Katherine
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2016

Katherine, 37, was born in Minnesota and lived there until completing high school at which point Katherine decided that it was time to pursue her dream of going to Alaska. She graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 2008 with a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering. She had always dreamed of flying a bush plane, eating caribou, running dogs, and having a camp in the Brooks Range. She went to Kotzebue to handle dogs and has lived there off and on ever since. Katherine began racing dogs in 2011 and soon realized that Iditarod was on the horizon. So she began competing in the races she needed to qualify for the 2014 Iditarod.

Katherine and John Baker raise and train over 50 dogs in Kotzebue, Alaska as they focus on having the best dog kennel in the world. Katherine and John also own a number of small businesses including Remote Solutions, LLC which allows them to professionally help meet the needs of rural Alaska. Katherine is an Ironman Triathlete and hopes to soon qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She is also a proud parent of Amelia who is 13 years old.

Mary Helwig, 32, was born in Virginia. She says she always loved and wanted to work with dogs, but growing up in southern California, mushing never crossed her mind. After her 2006 graduation from North Park University in Chicago with a B.A. in Psychology, she moved to Alaska to work for the Christian non-profit organization, Covenant Youth of Alaska (CYAK.org). She moved to Unalakleet to work as a youth leader in the local church during the winters and head cook at the Covenant Bible Camp 10 miles upriver during the summers. She also spent many weekends in the villages on the coast from Unalaklet to Nome cooking for youth retreats and working with the local youth. “I had my first experience on a sled during a short women’s dog sled race put on by the Norton Sound Sled Dog Club. I was instantly hooked. After moving from Unalakleet, I worked as a part time handler for Jonrowe Racing Kennel to explore my interest. In 2011, I moved back to Unalakleet to work for Siku Kennel and 2010 Iditarod musher William ‘Middy’ Johnson. I ran my first mid-distance race that season (the Portage 200) and I knew I was all in. I formed my own team in 2013 and am thrilled to be running Iditarod with my own dogs, seven of which I bred and raised myself. Even though I lost my home and nearly all my belongings in the Sockeye wildfire, I am determined to run my first Iditarod in 2016. I am looking forward to mushing ‘home’ to Unalakleet and greeting my friends from there to Nome.” For the last three years, Mary has worked as a Financial Analyst and is now going to school studying to be a veterinary technician. She says she enjoys gardening, hiking and serving.

 

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