Young mushers: meet Iditarod's next generation
It’s rare to find a musher in the front of the pack younger than 30.
But towards the back — you'll find one who hasn’t even hit his 20s, and another just barely out of college. They're taking on the longest dog sled race in the world, and they’ve both had some help along the way.
Andrew Nolan, of Wasilla, recently turned 18, making him the youngest musher in the 2018 Iditarod race. The former Junior Iditarod champion says his dogs are still getting used to running a 1,000-mile race, rather than a 150-mile one.
Nolan is borrowing Canadian musher Michelle Phillips’ sled after his cracked on the trail.
"I just pulled into Takotna and said 'I needed a sled,' and they pushed it out said I could take it," Nolan said. "Hopefully she’s not mad at the end."
The sled is quite the upgrade from the one he had before.
"I'd better be careful," Nolan chuckled.
Meanwhile, rookie musher Meredith Mapes, of Palmer, is carrying some of the booties her former classmates made for her a year and a half ago.
"Some of them said 'Go, Meredith,' and 'Keep going on!'" the recent college grad said. "It gives me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling that some of my classmates and friends are, at least a part of them is on the trail with me."
Both young mushers say they are just trying to make it to the finish line.
"The hills were never-ending. It just kept going on and on. Yeah, it was not fun," Mapes said as she pulled in to Shageluk. "I just want to be done, just have it all over, behind me."
"Anything could happen," said Nolan at the same checkpoint.
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