Iditarod XLI: The Rookies

I haven’t mentioned the rookies in this year’s race. There’s quite a large group of them. Here’s a rundown of who they are and where they’re currently at in the race.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, currently in 7th place in Anvik with 14 dogs. Two dogs dropped. Ulsom is the most experienced of the rookies in this year’s race and its showing. He’s running a fabulous race and is in the top-ten. A 26-year-old from Roros, Norway, Ulsom placed first in the 2012 Chukotka Spring Championship and sixth in the 2012 Yukon Quest. He has also raced in the Finmarkslopet, the Femundlopet, and the Amundsen Races in Scandinavia. He is part of Racing Beringia, a free online education program that explores the history of dog sledding around the world.

Josh Cadzow, currently in 23rd place in Shageluk with 12 dogs. Cadzow is running a respectable race, but he’s dropped four dogs so far. An Athabascan from Fort Yukon, AK, the 25-year-old has been running dogs since he was a child.

Richie Diehl, currently in 43rd place in Iditarod with 14 dogs. Two dogs dropped. A pilot with a degree in aviation technology, Diehl, 27,  was born and raised in Aniak, AK.

Paige Drobny, currently in 44th place in Iditarod with 12 dogs. Drobny has also dropped four dogs. The 38-year-old was born in Pennsylvania and now lives in Fairbanks, AK, with her husband, Cody Strathe, who is also a musher. They own a dogsled company called DogPaddle Designs.

Mike Ellis, currently in 45th place between Ophir and Iditarod with 13 dogs. Ellis has dropped three dogs. Ellis, 42, was born in Massachusetts. He is running a team of purebred Siberian Huskies in this year’s Iditarod. He and his wife, Sue, live in Two Rivers, AK, and own a kennel there.

Travis Beals, currenly in 47th place between Ophir and Iditarod with 15 dogs. One dog dropped. At 21, Beals is the youngest musher in this year’s race. He was born and raised in Seward, AK. He placed 2nd in the 2009 Jr. Iditarod.

Charley Bejna, currently in 51st place between Ophir and Iditarod with 15 dogs. No dogs dropped. Bejna is 39 and lives in Addison, IL, where he owns a landscaping company. He became interested in Alaska in the 1990s after a trip there with his father. In 2007, he was Bruce Linton’s Idita-rider, and in 2011 he became G.B. Jones’s dog handler and tag sled driver.

Mikhail Telpin, currently in 52nd place between Ophir and Iditarod with 12 dogs. Telpin started with 12 dogs, so he hasn’t dropped any. However, he is the only musher who has yet to take his 24-hour mandatory rest. Telpin, 59,  is part of Racing Beringia. He is from Chukotka, Russia, where he has mushed since he was a child, following the trails of his ancestors. He is racing a distinctive-looking team of Chukchi dogs in this year’s Iditarod.

Louie Ambrose, currently in 54th place between Ophir and Iditarod with 14 dogs. He has dropped two dogs. Ambrose, 42, is an Athabascan born in Tanana and raised in Galena. He now lives in St. Michael, AK, and is married to Jerrine, who is the daughter of the late Iditarod veteran Jerry Austin.

Luan Ramos Marques, currently in 56th place between Ophir and Iditarod with 16 dogs. Marques, 22, is from Macae, Brazil, where he owns his own pet shop, Eu Curto Cuida Pet Shop.

Christine Roalofs, currently in 60th place in Ophir with 16 dogs. No dogs dropped. Born in Ohio and raised in Louisville, KY, Roalofs, 48, now lives in Anchorage, where she owns her own dental practice. She got hooked on mushing after working as an Iditarod volunteer for several years.

Cindy Abbott, currently in 61st place between Takotna and Ophir with 14 dogs. Abbott started out with 14 dogs, so she hasn’t dropped any. Abbott, 54, is a professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton. She lives in Irvine, CA with her husband, Larry, and daughter, Teshia. She is into extreme sports, including extreme scuba diving and mountain climbing. After being diagnosed in 2007 with a rare disease called Wegner’s Granulomatosis, she was determined to fulfill her dream of climbing to the top of Mt. Everest, which she did in 2010. In 2011, she began training with Lance Mackey. After completing some mid-distance races in 2012, she was ready for this year’s Iditarod.

James Volek, currently in 62nd place in Takotna with 16 dogs. Taking his 24-hour break. No dogs dropped. Currently carrying the Red Lantern. Volek, 24, hails from Michigan. In 2011, he spent a summer as a handler for Alaskan Icefield Expeditions near Juneau, and that got him into mushing. He moved to Big Lake, AK, that fall to become a handler for Martin Buser. He is running a team of Buser’s yearlings in this year’s Iditarod.

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