17 journeys for 17 Iditarod rookies

first_imgSled builder Cody Strathe explains the braking systems on one of his sleds.The vast majority of mushers driving dog teams in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race are veterans.The field of rookies is small and their goals are varied, but they’re all taking cues from seasoned veterans.There are only 17 rookies competing in this year’s Iditarod. Many aim simply to finish, but for a few, claiming ‘Rookie of the Year’ status is something to shoot for.“It’s just something fun to compete for,” Cody Strathe, of Fairbanks, said. “This is the only time I’ll be a rookie in a race for a really long time, so it’s just really fun to have that little goal.”Strathe has seen parts of the trail from the air and by snow machine. He’s also visited many of the checkpoints during past races.“I’ve got a wife that tells me all kinds of stories,” he said.“First thing I wake up in the morning, I’m like ok, when you go by here, this is a good place to camp and I’m sure I’ve totally overfilled his head with stuff,” Strathe’s wife, Paige Drobny, said.Cody Strathe’s leaders wore eye protection for the Sunday restart. (Photo by Ben Matheson / Alaska Public Media.)She has completed three previous Iditarods. She’s handed over her experienced leaders and the most competitive team dogs in their kennel.“I just want Cody to have a really good run and I think he has the team to do it,” she said.Tim Pappas has also gotten some solid advice from a qualified veteran. He’s training a team of puppies for long-time musher and four-time Champion, Martin Buser.“I have a really young team so I’m going to be giving them a lot more rest than a lot of the other dog teams, so we just have to get to the end,” Pappas said. “That’s all that really matters.”Tom Jamgochian has a similar feeling.“Yeah well, I’ll be travelling with 16 best friends, so I’m just going to keep them happy and do my best to have fun on the trail,” he said.Cody Strathe is running his first Iditarod. (Photo by Ben Matheson / Alaska Public Media)Jamgochian says he hasn’t even thought about what it might be like to cross under the burled arch in his hometown, Nome.“That’s a million miles away at this point,” Jamgochian said.Jamgochian spent most of the winter away from his home and family to train his team in Nenana. But he was taking cues from long-time veteran Aaron Burmeister, so like many rookies before him, he just might find out he has the mushing experience to surprise even himself.last_img

Leave a Reply