March 21, 2003


Dear Karen Ramstead,


We are the 6B class writing to you from Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, in Okotoks. We were sorry that you scratched this year’s race but we feel that you made the right decision. You have helped us understand more about the Last Great Race and how our decisions affect our life and others’, in many ways. We believe you have many of the qualities of an adventurer; some of these are intelligent, brave, methodical thinker and a risk- taker. These qualities stand out in you, Karen. We admire your sense of adventure.


This is you, Karen!



Our class was tracking several mushers. We made markers and moved them along the wall map as you mushed down the trail. We researched about the history of the Iditarod, saw some photographs our teacher took when in Alaska last summer, and investigated our own questions, like: “What does it take to be a musher?” “What does it take to prepare for an Iditarod Race?” We wrote e-mails to each checkpoint and loved the auto-responses. We did “musher math” where we recorded information about mushers and the race. With this information we calculated different problems like speed, distance, and time. You were very consistent, Karen!


By following the Iditarod race, we learned that winning is not everything. We know it is a great honor and accomplishment just to finish the Last Great Race. This is why we are congratulating you and your dogs on doing an amazing job. We know you were not able to finish the race but your heart was in it and scratching was just one of the many decisions you had to make. It was probably the hardest one. We know you won the Red Lantern Award two years ago and we are confident that you will be back another year, having tasted “success” that way!


We noticed some good strategies you used this year. We think it was a good idea to take a 24-hour sop at about half way. Did you plan out your strategies, or did you decide along the way? From the speed and progress you made, we know that your strategies were successful. How are you and your dogs doing? We are sure that they were great for you on the trail. Did you do much running yourself? We learned that you got food poisoning and burned your hand. We are sorry that you encountered these struggles. What were some of the other troubles you encountered on the trail?


We learned about the terrain of the course while tracking your progress. We were amazed at how many times the trail was changed this year! We discovered that there are many obstacles to overcome, and lots of animals and other things that might disturb your team while out there. We learned that hallucinations occur when you have a lack of sleep, which usually happens to mushers. We hope that nothing came in your path that threatened you or the dogs. Did you mainly drop your dogs because it was your strategy or was it because of the very different trail this year? We are all interested in knowing the answers to these questions!

Some of the questions we generated, to help us better understand how our decisions contribute to who we are.



Karen, thank you for helping us to better understand the process of decision-making. By following you and your progress during the 2003 Iditarod Race, we learned so much. We admire your qualities of an adventurer and that you had the mental strength to scratch, even though it was a very difficult decision to make. You helped us better understand ourselves and that the decisions we make reflect who we are.


We do hope you will be able to come visit us after you have recuperated! Both the grade six classes of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School followed your, and others’, progress this year. We would love to have the opportunity to see you, your dogs (maybe Chester?) and to be able to hear, first hand, about your strategies and decisions you had to make this year.


Congratulations, Karen, on persevering with a challenging task and making good decisions, no matter hard they were. We admire your strength and sense of adventure and look forward to seeing you in the starting line up next year!



6B Class

Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School

Okotoks, Alberta