Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist


The Woman Who Won Man's Toughest Race
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The Woman Who Won Man's Toughest Race

Daily Mail 22nd March 1985

OUT in the frozen wasteland that God forgot, a woman stood king last night. Libby Riddles, blonde, blue-eyed but tough as steel, had won the most punishing and macho race in the world.

In 17 days she drove a dog team a nd sled across 1,135 miles of Alaska
and through some of the cruelest terrain in the world. She had triumphed in the last great endurance race. She had conquered the Iditorod Trail that leads, via vicious winds, white-outs and temperatures that have hit 100P below, from Anchorage to Nome, a village looking out over the Bering Sea towards Russia, Exhausted.

Libby, 28, is the first woman to win the race, and her first, act after hitting the finishing line was to hug the 13 wild-eyed husky dogs that had hauled her there.
'Already they want to make a TV movie,' she said down a crackling telephone line from Nome.
'And all I want to do is feel wonderful about winning. I still can't believe it.
'I really worked out there to keep the dogs happy and healthy. I had to make them want to go on.

When we crossed the finishing line I was happy—happy we could slow down and that I could relax in the shower.
'At times I never thought I would never have the chance of a shower again.'
Cold and exhausted, she faced the treacherous Norton Sound ice pack earlier this week with 123 miles still to go.
At that stage things looked pretty impossible, she recalled. 'You couldn't make out the trail. You couldn't tell one marker from another.
'I was crazy to go on with the weather being so bad but I kept telling myself that I had a chance.
'Now I'm sitting on top of the world.'
Libby, from the village of Teller near Nome, takes more than £50,000 in prize money.

She was three hours ahead of her nearest" rival and strung out behind him were 17 other men who share £200,000 in prizes.

Libby was 18th in the race in 1980 and 20th a year later.
Her winning time was five days short of the record set by Iditarod veteran Rick Swenson but it did break a lot of hearts.
'I suppose we've always been more chauvinistic than most,' said Duane Halverson, who came second.
'It sure hurts when a young girl is going ahead of you. But it doesn't hurt for long because she sure is determined.'

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