Josh Cadzow’s dogs didn’t trust him.
About a kilometre and a half after he left Dawson on Friday morning, the leaders quit.
“No one believed in me,” said the 21-year-old Fort Yukon rookie.
Two days earlier, Cadzow ran out of dog food 160 kilometres before he got to Dawson.
“I was just giving them straight water,” he said.
“And going 16 hours with no food, just water - I don’t think they trust me after that.
“They are thinking, ‘Hey, this guy didn’t feed us. We’re not going to go for him if he did that to us.’”
Cadzow dropped two of his main leaders early in the race. When he left Dawson he only had two left.
Of those, one just didn’t want to lead anymore, he said. “And my main leader, he’s sore.”
The rest of the team kept overtaking the leader.
And although his young dogs wanted to go, none would take the lead.
“And when you got no leader you ain’t going nowhere,” said Cadzow.
“I pushed them to get here and I can’t push them no more.
“They didn’t have anymore life in them.”
Cadzow doesn’t blame his dogs.
“It’s my fault,” he said. “I blame myself for not packing right.”
The race takes twice as much dog food as he thought.
Four-time Iditarod champ Martin Buser’s in the same boat, said Cadzow.
“He’s never run a race where it’s 200 miles to the next checkpoint.”
Cadzow was “bummed.”
“They would have been so good,” he said.
“You work all year, and it comes down to this.”
Cadzow is heading home to “train harder.”
“Now I know what kind of dogs I need,” he added.
Instead of dogs that just trot along, Cadzow wants to raise “lopers - dogs that are always loping along the trail at a good speed.
“My dogs are tough and all, but they’re not fast,” he said.
Back in Fort Yukon, after Cadzow and his team fly home, he’s going to take the dogs on “happy runs” to get them out of their slump.
“They’re all good,” he said.
“It’s just their head is not good - they’re not into the race anymore.”
Cadzow loves the Quest.
“I want to keep going so bad, but I can’t,” he said.
But he plans to be back in the race in the next couple years.
“And when I get back in it, I’m going to get back in it to win,” he said. (Genesee Keevil)