Larry Daugherty, age 45 lives in Eagle River, AK with his wife Prairie and 5 kids (Bailey, Calvin, Azalea, Conrad and Charlie). The goal of his team is to inspire hope to Alaska. Hope for Alaska. Hope for our world. A world beyond Covid-19. Larry is a physician, a radiation oncologist at the Anchorage Radiation Oncology Center (AROC) and has seen first hand many of the impacts of Covid-19. Larry’s goal this year is mush the Covid-19 vaccine on the Iditarod Trail. He will be met by the Mayor of Shageluk at the checkpoint of Iditarod to “relay” the vaccine to the native villages. Larry’s team would like to thank the scientists who have made a cure possible, the race organizers who have made this unique race possible and the many sponsors who have come together to make the “Covid-19 Relay” a reality.
Hal Hanson, 42, was born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma and grew up on a ranch taking care of livestock. Hal took an interest in training animals at an early age and became a cow-horse trainer for his dad by the time he was 12. Working with horses became a passion and in 1999 he became a full time farrier. His farrier business took off due to his skill with horses and the business eventually grew to serve a five-state region around Oklahoma. By 2013 Hal was tired of 110-degree heat and decided to go north in search of cooler weather. Having always been intrigued by the immense challenge of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race he found himself in Alaska. He spent his first three years in Alaska training sprint dogs on the Yukon River learning from the locals. In 2017 he moved to the Kenai peninsula to learn long-distance mushing and found himself working for Mitch Seavey as a trainer.
I grew up half the year living in Fairbanks and half the year at my parent’s remote trap line cabin on the Porcupine River where we lived a subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping. My dad had sled dogs for running his trap line and this is where I got hooked on dog mushing! At the age of 7 I was following behind with a small dog team and as a teenager I dreamed of one day having my own race team. In high school I bought my very first sled dog and had my first litter of pups. As I completed college and my nursing degree I continued building my own kennel and started doing a few mid-distance races. In 2016 I finished my nursing degree and started working at Tanana Valley Clinic in the pediatric department and went on to work at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital inpatient pediatrics where I still work to this day! Over the past six years I’ve enjoyed competing in mid-distance races from Percy DeWolfe in Dawson to Kuskokwim 300 in Bethel. My dogs come from a mix of Mackey, Kleedehn and Cadzow lines and I’ve raised most of them since pups. My team and I are excited to finally get to see the Iditarod trail!
Who’s Brenda Mackey? This has become a funny tag line thanks to someone asking the question on a recent Iditarod forum after reading my name on the signup list. I come from a family of mushing Mackeys. I’m a third generation Mackey musher and the first woman in the family to pursue the mushing lifestyle and embark upon running the Iditarod. I currently own and operate Mackey’s Alaskan Distance Dogs, a competitive racing kennel, with my husband and kennel partner, Will Rhodes.
I began running and racing dogs, actually just one dog, at the age of three. His name was Fritz. Fritz was on my dad’s winning Iditarod team as a two-year old, but due to developing gastrointestinal issues from eating rocks in the summer months, followed by an extensive surgery, he was unable to race long-distance competitively and became my one-dogger for kid’s sprint races. Fritz, of course, became my first favorite dog.
When I was a kid my family lived an off-the-grid lifestyle at our homestead in Trapper Creek, Alaska. In 1990 we moved to Nenana, Alaska after my grandpa Dick suggested we move to the road system for easier access to supplies, the convenience of electricity, running water and the modern landline telephone. I chose to homeschool in order to devote as much time to being with the dogs as possible. We generally did not have dog handlers – we did all the daily basic dog farm chores and training as a family and I’ve kept with that style, operating my kennel with only the help of my husband and daughter for the past 10 years. I have always been passionate about breeding, raising and training dogs with the goal of creating high caliber athletes. I bred my first litter at the age of 13 and we maintain genetics of those dogs in our current bloodlines today. I started developing those yearling dogs the following winter. In 1997 my dad won the Yukon Quest. I was so inspired by having helped him train his team and develop two of his yearling finishers, that I signed up the following year. I finished the Quest at the age of 19 with a team of yearlings, borrowed dogs from family friends and some golden oldies from the family kennel.
In 2000 I met my husband, Will Rhodes, working as a sled dog tour guide on the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska. By 2002 we had accumulated 23 dogs together, but life took us in another direction with the birth of our daughter Isabel, and in 2003 we fully embraced finishing college and raising our daughter to the age where she would be old enough to take part in our dog mushing dreams. The first dogs Will and I bred together during the summer of 2001 are the primary foundation dogs of our kennel today. They are the parents or grandparents to most of the dogs we breed, train and race today; bred from generations of Iditarod, Yukon Quest and championship sprint dogs. We’ve bred and developed numerous competitive dog teams over the past 10 years with many successful mid-distance race finishes.
When I was five my dad asked me who I thought was going to win the Iditarod. I replied, “Rick Swenson” (I’ve always been direct). He laughed and said, “Nope, I’m going to.” My dad ended up winning that Iditarod, which helped instill a desire to chase that dream myself. Many thanks to the endless support of my husband Will, who works full-time year-round as well as being my training and racing partner; our 17- year old daughter, Isabel, who often keeps the home fires burning while we’re out with the dogs; my brother Roland and my parents Rick and Patti.
Joshua McNeal is competing in his first Iditarod. McNeal is a resident of Fairbanks. For more see crookedcreekmushing.com.
When I started mushing I was amazed by the ability, attitude and resilience of these dogs. As I started to push them and myself, I found depths of energy and strength that I never knew existed. Now I want to test my limits and see with my own eyes what these dogs are capable of.
Dakota Schlosser, 22, works as a diesel/heavy equipment mechanic for Knik Construction. He has been racing sled dogs for the last 17 years. He moved to Alaska from Wisconsin in 2012 and this is when he switched from Sprint racing to Distance racing. Dakota has a competitive race kennel that he has raised mostly from puppies. He competed in Jr Iditarod in 2014 & 2015, receiving 4th place finishes and Rookie of the Year. Last year, Dakota raced Alpine Creek 300, Kusko 300, Willow 300 and Tug Bar 150. He was honored to accept the Humanitarian award for the Alpine Creek 300 race. For those that know Dakota, they realize that Iditarod was a long time dream since he was 10 years old. This is the year that he is going to make it happen. He may be a wildcard, but anything is possible with his determination. You can follow Dakota at Sled Dog Systems Racing on Facebook for updates.
Brady “Chad” Stoddard, 33, was born in Anchorage Alaska. Chad moved away at a young age and grew up in the small island town of Friday Harbor, Washington. He grew up backpacking in the North Cascades with family and was an all-state basketball player in high school. After graduating from Western Washington University he moved back to Alaska and got his first job working with dogs for Alaska Icefield Expeditions. He now spends summers working with Gold Rush Dog Tours in Juneau. After his first summer with AIE he spent the next four years guiding tours in Wyoming for veteran Iditarod musher Billy Snodgrass and has also spent time in Petersburg, Alaska as a commercial fisherman. The desire to see both a challenging and rewarding lifestyle brought him to Fairbanks in May 2018 to help train and race dogs with four-time Quest and Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey. Since helping Lance, Chad has been committed to a young group of dogs which will make up the backbone of his team. He hopes the experiences that he and the dogs have overcome in both training and racing the last few years will help make for a strong run to Nome. Chad’s great-grandpa William Burk Sr. delivered mail around the time of the 1925 Serum Run and has family ties to Nenana. Chad says, “it would be a great privilege to travel the Iditarod trail and honor those dogs and mushers who have come before me. The love of the simple and strong life, the dogs, the challenge, the connection to the land and its people are what has brought me home to Alaska and Iditarod.”
I was born and raised in Meridian, Idaho. I moved to Alaska in 2008 to study Mathematics at the University of Alaska Southeast, where I also had the opportunity to experience mushing for the first time working the summers as a handler for Gold Rush Sled Dog Tours. As the allure of sled dogs became overwhelming, I dropped out of college to pursue a career in mushing. In 2013, I started my own team and shortly after began training with Shaynee Seipke and Howling Ridge Kennel. The following year she changed her name to Shaynee Traska. Together, we have raised all but one of the dogs in our kennel from birth and fulfill our dream of exploring the Alaskan wilderness with our team. I currently work as a manager for Alaska Icefield Expeditions on the Mendenhall Glacier, as well as doing landscaping and snow removal with Mainscape.
Will, 35 was born in Wyoming but raised in Alaska. He was honored to learn to mush and be mentored by Martin Buser in 2000 and 2001 when he ran his first Jr. Iditarod. Martin passed on the very highest standards of dog care which shaped Will’s mushing career. Will went on to handle for mushers all across Alaska with a brief four-year hiatus for college in between. Throughout his handling, Will ran multiple 300-mile races, scooped a lot of poop and developed his own sense and philosphy of mushing. In 2017 Will and his spouse Shawn moved to Two Rivers, AK, to start ATAO Kennel. ATAO stands for “Adventure, Truth, Accountability, Onward” which encompasses the ATAO philosophy. ATAO focuses on keeping a small kennel so that each dog gets maximum love and investment. Will has had 18 dogs in training for Iditarod: Annie, Aurora, Belle, Cassidy, Egret, Emmy, Furiosa, Lincoln, Marnie, Max, Mungry, Nala, Ophelia, Rebel, Rey,Rogue, Sundance and Zenyatta. Will is open about his long struggle with depression and mushes to show that you can do big things while coping with mental health issues. Will also happens to be a trans man and races particularly for LGBTQ + youth. The motto of ATAO Kennel is “Onward”.
I grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and have always been a lover of dogs and the outdoors. After graduating from college in 2015 I moved out West to build hiking trails with the Montana Conservation Corps. I began mushing in the Boundary Waters Wilderness of Minnesota in 2016 where I guided youth on winter camping expeditions for the Northern Tier High Adventure Scout Base and drove teams from the Chilly Dogs, a nearby kennel of retired racing dogs. In 2018 I moved to Alaska and have been here ever since! I have lived and worked with The Shameless Huskies, a small racing kennel in Willow, Alaska, owned by Kathleen Fredericks. Like most mushers, my life hasn’t been the same since I first stepped on the runners. I have wanted to run the Iditarod since coming to Alaska and have spent the past two winters with this goal in mind as I began competing in mid-distance races. I thrive in situations of true wilderness exploration, self-sufficiency and adventure, and I am so excited to be taking the dogs I have raised and trained for the two years.
Twenty-nine-year-old Sean Underwood was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and graduated from Georgia Southern University. The year after he finished college, he spent most of his time in Central and South America achieving fluency in Spanish through cultural immersion and getting to know his relatives throughout Chile. Sean came to Alaska in 2015 to stay with his Aunt, Uncle, and cousin, and commercial fish for sockeye salmon with them on Kodiak Island. After spending two consecutive summers living off the grid and eating delicious fish in the beautiful country, he was interested in trying out a winter in Alaska. His Aunt and Uncle put him in touch with their friend Jeff King, and Sean was hired to be part of the Husky Homestead crew in the fall of 2016. He now lives and trains in Talkeetna, Alaska.
Sean’s race history includes the 2016 Alpine Creek Excursions Race, 2017 Tustumena 200, 2018 Copper Basin 300, 2020 Yukon Quest 300, and the 2020 Goose Bay 150 Dog Sled Race.
Sean Williams is competing in his first Iditarod. Williams is a resident of Chugiak. For more see alaskamushingschool.com.
Information courtesy of the Iditarod Trail Committee and iditarod.com