Running North: A Yukon Adventure Paperback – Jan 11 1999
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Alaska is more than just the largest state in the Union; it's also a state of mind, as Ann Mariah Cook found out. Together with her husband, 3-year-old daughter, and 32 purebred Siberian huskies, she moved there from New Hampshire in order to train for the legendary Yukon Quest, the most rigorous sled-dog race in the world. Her tough, thoughtful memoir, Running North, chronicles the ordeals as well as the rewards of their mushers' life. In the course of their transformation from cheechakos, or greenhorns, to sourdoughs, or seasoned Alaskans, Cook and her husband learned to defend themselves and their dogs from extreme weather, adapted to mushing in Alaskan conditions, and even absorbed the niceties of Yukon social customs (hint: always put on a pot of coffee for visitors). The book ends with a harrowing account of the race, complete with packs of wolves, howling blizzards, minus-60-degree temperatures, and a few narrow escapes. But this is as much Ann's story as it is her husband's, and as a result it goes far beyond the confines of a simple adventure story. Full of intriguing glimpses into sled-dog (and musher) psychology as well as lyrical observations about the beauty of the Yukon landscape, Running North is as much concerned with the who and why of adventure as with its how and when. Leaving behind the comfort and security of Cook's New England life required a multitude of adjustments, from the design of the dogs' booties to a new appreciation of interior decorating, Alaska-style. In the end, however, it was going home that proved hard: "Returning to New Hampshire, I saw my life as a stranger might view it. I could not get used to so many houses, so many neighbors, so many social demands. Everything in my life had been redefined in only seven and a half months." --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In the world of sled-dog racing only three long-distance courses count: the Iditarod, the Alpirod and the Yukon Quest. The last is dubbed "a thousand miles of Hell" for its 1000-mile course across moutainous Alaskan terrain, its requirement that mushers pack every necessity at the start and the fact that there are only six checkpoints in 16 days, leaving entrants alone and unaccounted for over vast stretches of wild, icy land. In 1992, amateur racer George Cook took on the Quest, with Ann Mariah, his childhood sweetheart and wife, serving as his handler. This is her fast-clipped account of their seven-month Alaskan sojourn, most of which was spent in a small town outside Fairbanks, Alaska, where they forged a home/training camp for their three-year-old daughter, a college graduate niece and the 32 Siberian huskies they brought with them. Considered inferior sled dogs by Alaskans, the huskies are among the book's most intriguing characters. Cook strikes a smart balance between reports of George's training with sketches of her own experiences as support staff. The book hits its stride when explaining their exacting logistical preparation. From frozen lamb cubes and salmon jerky to the best style of dog booties and clothing items like parkys and muklaks, the details are precise and absorbing. Cook doesn't bring the same vitality to her descriptions of, or reflections on, the Alaskan wilderness, but she successfully captures the social idiosyncrasies of her diverse cast. From Sten, a neighbor whose failed Quest attempt haunts him still, to Martha, an Alaskan who sews exquisite mitts and wastes nothing of her beaver pelts, the state's hale souls appear as particular as the untamed land they've claimed for home.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've read other books about dog mushing, but this one had the unique point of view of a woman who, while not actually on the sled during the race, experienced her own Yukon Quest experience. She writes clearly and honestly, not shying away from the disagreement that she had with the young woman they brought with them to act as the official "handler" of the dogs. She writes about George's experience on the trail, his frostbite, fatigue, narrow escapes and indomitable spirit as he pitted himself against natural forces over which he had little control. She writes about the dogs, their personalities and backgrounds and about the tough choices she and George had to make when it came time to pick the actual team of 12 out of their much larger group. She writes about the people they meet along the way, her Alaskan neighbors, fisherman, storekeepers and the other mushers. And she writes about Alaska itself, making me yearn to experience its beauty and majesty.
There was one small line drawing of the Yukon Quest trail and I kept returning to it again and again as the book moved along and the tension mounted. There is also a photo of Ms. Cook and one of her dogs on the back cover. I wish there were more photos, but I didn't really need them because her descriptions were so clear. Recommended.
Ann is understandably wrapped up in the mom thing with 3 year old daughter Katherine. At the same time Ann adapts to Alaskan musher culture, cares for her dogs, and preps husband George's provisions, all the while trying to puzzle out handler, cousin Sandy's behavior changes. There is so much sled dog lore that barely gets touched on. The book is a page turner once the race actually gets on. Ann could have made the book twice as long, because she does such a good job with what she chooses to write about. She needed to tie up loose ends. The only thing that drags is her apparent cluelessness about Sandy.
I checked the Yukon Quest website, and the Cooks didn't make the "most helpful" or the "best dog treater" for the year that George and their pack raced. But it verifies that they were in the race and certain things did happen.
Most recent customer reviews
Running North is an excellent book for anyone interested in Alaska or mushing. Ann Mariah Cook captures the feel for Alaska and dog sledding perfectly. Read morePublished on June 4 2003
This book was one of the greatest ones I have ever read. I race sled dogs, and I found it so interesting...I could and have felt everything they go through. Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2000 by Laura
What a pleasant surprise to read a literary and exciting story of Alaska and dog-racing. Thoroughly enjoyable. I totally recommend this book to all adventure lovers.Published on Dec 25 1999
Fascinating details of the "Cook Team" in the greuling Yukon Quest are revealed in this book. Read morePublished on Dec 12 1999 by A. Heusser
A wonderfully written account of mushing in Alaska with adventure in the bitter cold, warm human relationships and touching insights into the devotion and love given by dogs to... Read morePublished on Nov. 25 1999 by Peter Hildt
A beautiful story of a family's devotion to each other to accomplish their goal. It's obvious from the attitudes put forward by the author that the well being of their dogs &... Read morePublished on Sept. 5 1999 by Woodman
The book was well written but gave little in perspective from the point view of the person who endured the actual event. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 1999
loved this book. cant start another one until i have time to think this one over.Published on Feb. 10 1999