and things like that.
And Aliy Zirkle came in with her handlers 'cause she was running the Quest 300 this year. She usually does every year.
And she -- I heard her from like across the room she was like, "Is that Emily?"
And then all of a sudden she started like waving her arms and she's like, "Emily. Emily Schwing, come over. Come over."
And so I did. I picked up my coffee and my computer and I went and like sat with her.
And she's like, "Oh, well, you’re a friend of ours. So, you know, have a coffee with us." And little things like that like make a big difference.
I’ve gotten a lot of thank you notes from mushers and just like hugs and thank you’s from mushers like it's really nice to have you on the race and we're glad you're here to tell our story.
And yeah, so -- the thing with reporting on mushing is, you know, like it's not -- I’m not finding a cure for cancer and I'm not like in a war zone -- like I’m not covering like hard-hitting, breaking like, you know, news.
But at the same time -- there is a musher Bruce Lee, who has also kind of taken me under his wing on the Iditarod and we've talked a lot about --
You know, that saying "Everything you need to know in life, you learned in kindergarten?"
Actually, everything you need to know in life you can learn on a 1,000 mile sled dog race. And I firmly believe that.
There's a lot of emotion. And there's a lot of life lessons. And there're a lot of peaks and valleys.
And every thousand mile race is different, but in some ways they're all the same.
And everything you need to know about how to deal with people and life is right there for 12 days.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you have some examples? EMILY SCHWING: Ah --
KAREN BREWSTER: Of some of those life lessons?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, I do. You know, I may get really emotional about this so --
This year was really a difficult race on the Iditarod 'cause I saw a lot of people that were friends really struggle and go through a lot of self-evaluation.
You know, Aliy Zirkle has tried to win the Iditarod for many years now. I think she's done 15 races now -- 14 or 15.
And, you know, the last three years prior to this year she finished in third place or second place. And then -- behind a Seavey.
And she missed her year last year, which sucked,
KAREN BREWSTER: Wasn’t there a storm that --
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean and that was very dramatic, you know, like, but to see her this year, you know, we kind of had a heart to heart and, you know, the cli -- off the record.
And I just said to her, I was like Aliy what’s going on with you, you know, like you’re just a little bit more serious than the normal Aliy Zirkle?
'Cause usually Aliy comes through a checkpoint and she wants to hug everybody and she knows everybody and, you know, all the locals want to see her and there's a like 150 people gathered around her dog team. No joke.
And like she can’t feed her dogs and she can’t, you know, like it kind of messes with her efficiency in the dog yard.
And this year, she wasn’t her -- her like happy like, you know, she comes into a checkpoint and she says, "Howdy." You know, she hugs everybody.
But this year she wasn’t really like that.
I've also -- I watched Lance Mackey really struggle in Tanana this year. And that was really difficult, you know, like he was crying, so I was crying and, you know, like at the end of my interview we just gave each other a hug and he was just like I don’t think I’m a great musher.
And I told him, I was like, "Lance, you’re -- you’re one of the greatest mushers so --"
You know, but to see somebody that you know and that you've watched for years, struggle with frostbitten fingers or to watch someone like Brent Sass, who's, you know, this really warm friendly guy just have this enormous disappointment all because of an iPod, you know.
Like -- 'cause he was disqualified this year, you know, that was really difficult. And so, yeah, like there's just all these -- these little lessons.
And then, you know, just the way that you watch people work with their dogs.
You know, there are some people who just don’t have it together.
And then there are other people where you're just like, okay, like this person really --
There's a musher from Tagish Lake in the Yukon, Michelle Phillips, and I think she could have definitely pushed her dogs harder this year in the Iditarod.
But she is very in tune with her dogs and, you know, does a lot of dog care. And I think that sometimes it's hard for mushers to sort of break that barrier between competition and, you know, dog care and race and so that's another lesson to learn so, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you said you were young. How young were you when you first started?
EMILY SCHWING: Ah, 26 or 27. Yeah. I'm 32 now, so I -- people tell me I'm still young. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
EMILY SCHWING: But I have some gray hairs, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: But, well, as you say for those mushers, and some of the ones, you know, they've been doing that race for 10 years and then you come along as this new, young thing. Not a musher --
EMILY SCHWING: Oh, more than 10 years. You know, Jeff King's been running dogs for longer than I've been alive.
Martin Buser has, too. So has Mitch Seavey, you know, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So -- that, you know, like yeah, how they -- I mean it certainly seems to be it's a bit of a club. EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: And how you break -- how you broke into that?
EMILY SCHWING: It is. There's a good ole boy’s club. I think it helps to be a pretty girl.
I’m also -- I'm not very shy. You know, like, there is like some postulating and arrogance and posturing with -- with some people that I just am sort of like get over yourself, you know.
Like you got to blow that stuff off and you got to learn to not take it personally and that’s --
That's the thing with these races. Like as a reporter on the race, you don’t sleep, you don’t eat good food, you're constantly traveling wherever the dog teams are going you’re going.
And you may not be standing on the back of the sled in 50 below for eight hours, four hours or 12 hours or -- you know, for 200 mile runs.
But you are definitely dealing with some of your own stresses. And so that's a really interesting thing where you got to just learn.
I think my first Yukon Quest I took a lot of things personally. I was very hard on myself and didn’t think I was doing a good job.
But that’s, you know, that's my personality, too. I have very high expectations for my work so, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so how do you deal with the sleep deprivation and the schedule and --
EMILY SCHWING: It's really funny now. There are times when I’m not on the Yukon Quest and I've got a lot of work to do or I’ve got a big project coming.
And I’m like man, when am I going to get through this? And I'm like well, you know, I spend two to three weeks of the year traveling on a thousand mile sled dog race, not sleeping and eating well so if it takes, you know, if it's just for two days or four days or whatever I can do it, you know.
Like that's an interesting -- an interesting thing.
I have found that I deal with the sleep deprivation less well the more I cover the races.
Yeah, when I first started it was all kind of a novelty and I think that that's kind of what got me through on my first two years, but then my third year doing it I kind of realized like I needed --
I needed to really make sure that I was taking care of myself a little bit better.
So I try to get about four -- three to four hours solid of sleep.
You know, you could lay down for an hour on a race and just not feel rested at all. So it has to do with your REM cycle and things like that.
In terms of the eating, I've gotten a lot better at bringing my own food.
My mom and dad live in Salt Lake City so this year at Christmas time I went to Trader Joe’s and I bought like a whole box of really good snacks, you know, and that's what I had for the Quest and the Iditarod so --
And also, you know, on the Iditarod in particular because you're in so many villages and there is no road access, you start to get to know the locals. And they start to invite you over.
So I've had some -- man, I had a really good time in Kaltag this year. I was there for three and a half days.
And I just like -- it was great. I had -- some people let me stay with them in their house.
And then a woman in town invited me over and taught me how to make Indian fry bread with her friends. And we ate Indian fry bread and Indian tacos and yeah, oh, it was the most delicious food.
You know, and I was walking through town, and I met this little girl named Ellen. And she kind of just like glommed onto me like a magnet and she was like you're going to be my friend.
And then all of a sudden her little brother and her cousin started hanging out with me, too. And I mean they weren’t any older than like six or ten years old, you know.
And so I ended up like pulling them around on a sled and then their grandfather came and picked them up.
He was pulling a sled on a snowmachine and so little Ellen she's like come with us. So we all jump on the sled and we end up at this guy’s house.
And he was like, "Do you want to eat pizza with us?"
And I was like, "Yeah." So I got, you know, homemade pizza for dinner, which was awesome. So just little things like that, you know, where you start to get to really know people and it's -- makes it super special.
KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe you can talk a little bit about sort of the schedule and how you travel for people who don’t know?
EMILY SCHWING: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: You know, how you get -- you're not going by dog sled, but you're somehow getting from point A to point B.
EMILY SCHWING: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: And why is that you're up 20 hours a day?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. Travel's a nightmare.
Like it's just a total nightmare, especially for the Iditarod.
The Quest is a little bit easier 'cause all of the checkpoints, except for one are road accessible in some way.
So you have to fly from between Dawson City in the Yukon and Eagle. And then you have to fly between Eagle and Circle and, you know, it switches directions every year. So it just depends on which way.
That's a little bit easier because, you know, you can just decide like I'm going to jump in this car. I'm supposed to -- I'm supposed to share rides with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, but a lot of times I like to do my own thing, so --
And everybody kind of knows me now that I'll just like bum rides with people and they're happy to travel with me.
I've had every -- I've ridden in every kind of vehicle.
I've slept in every kind of vehicle on the Yukon Quest. I've even slept in the straw in a dog truck, which is surprisingly more comfortable than it sounds. Straw is very warm.
So, but, yeah, I mean I've traveled with photographers. I've traveled with mushers’ handlers. I've traveled with the Yukon Quest race organization.
And I'm so thankful for everybody because they're just -- it’s been great. And like the nice thing is you get to -- you get to make all these friends, you know.
On the Iditarod, especially this year, it was like such an adventure. It was really cool.
Usually I travel by airplane. I've had some really interesting little experiences in airplanes, which I try not to tell my mom about because I think she would --
She would find a way to lock me up if she knew.
KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe you could tell us.
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, totally. So the scariest experience I ever had was in a little ghost town called Iditarod, which is on the southern route of the Iditarod Trail.
And we got stuck there for a long time.
KAREN BREWSTER: Because of weather?
EMILY SCHWING: Hm mm. So it warmed up to over 40 degrees above zero that year. That was my first Iditarod, so three years ago now.
And -- and so the planes -- they're on skis and they're little bush planes and like it could land on -- like it's a little oxbow lake, so it could land on the lake, but it couldn’t take off because as soon as it starts to push that snow the skis turn into like big shovels.
And so the pilot just was like no, I can’t come and get you. And that year was really strange because there was a plane crash in Rainy Pass, which was a little bit scary.
And then there was another plane crash in Iditarod. So when we got there, there was like this pile of plane covered in a tarp that had clipped a tree on takeoff.
And nobody was injured. The crash in Rainy Pass, there were fatalities, which was really scary.
The crash in Iditarod, everybody walked away, so it was, you know, not as shaky for me, but it still was 'cause there's a crashed plane sitting right there.
So finally -- and I was freaking out because I was supposed to like fly back through Anchorage and then come back up the trail. But it just --
I hated the whole plan because I was like, "No, I'm going to miss half the race trying to get to where I need to go. And this is dumb."
So I call -- I was working for APR -- Alaska Public Radio Network . We shared coverage between KUAC and the Alaska Public Radio Network.
And so I called APRN and I said. "I'm going to Iditarod. I'll call you when I get there. Okay, bye."
And I hung up before I could ask. I never even said please. I was just like -- I was more of a like forgive me later kind of deal 'cause that's sort of like my rule as a reporter. Like never ask for permission, always ask for forgiveness 'cause you get a better story that way.
And so I did. I went to Iditarod and it was great. I got all kinds of material.
All kinds of material 'cause I was there for almost four days.
And I remember sitting up against the cabin with my fur ruff down over my face just thinking oh, my God, the race is so far ahead of me now.
I mean they were like out at Eagle Island and heading into, you know, Unalakleet and I was still in Iditarod.
And I -- the way I played it off was I was like, oh, don’t worry about it. I’m just getting back-of-the-pack stories, you know. But finally we convinced this -- this pilot to come and pick us up.
And he had white hair, which is a very lucky thing. Like all pilots with white hair are the pilots you're supposed to fly with 'cause they've been flying for a long time.
So we were taking off, and I was with my dear friend Mille Porsild, and she hates to fly. She gets really sick.
And we were like holding hands 'cause the takeoff is really shaky and he couldn’t get the plane off the ground and it like veered off into a drift of snow.
And me and Milla just kind of lile looked at each other and we were like did that just happen?
And it did. And the pilot reached over and grabs this like tiny plastic shovel with like a piece broken off of it and he's like, "Well, let’s go dig her out."
And I’m just like what is going on? And so then this guy from a village nearby Iditarod came around and pulled us out.
Pulled the plane out with his snowmachine and then we got some people to literally hold onto like the stanchions that hold the wings up and push the plane as we were taking off. And we took off.
But it was -- that was really hairy.
So that was my scariest experience in an airplane.
This year, on the Iditarod was like super fun because again I was supposed to fly back through Fair -- well, they re-routed the trail this year.
So I was supposed to fly back through Fairbanks from -- drive back down to Fairbanks from Manley and then fly out to Ruby, but skip Tanana.
But all kinds of stuff was going down on the race that early and it was really cold, so there was just like a lot of things happening.
And so I called APRN. 'Cause this year I was working solely for APRN on the race. And I said, "I found a snowmachine ride to Tanana. I'll call you when I get there. Find -- like charter me a flight from Tanana to Ruby." And I hung up the phone.
And I hadn’t quite worked out my snowmachine ride, but former Iditarod champion Robert Sorlie made a deal last year with a man named Thomas Warner. They're both Norwegian.
That they would fund two Iditarod’s over the course of two years. And Sorlie would run the first one and then Thomas Warner would run the second one.
So Sorlie was out there with a whole crew of Norwegians and they were following Thomas Warner on a snowmachine.
And he had an extra seat on the snowmachine, so he was literally coming down the street on his snowmachine and I just flagged him down and I said, "Robert, are you going to Manley?" And he said, "Yeah. And I said, "When are you leaving?"
And he said, "Right now."
And I said, "Can I come with you?" And he said, "Yeah."
And then he looks me up and down and he's like, "Is that all the clothes you have to wear?"
And I was like, "Yep." And I had all of my clothes on.
And I said. "Can we go over to the checkpoint and grab my bag?" And he said, "Yeah." So we strapped my bag to his snowmachine.
And ten minutes later I was on my way to Manley with a former Iditarod champion. KAREN BREWSTER: Or to Tanana?
EMILY SCHWING: Oh, yeah, to Tanana, sorry from Manley with a former Iditarod champion, which was like totally awesome.
KAREN BREWSTER: It's a good thing you're a small person. You can fit in one of those seats on the snowmachine.
EMILY SCHWING: Oh, totally, yeah. No, it works to my advantage to be a tiny human because like I said I can sleep in a dog truck and any pilot will be glad to fly me so --
I've also learned to pack very light so, yeah.
So it was 50 below and we drove to Tanana. And I was freezing and it was -- but it was really fun.
And then he told me, he was like, "You’re just a really tough, easy passenger so I'll take you anywhere you want to go on the trail." And I was like, "Okay." So later on down the trail in Kaltag I was supposed to fly out.
I had ulterior motives. That trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet has some amazing stories. It's a pretty interesting trail.
So the Koyukon Athabascan’s and the Inupiaq Eskimo's have shared it as a trade route for 5,000 years or more.
And it' a very magical part. I think it's the most gorgeous part of the Iditarod Trail. And on through the Unalakleet River valley.
And I've always wanted to ski it.
There's two BLM maintained cabins out there, so I wanted to check out the trail.
And so I asked Sorlie if he would give me a ride and he said yes and off we went.
And there is a cabin there called Old Woman Cabin. There's actually two. There's like an old -- like the original Old Woman Cabin and then BLM built a new one.
But as the story goes or the legend -- as legend would have it, I guess is a better way to put it, the ghost of the old woman is still there.
And so the mushers leave a little thing of food there for her otherwise she jinx’s your race.
So I did actually leave food for the old woman and it was cool. It was really special to get to see it, so I'm really happy I did.
KAREN BREWSTER: Cool. EMILY SCHWING: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So when you're flying between places, those are all charters or I mean, there's that Iditarod --
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. There's the Iditarod Air Force. I'm not allowed to fly with them because they're all set up through the Iditarod race organization so I wouldn’t be covered.
And those are all voluntary flights. And the FAA has a rule about paying for flights and volunteer flights and it kind of has messed up some things with the race organizations being able to -- like it's just made it less cost effective.
And it's really hard in Alaska because there are so many flights like -- or places that you have to fly into. So voluntary flights is sort of an issue.
So I'm not allowed to be on those airplanes.
Which complicates things and it's really expensive. Like chartering a bush plane is really expensive, so yeah.
And it's just a challenge. I mean, you can get weathered in. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
EMILY SCHWING: So -- But it was nice, you know, now that I've done it enough and I know I can flag down a snowmachine like, that's great.
And then what also happened was, you know, in Kaltag I ended up finding these women that let me stay in their house.
And then, they knew some people up in Unalakleet.
So I got to stay in someone’s house in Unalakleet, which is super special.
And actually the woman I stayed with in Unalakleet called me last week, and just like wanted to say hi and check on some things. And "Come back to Unalakleet any time you want."
And I was like, "Well, come to Fairbanks any time you want." You know, like it's -- it's -- those kinds of things are really great.
So I by no means got into covering mushing because I wanted to cover mushing.
I got into covering mushing because it was a way to get more connected with the state of Alaska.
And get into places where there are stories to be told that I would not otherwise be able to discover so --
And not get to connect with a whole lot of people so. And it's great because, you know, like you see your friends once a year and they remember you and you remember them and it's really cool.
KAREN BREWSTER: So how do you decide which stories to tell? I mean, you were talking about being stuck for four days and there's this race going on.
And so you do have to balance the leader stories with everybody else and --
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So that deciding which stories to tell and then how the scheduling affects that?
EMILY SCHWING: There's this little thing that I kind of came up with this year. I don’t know whether to call it karma or kismet or just trail magic, but it just seems to -- knock on wood, you know, like knock on wood. I think, it just seems to come together, you know.
I don’t know. I mean you're so tired and you're just like hungry -- feel like a warm meal and like good coffee 'cause the coffee's like motor oil.
And you're just kind of like always frustrated because something -- like your Internet connection just always is going to be horrible.
And so there's just always like a constant frustration, but somehow it all works out. Like the -- and it happens in every checkpoint.
Like I was in Koyuk this year, totally freaking out because the top five teams started coming in.
The race was playing out, you know, and like -- like I didn’t -- I was -- I needed to go get on a plane at four o’clock in the afternoon, but all the teams were coming in.
And like Dallas Seavey was in and he was asleep and I didn’t know if he was going to wake up in time for me to interview him.
And then Aaron Burmeister came in and wanted to go sleep before I could interview him. And then like, you know, Aliy Zirkle and Jessie Royer were coming in and I didn’t know if they were going to arrive before I had to go up to the plane.
And, you know, village time works a little bit different than news time so --
In the village you move slow and you sit around and wait for a long time.
And it's frustrating 'cause you could be sitting up on the runway in Koyuk and a quarter mile down the road all the action is happening in the checkpoint.
So that's really frustrating, but it always seems to work out.
Like I called APRN and I was like, "Call Bering Air. See if they can just fly in and pick me up on --" Like, you know, 'cause they're flying over or like find somebody who's just flying over who can pick me up.
And they couldn’t find anybody and I was going to get stuck there and if I got stuck there I couldn’t get into White Mountain on time and if I got -- if I missed White Mountain I couldn’t get into Nome for the finish.
And it was a nightmare. And then all of a sudden, the plane decided to show up 30 minutes later than it needed to. I got all the interviews I needed.
I got into White Mountain. I filed my story and I was able to get six and a half hours of sleep, you know, and like then the next day in White Mountain the same thing happened.
Like I had no tape. The teams came four hours later than we expected them to. And then all of a sudden three teams showed up and, in fact, the guy from the village that's like the liaison for the airline came to get me on a snowmachine and take me up to the runway.
And then my plane -- I was getting on and the pilot was like, well, you know, like with you on the plane even though you're small, it's a little overweight. So I got to go drop some stuff off down the, you know, down the "road."
And then I'll come back and pick you up. So I'll be back in an hour.
And I was like, yes. That's exactly what I wanted to happen.
So the guy took me back down to the dog yard. I interviewed Jessie Royer, you know, I got some more tape from Dallas Seavey.
And that was it. Like I got everything I needed. And like it just -- it's trail magic. It just works out.
And if it's not working out, someone will make a phone call for you if you really need them to, you know.
And like if you're nice to them and if you're -- if, you know, you have a good rapport with people and like -- and they like you and you like them, you know, somehow trail magic.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah, I mean now that's also because you've been doing it for so long.
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: But that first year, you know, those things, on the -- you know on the Quest things --
EMILY SCHWING: I think the first year people felt bad for me.
I think they were like, she clearly has no idea what she's doing, but she maybe --
I like to think that maybe they think I had promise, so they helped me out.
KAREN BREWSTER: Did you get advice from Libby and some of the other people who'd covered the races before?
EMILY SCHWING: No. I mean Libby was -- she was already out in Washington, DC by then, so I didn’t really talk to her about it. And no, I mean I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t even think I did a whole lot of research beforehand.
I remember going to the food drop here in Fairbanks when all the mushers -- Like two or three weeks before the race all the mushers drop off their drop bags in Fairbanks or in Whitehorse.
And I remember the race -- the executive director of the race, Marti Steury, looked at me and she gave me a big hug and she said, "Emily Schwing, welcome to the family." And I was like what does that mean?
You know, and then the race finished and she said, "Well, you know, you haven’t actually covered a Yukon Quest for real until you do it in both directions."
So I came back the next year and I'd done it in both directions. And now I've done it five times.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, still how do you decide on the stories you're going to do?
EMILY SCHWING: Oh, deciding on the stories. Um, you know, so the most important thing and I will tell anybody who covers these races in the future is that the play by play doesn’t matter.
It's like kind of going back to that thing I said earlier about everything you learn on a thousand mile sled dog race is what you need to know for life.
And so that's how you figure out what your stories are, you know. Like I don’t care who's running in first place because they may not be in first place in an hour and a half, you know.
And I don’t care who's running in last place because they may not be in last place, you know, tomorrow.
It's more of, you know, like -- like what I was saying this year was like probably the most emotional race for Lance Mackey. And the most touching story, I think, in this year’s Iditarod was Lance Mackey and his brother Jason.
You know, Lance got to Tanana. He'd already like completely been beat up on the Yukon Quest this year because of the cold.
KAREN BREWSTER: So he did the Quest and the Iditarod?
EMILY SCHWING: Uh-huh. And he knew, you know, like this is kind of the end of his long distance mushing career, because his body just can’t handle it. And like his mind is tough enough and he wants to be able to do it.
But I'm not sure that physically he -- he can hold up anymore.
And I talked to both him and his brother, Jason, who's -- I mean they're just --
KAREN BREWSTER: Jason was running it as -- the Iditarod? EMILY SCHWING: He was running the Iditarod this year as well.
And Jason basically told Lance when he came into the checkpoint in Tanana, I'm not going to let you scratch. Like we're going to finish this together.
So what proceeded was this amazing run with these two brothers who, you know -- mushers are allowed to have help from other mushers. They are not allowed to have outside assistance.
So Jason essentially like kept up with Lance and helped Lance when he needed it. Like put booties on his dogs 'cause his fingers were so frostbitten. And that's a story, you know.
The fact that Lance Mackey was running in whatever place he was running in is not a story, you know.
I don’t even -- I mean like Dallas Seavey, when he won the race this year, that's a good story, you know. But like how Dallas Seavey managed to win all these Iditarod’s in his twenties, that’s -- that's the story.
Like what is Dallas doing with his dogs that no one else is doing, you know?
Man, there are so many. Like one of the stories that -- like my favorite story of this whole year -- this year on the Iditarod my favorite story was my last story.
There's this huge change in mushing happening right now where like, you know, we talked about like the good ole boys. Like the Jeff King’s and the Martin Buser’s and the Lance Mackey’s.
And all these older mushers who've been in it for life are realizing that things are really changed, you know. Training has changed.
Climate change is changing how people train.
The cost of mushing is astronomical. So nobody can run, you know, a kennel with a hundred or two hundred dogs anymore.
People’s kennels have 35 dogs, which is -- I personally think really wonderful for the sport because that means that a musher is working more closely with dogs and understanding their animals a little bit better.
But there's also these like young people who are coming up. They're really focused on good dog care and, you know, healthy -- healthy animals and efficient kennel management.
And they’re young, you know. They're in their late twenties and early thirties and some of them are, you know, just hitting 40, and they've got a lot of promise, you know.
And it's a really cool change to see. It's a really emotional change to see because it is very hard for people like, you know, Jeff King or Martin Buser. You know, these are really proud guys and they're very successful, but to be able to admit like I just can’t keep up with Brent Sass or Wade Marrs or, you know, whoever else is out there.
Ryne Olson -- she'll be up there. Paige Drobny. She says she's not competitive, but she is. So, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: But yeah, so you think there's still a future in dog mushing?
EMILY SCHWING: That's a good question. I don’t want to say, no.
Yes, I think there's still a definite future in dog mushing, but I think that it is going to take a lot of dedication from the mushers that we're seeing today to keep the sport alive.
I mean there -- there's no money in it, so you have to love it.
And so -- and I think I identify with that a little bit more than I want to admit 'cause there's no money in what I do for a living, but I love it.
So, yeah, I mean finding a way to make it work is an interesting endeavor I think, but yeah --
KAREN BREWSTER: I don’t know if there's ever been money in dog mushing.
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: For the top five, maybe.
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, but, you know, like I mean these days like it costs seventy to a hundred thousand dollars to run a kennel.
This year the payout for the first place finisher on the Iditarod was a new truck and $70,000. It was the largest purse in the Iditarod’s history and --
KAREN BREWSTER: And the Quest has a smaller?
EMILY SCHWING: The Quest this year I think it was like somewhere around $30,000. And like for the first place winner. And like that covers your race expenses.
It costs between twenty and thirty thousand dollars to run a thousand mile race. Because if you think about it I mean it's like the time that you put into training.
It's all the equipment. It's all your drop bags. It's food.
I mean people spend up to $10,000 just on food alone. Like that’s crazy, you know, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah, and they're -- because they're feeding their dogs -- you say they're really into the science of nutrition -- EMILY SCHWING: Uh-huh.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- and it's not like the old days where you're feeding them fish out of the river.
EMILY SCHWING: Well, and also you can’t go to Costco or, you know, I guess Sam’s Club and buy what used to be a nine dollar bag of kibble. Is now, like, a high performance kibble is $60.00 a bag. And the bag only lasts two days 'cause you're feeding 30 or 40 dogs.
So I mean, yeah, it's just -- it's -- there's not -- I mean the cost is crazy. It blows my mind, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: So back to the filing of the stories. I think some of it -- it sounds like from listening to you, that some of it's who you are as a reporter and how you think about things and what you're seeing as a story.
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: 'Cause as you say, you're not so worried about who's in which place, you -- EMILY SCHWING: No.
KAREN BREWSTER: You look at people and humanity and you think -- EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- this is an interesting story to tell.
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, I mean everybody --
KAREN BREWSTER: That's your background and training probably and who you are as a person.
EMILY SCHWING: Everybody has a story to tell. I mean I have a million stories to tell.
I'm sure you do, too. It's just, you know, getting -- I like to get to know people and mushers inherently seem to be characters.
I mean, you have to be to want to stand on the runners for days. For nine days straight and not sleep and spend it all with a team of 14 or 16 dogs.
You know, and to do that not just for two weeks, but year in and year out, you know.
There's -- there is a certain kind of person, you know, and they've all got interesting fascinating life experience.
There's a lot of times where I'll find myself like thinking about what's going on in my life and I’m interviewing a musher and I want to ask them advice, you know.
Like how should I deal with this problem or this person that hurt me or this, you know, issue that I’m struggling with, you know.
I never really have, although I will say that my closest friends, some of them are mushers or have been involved in a race.
And, you know, they're a little bit older than me and have offered some really good helpful advice that I think when you're my age you kind of have to not fight it.
You have to accept it and just kind of like let it soak in a little bit.
That's the lesson I learned this year on the Iditarod. Like I may not agree with what you're telling me, but I know in the long run if I listen to you it'll be good for me so --
Yeah, I think that these races have definitely changed me as a person. And especially this year.
I think I finally like reached that point in my age where -- where I'm not like young and know it all, you know. I'm young and dumb.
KAREN BREWSTER: So how do you think it's changed you?
EMILY SCHWING: Ah. Oh, my God, there's so much -- so much.
I don’t take things as personally. I've realized, you know, -- God, I'm going to watch this in like 10 years and I'm going to be like I can’t believe you said that.
I've had a lot of very unexpected upheaval in my life in the last three months and that is all I am going to say about that.
Things that were very unexpected and I didn’t think I was tough enough to deal with it.
And then you watch somebody like Lance Mackey deal with it. And you watch someone like Aliy Zirkle, who you really look up to and very much respect deal with a lot of the same unexpected change, and just like unwanted change,
Like I didn’t want this for my life and it's not what I planned for. And you see them do it, and then they tell you that you're friends.
And I think you're like, okay, I can do that.
So that's kind of how I've seen myself change. Does that make sense?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Well, and it does lead me to one of my questions was that, you know, as you said you become friends with these people having done this for so many years. EMILY SCHWING: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: But you're supposed to be a reporter. EMILY SCHWING: Right, that's a danger. It's a big danger. KAREN BREWSTER: So how do you handle that?
EMILY SCHWING: Well, like I said earlier, you know, this isn’t -- I’m not -- I’m not covering nuclear weapons or I’m not covering congress.
I’m not covering -- I’m not covering politics, you know. I'm covering people.
And I’m a person, too. And so -- and like I've had -- there're -- there're other colleagues that are also on the race that have told me like I am really careful to keep people at arm's length.
Which in my humble opinion I think is a danger in covering mushing because then you're not getting the story that you want. You're just getting the race.
And, you know, I think you have to be a little bit vulnerable to get people’s stories.
And I think people have to like you and want to talk to you to tell you what's going on in their hearts and minds.
It is very draining. And it's very difficult to be friends with people that you see struggle.
And I've given a lot of hugs after interviews and I've gotten a lot of hugs after interviews.
But, yeah, I mean it's a different kind of news, you know.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Well and does it affect how you decide to file the story? You can say well, I know this about this person, but I’m not going to do that as a story.
Or making sure you cover everybody equally? EMILY SCHWING: Uh-huh.
KAREN BREWSTER: Instead of like, well, I’m friends with this person so I keep doing their story?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, no. In fact, like for the first half of both races I usually try to stay away from the front of the pack as much as possible, because I know that by the time we start to get close to the finish line, you know, the race is --
like race strategy is starting to get really interesting and so that's when the coverage gets a little bit more race'y. Not like racey, but like --
KAREN BREWSTER: Race oriented.
EMILY SCHWING: Race oriented, yeah, totally.
But there are some stories that I have chosen not to tell, because I felt like I couldn’t do a good enough job on the trail doing research.
Like there was some illness with some dogs this year on the Yukon Quest that I knew about because a vet is a friend of mine and told me some things off the record.
But I opted out of trying to write that story because I felt like it involved a lot more research and a lot more digging and there was a musher that very nearly lost a dog and it's really hard to lose a dog.
And it's very hard to cover losing a dog. In fact, we, in our newsroom at KUAC, made an agreement because both Dan Bross and I are very close with our dogs and our dogs mean quite a bit to us.
And so with that understanding we decided that unless it was very clear that the musher had put their dog in danger and that's why the dog had been lost that we weren’t going to really harp on a dead dog.
Just because it's so like -- it's emotionally devastating to lose an animal on a race like this, especially when you've spent years raising them from puppies, so --
Yeah, so there are stories and, you know, there's -- I know that there are other examples that I could give you. I can’t really think of any right now.
Well, here's -- this is a great example. So a couple of years ago the Iditarod made a mistake with a dog in Unalakleet and it passed away.
And it belongs -- it belonged to Paige Drobny and Cody Strathe. And I knew about it three days in advance of a press release going out, because I was eating breakfast with them when the race marshal came to tell them what happened.
And I sat on it for a while because I, you know, they're my friends and I wanted to respect their loss.
But I also didn’t want -- I mean nobody -- I didn’t want to make the race organization angry because then I don’t get to cover the race any more, you know.
Which is like journalistically I know that that's a little shady. And I struggle with that a lot. Like it really -- you know, cause I am a news reporter so like there're some things, but you have to weigh it,
Like even if it's a little shady just like in terms of like objective reporting, like, you kind of have to decide like what's important.
And like I said like it's not -- this is not weapons of mass destruction, you know. This is sled dog racing.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and eventually that -- that was the dog that was supposed to be sent out and it wasn’t?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, he was a dropped dog. Dorado. And he -- he was left out and buried.
There was a huge wind storm and he was buried and asphyxiated in the snow. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
EMILY SCHWING: And what came about from that was that the Iditarod realized that they weren’t caring for dogs as well as they could be.
And so they changed a lot of their policies on how they deal with dropped dogs and where they go and who's checking on them and vet care and things like that.
I still think that, you know, just from what I've heard that there's more that could be done. Which is, you know, yet another story to write.
But the other thing that is interesting about mushing is that even if there is a story that I want to tell, a lot of times race organizations are very self-conscious.
You know, they're worried about organizations like PETA and animal rights activists and, you know, 'cause there is like sort of like -- there are some people who really want to give mushing a bad reputation and so --
You know, I think the race organizations could make my job a lot easier by being more open.
And they know that I'm not there to burn them. You know, I'm certainly not -- I mean that would ruin my job too, right?
Like I'm not there to make enemies. I'm not necessarily there to make friends either, but --
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, in that example though you said they did come out with a press release.
EMILY SCHWING: They did. And then -- and I already had the story written. So as soon as the press release hit, I went with the story.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you were still able to do the story? EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: But by waiting?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah. Yeah. And it works for me because basically I just hit publish, you know, and then my story's filed and it's published and it's out there.
So I've done that quite a bit where I've known like -- like I knew hours in advance that Brent Sass had been disqualified this year, because I just so happened to be there -- standing there when he was talking to the race marshal.
And I was -- it was like a weird thing, because they hadn’t sent a press release out. They hadn’t announced it.
And I didn’t want to burn any bridges. But as soon as their press release went out -- like we hit send together.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I think things like that where it's obviously a race organization-related event. EMILY SCHWING: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: I can see, yeah, you have to wait.
EMILY SCHWING: You have to wait, KAREN BREWSTER: For the press to be -- ?
EMILY SCHWING: Yeah, yeah, you do and it's -- it sucks. Like sitting on your hands. Like staring at your computer screen being like publish it, publish it, you know.
Like I have this story I want to break. And like I was just sitting, like, in the school in Tanana being like I can’t believe I’m sitting on this ama -- like I was the only reporter there when it happened.
And that's happened more than once where -- I mean the biggest story that ever happened in my -- what I think is, you know, my career covering mushing was Hans Gatt retiring.
Hans Gatt nearly dieing two or three times on the Yukon Quest -- my first Quest and then retiring, you know. And there was nobody around.
All the other reporters were asleep. And I was sitting in the Eagle checkpoint and Brent Sass had rescued Hans Gatt off -- off Eagle Summit and -- or American Summit -- American Summit. And yeah, it was crazy.
And then we got into Central and he fell through the overflow chest deep and Dallas Seavey didn’t stop, but Sebastian Schnuelle did. And Hans came in and called it. He called his career.
And I picked up the pay phone and I called APRN and I called Dan Bross at KUAC and I was like run this story now.
And actually the race organization did get mad at me for that 'cause I broke it before they did.