2006 Articles

Don Duncan, 2007 Serum Run Musher

Don Duncan – 2007 Serum Run Musher

It’s all about the dogs….

I live in Indianola Washington, a sleepy, but rapidly growing community west of Seattle on Puget Sound. Employed as a Marine Engineer for Washington State Ferries I live the best of two worlds, dogs and boats. I have a maritime job, but rather then spend months at sea; I go home every day to my family of 19 Samoyeds.

I got my first Samoyed in 1985 and began recreational mushing about 1987. The below answer to one of the Serum Run Application questions can best put into perspective my affection for, and life with Samoyeds.

Why do you want to participate in the 2007 Serum Run?

The opportunity to get to know a true Polar Explorer, Norman Vaughan, was a major attraction to the Serum Run. Sadly, that is no longer possible.

When I was about 8 years old and waiting for the main feature of a weekend matinee to start, a short clip of Antarctica was shown. Scenes of frosty Snow Cats illuminated by magnesium flares, hoar breath of chilled personnel shouting above a roaring gale, and a sense of bitter cold etched themselves into my imagination. I was captivated.

I celebrated my 20th birthday stationed onboard the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Glacier, and spent two seasons in Antarctica. A decade later my first Samoyed inspired me to read the breed’s history and I learned of their use during the Expedition era. Wanting to know more, I read many accounts of the early explorers. I wish I could return to those years of my youth and experience the Antarctic vastness again with knowledge and appreciation of those who came before me.

I fell in love with the Samoyed long before mushing became my lifestyle. It was the intrepid Samoyed that hauled the loads of Nansen and Jackson through grueling Arctic conditions. Paying homage to those hearty dogs is the reason I have continued beyond the occasional winter snow excursion to competing in mid distance races with Samoyed teams. Doing the Serum run with an all Samoyed team would be the ultimate tribute to those heroic fallen dogs of the expedition era.

Anyone with sled dogs must know of the Iditarod trail, its many challenges and wonders. It would be an honor and life’s accomplishment to travel the historic route of 1925. Visiting the villages and sharing the fluffy white Samoyed with the children is irresistible.

Over the past years I have ridden a rollercoaster of emotions with the dogs. From spiritual starry night runs, to bidding farewell as beloved old friends come to their final days. For all its up and downs, this is a ride I would choose over and over again. It’s all about the dogs!!!!

Photo by Paul Martin

For more information on the Norman Vaughn Serum Run “25” or to follow the event go to: http://www.serumrun.org/index.html