Before I won my first Iditarod, I was trying very hard to do so. And I had a very fast team, well conditioned, well-trained. But I kept coming in second in more races than I care to remember. Clearly, some essential element was missing. I feel it was the winning spirit and vision. I would often finish in a race an hour or a minute or a split second behind someone else, but I’d have the strongest and fastest team. So in 1986, I learned how to pull it all together. I told myself that not only could I win, but that I deserved to win. And that I could win today. I knew before that I “someday” would win the Iditarod, but I didn’t see myself as a winner today. So I kept on failing. In 1986, I lived and breathed the vision of winning the Iditarod for the full year. And I held it 11 days into the Iditarod, where I was neck and neck with Joe Garnie, 44 miles from the finish line. I had less than 20 hours of sleep in 11 days. I had run up every hill between Anchorage and Nome. But Joe made a final push and passed me, gaining a two-minute lead. I was exhausted and demoralized, and said to myself, “Well, I guess second place isn’t too bad.” But then through the blur of fatigue, I remembered the vision of myself winning the 1986 Iditarod, and I knew this race could be mine alone. And so for the next 44 miles, I ran, pumped with one leg or pushed until I passed Joe and won my first Iditarod.