Jaye Foucher may not be participating in Iditarod 51, but she has another goal in mind
WILLOW, Alaska (KTUU) - A moment in the lead-up to last year’s Iditarod has continued to play on repeat in Jaye Foucher’s head.
“I flashback to it a lot,” Foucher said.
Foucher witnessed the moment that a truck collided with the front six dogs of her sled dog team — a moment she will likely never forget.
“It’s kind of a, you know, before and after moment where life just became very, very changed for me after the fact,” Foucher said.
Foucher’s two-year-old lead dog was killed in the crash, and three other dogs — Kona, Felicity and Flint — were also injured. Her dog Felicity, took days to return home after she ran off.
The crash happened weeks before Foucher was getting ready to compete in her first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which has been a dream of hers since she started mushing back in 2002.
“Last year was supposed to be the year,” Foucher said.
In April, Foucher returned back to her New England home before traveling back to Alaska later that year to begin training for the 2023 Iditarod. In October, she announced that she was withdrawing from the race due to continued struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder from to the crash.
Foucher’s two-decade-old dream and her dogs, who she raised and who she considers to be her family, continue to push toward that goal of someday crossing the Iditarod finish line in Nome.
However, her journey getting there is not a sprint but a marathon, just like the Iditarod.
“I don’t want to try it next season,” Foucher said. “I want to have a season where I go back and do like the UP 200, or the Beargrease, just some of the other longer mid-distance races.”
Since the incident, Foucher and her team have slowly been recovering. Today, she says all three of her dogs who were injured are back out and running.
“They’ve made a really remarkable recovery, beyond my wildest hopes,” Foucher said. “The three dogs that were the most seriously injured are all three back running and harnessed this season. Even the one whose pelvic was broken in five places.”
Although physically her team has healed a lot, both for her and the dogs, recovering mentally will be an ongoing process.
“They’ll still you know, occasionally, if a huge truck gets a little too close, they’ll kind of shy away and get skittish about it,” Foucher said.
Foucher said she plans on taking the 2024 Iditarod season off. Hoping to use a full year to continue recovering.
“Have a season where I am not battling hopefully quite so much anxiety as I have been this year,” Foucher said.
She continues eyeing the finish line in Nome, hoping that Iditarod 2025, will be the one where she finally makes her over two-decades-long dream a reality.
Copyright 2023 KTUU. All rights reserved.