Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Iditarod Preview: Ramey Smyth

IDITAROD: Aging lead dog is Ramey Smyth's ace in the hole.

For eons, men have gone to pieces over babes.

But how many have fallen apart at the mere mention of a geriatric Babe, a four-legged Babe who can outlast a ground blizzard, a Babe who knows her way to Nome better than most babes know the way to a designer clothing store.

Yet there was Ramey Smyth of Willow at the podium of the Iditarod finishers banquet in Nome last March, unable to speak because his 10-year-old lead dog Babe had just earned the Lolly Medley Golden Harness Award, which is named after Smyth's mother, who used to sew the golden harnesses herself.

Choked up, Smyth tried to compose himself but left the podium without uttering a word. Moments later, carrying Babe adorned in her Golden Harness, the Willow musher returned.

"Receiving this award," he said, holding the microphone in his right hand, "is more I think than winning the Iditarod will ever be. This dog has kept me out of the poor house. She's paid the mortgage and put food on the table -- and I'm not joking."

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