The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

New snow inspires mushers


Courtesy photo

Ashley Guernsey with her leaders Sophie and Spot after the Jr. Willow 100.

The 37th running of the Jr. Iditarod, starting this Saturday from the shores of Knik Lake, sets the stage for the full blown Iditarod the following weekend. Last year's defending champion, Conway Seavey, was upset by a team of Dallas Seavey's dogs driven by junior musher Noah Pereira. This no doubt gives the older Seaveys, Dallas and Mitch, some more grist for smack talking on cable television. But Dan Seavey says that Conway, 17, is again the favorite to recapture the crown for the 150 mile race.

Also running a team of her dogs and Rick Tarpey's dogs in the Jr. Iditarod is Moose Pass' Ashley Guernsey. Guernsey, 14, will be the youngest musher in the race this year with a team headed up by her lead dog, Sophie. Rick Tarpey says that training has required more travel than they would've liked, especially after the meltdown starting around New Year's. Because of lack of snow, a training opportunity with the Tustumena 100 and 200 was lost when the races were cancelled.

However, after putting in some miles on the runners in the Sterling area, the teenager sponsored by the Seward Iditarod Trailblazers is expected to be a aggressive competitor. She might even give Conway a run for the top spot. The junior musher will all carry GPS trackers that allow visitors at to follow their progress starting at 10 a.m. Feb. 22. The youths are expected to all cross the finish line at Willow Lake on Sunday.

Together with Conway, there will be a total of four Seaveys running Iditarod races this winter. Another Seavey, Danny, was drafted as a substitute after musher Matt Giblin was injured in training.

Joining the Seaveys in the big race will be Seward's Travis Beals of Turning Heads Kennels for his second consecutive Iditarod race. Last year, Beals says he was getting a feel for the trail and letting his dogs get familiar with the route and gain experience.

Beals is gearing up for a more competitive race with a new race sled. He says that he's never had a brand new sled before and the sled he used last year was heavy and hard to steer. With two competitions under his belt this winter, including a fifth place finish in the Copper Basin 300 race, Beals is ready for his next 1,000 mile run to Nome.


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