Part 2, Days 8-17 Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

"The Race—Day 8"

The race progresses to the barren interior of Alaska. The tundra is endless and unchanging and Paulsen's lead dog, Wilson, literally begins to fall asleep on his feet, mid-run. The musher discovers that if he softly calls out "Willy" when he sees the dog weaving a bit, he can keep him on track. When a fellow racer later comments that twice during the night, he had been passed by a person who was looking for someone named Willy, Paulsen, realizing the ludicrousness of his situation, does not even try to explain.

"The Race—Day 9"

In the "ghost town of Iditarod," Paulsen is accosted by a man who disembarks from a plane. There is a muzzled, female wolf in the aircraft; the man wants to mate her with one of Paulsen's dogs. The author passes on the offer when the man reveals that the wolf had killed the three male dogs he had tried to breed her with previously.

"The Race—Day 10"

The wind on the run up the Yukon Valley is so chilling that Paulsen turns backward on the sled to avoid its bite, with little avail. The dogs, however, seem to be doing fine and, as there is no place to stop, the team must forge ahead through the "cursed, cutting, tearing, soul-cold wind."

"The Race—Day 11"

The unforgiving weather continues and Paulsen must run beside the sled to keep his body temperature up. The raw air freezes the lining of his throat and he finds himself choking on blood and mucus. When he finally reaches the village at the end of the valley, Paulsen sees a graveyard and feels the ghosts of the dead welcoming him. Their call is gentle and he smiles at them as he heads away from the river out to the Bering Sea.

"The Race—Day 12"

The run from the river to the sea is classic and Paulsen feels that he has entered an altered state, where he is in complete harmony with his dogs. He feels that they can run forever this way, and he knows with certainty now that they will finish the race. The team comes to an Eskimo village and Paulsen is taken in by one of the residents, an older man, for the night. As he falls asleep, he realizes that his host looks like the man who saved him in his hallucinations, first when he was sick and later on in the Burn.

"The Race—Day 13"

Paulsen is two hundred miles from the finish line when the race officially ends. Although he knows that the winner has been declared and the celebration has begun, he does not care. Paulsen is consumed with the beauty that surrounds him and the exhilaration of running with his team. Winning or losing does not matter as he slides gleefully down the final hills toward the ice of the Norton Sound.

"The Race—Day 14"

Rumors abound about disasters met by people crossing the treacherous Sound. Though most of them are unfounded, Paulsen knows that this part of the trek is dangerous and he approaches the ice with trepidation.

"The Race—Day 15"

In reality, the run across the ice is easy: the wind abates, the sun comes out, and the dogs are in their element. When evening falls, Paulsen stays at the house of a family in a village. Though the residents are kind, he finds that he is not comfortable being among people again. During the night, he goes back out to his dogs and sleeps among them on the ice, reveling...

(This entire section contains 781 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

in his oneness with them.

"The Race—Days 16-17"

The dogs sense that the end of the race is near and run with renewed purpose. The lights of Nome appear in the distance, and Paulsen is about twenty miles away from his destination when he suddenly stops his team; he does not want the race to end.

Paulsen reflects on the enormous challenge of the Iditarod and the amazing beauty, joy, and exaltation that imbues the race; he wants it to go on and on. With the finish in sight, he actually considers turning his team and going back to "the center of the world where it was only the dogs and only [himself]," but he is roused from his reverie by the call of his wife, who has come out in a Jeep to meet him. Her voice breaks the spell that momentarily possessed him. Paulsen gets into the sled again and runs with his team to the finish line; once there, he hugs his wife and son, and then the dogs, one by one.

Paulsen knows that one day, he will return to run the Iditarod again.


Part 2, Days 1-7 Summary