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Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Leave it to the Jamaicans to do it again.

Newton Marshall, a 27 year old tour guide, is trying to be come the first black man to complete in the Iditarod.

Three things stand out here to me.

That anyone should want to compete (never mind complete) in a race that requires participants to ride a dog sled through some of the most remote areas of Alaska's wilderness in late winter is admirable to say the least.

That a black dude from a nation where many are descendants of slaves should want to do it is very cool in my book. African Americans have been tearing down some incredible glass ceilings recently, most notably one in D.C. (I'm still waiting for a woman to do the same. Sigh.)

But what really stands out here is -- Marshall hails from tropical Jamaica, where not a single flake of snow has ever made landfall.

Everybody knows about the Jamaican bobsled team, whose exploits inspired the film Cool Runnings.

Last month Jamaica sent Errol Kerr to the Olympics. 

Both of these sports, however, pale in comparison when it comes to the sheer grit that it takes to finish the 1,150 mile course through desolate frozen country.

Marshall thinks he's got it. The idea hatched when his boss asked him to train dogs to pull sleds over sand dunes. Snow wasn't far behind.

Even if he doesn't make it all the way, Marshall, and in a sense once again the Jamaicans, have showed us all something about the pursuit of the crazy impossible.

Mush, Newton, mush. A lot of us with crazy dreams are with you.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

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