I have felt honoured, no, privileged to be able to call Rick a friend. Rick has welcomed me into his home and kennel, freely sharing his secrets of dog training with me... Although don't try too hard to get me to share any as I did make a solemn promise to never divulge any of those secrets. Only he can do that, and this big hearted man does so freely while weaving them into the most amazing and fun stories.
When Rick enters a room his presence is large, and not because he is just over 6 feet tall, it is more to do with the way he commands the room.
Those of us lucky enough to have been with Rick when he shares his stories will completely understand.
Today I feel a deep sadness over having to put up this post.
I had been planning on following not only the Challenge and all the amazing mushers who will be running it, but was also going to be writing Rick's story. And to top it off, I was going to be hanging out with Dena, his incredible wife, and would get to follow the dogs that I have been lucky enough to run while helping Rick with his training.
Unexpected situations can happen to all of us. Life just happens.
Unfortunately for Rick the unexpected did happen.
Below is an e-mail he sent to me that I am to share with you.
To Rick, I hope that there will be more stories for you to share in the future. I look forward to hearing them all.
"Training was going so well until January and then the wind came and wrecked our home trail.
As much fun as traveling with the dogs to train can be, it's also exhausting when you have a full time job running a business.
So many times in the last 14 years, distance training in chinook country has been like pushing a boulder up a hill.
Why do I do it? For me its the dogs and the connection with these super athletes. And the stories...oh the stories...
It's hard for outsiders (non-distance mushers) to really understand the attraction to this money sucking, energy sucking sport, with it's months of training to go to even a single race. I think you have to actually do it to get it.
My messing up my shoulder was the final straw in a tough month. I will so miss the great people and the excitement at the Challenge this year. And of course the chance to be part of yet another story of the Challenge."
Photo Credt: Mike Forhan