Jr. Iditarod

LATEST SNIPPET

2016 - Six out of 10 mushers are girls this year. Rookie Bailey Schaeffer finished in 3rd place.

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Background
Snippets
News

Results
Contact: www.jriditarod.com
Related Issue: Iditarod Women, Women Racers Directory, Women in Racing, Women Racers, More Women in Racing, Race Schedules, Notable Women

Background


Blazing the Trail for Future Generations

In 1975 Eric Beeman, Rome Gilman, Mark Couch, Susan Wagnon, Clint Mayeur, Carl Clawson, and Jessee Reynolds, had a dream of starting a competitive race and providing a training ground for young mushers like themselves interested in distance racing. During the next two years other young people including Kenny Pugh, Jeff and Kirsten Pralle, Clarence Shockley, Randy Rader and others joined them and turned this dream from extended camping trips into the beginnings of the premiere race we know today.

Joe Redington Sr., after discussing the idea with these young people, advised them to "go for it" and that was the beginning of the Jr. Iditarod.

This dedicated group of young mushers, with the help of their parents and other interested adults, worked very hard and saw their dream realized when the first Jr. Iditarod Trail Race took place in March of 1978. From then on, the race has grown in stature and professionalism to an event of approximately 160 miles in length. It is held on the weekend immediately preceding the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and draws young mushers from all over Alaska and from outside the state as well as Europe with Thomas Krejci of Czechoslovakia being our first international entrant in 1992. www.jriditarod.com/special.php?id=7

Preview the Junior Iditarod


Camping trips with their dogs and sleds, that’s all teenage mushers had prior to the days of the now celebrated Junior Iditarod. It was the same year that Rick Swenson and Dick Mackey traded leads as they sprinted down Front Street in Nome for the closest finish in Iditarod history that the inaugural junior race was staged. Young mushers of the mid 1970’s watched family members and friends head out across the great state of Alaska to conquer the trail to Nome. The youngsters conceived the idea of having a race of their own – a first rate competition. Those visionary teens along with their parents and other mushing enthusiasts went to Iditarod founder Joe Redington, Sr. seeking his advice and endorsement. Seeing the passion and desire in their hearts and recognizing that they would be the future of dog mushing in Alaska, Joe encouraged them to “go for it.” One would expect nothing less from the man who “dreamed up” Iditarod.

Thirty-three years later, the field is set for the running of the 2011 Junior Iditarod. Fifteen teams have entered the competition that runs from Knik Lake to Yentna Station Roadhouse. Before leaving Yentna for the last half of the race that concludes at the Willow Community Center, the teams are required to take a ten-hour rest. The distance covered by the teen mushers is roughly 150 miles.

The current field is led by defending champion Marissa Osmar of Ninilchik, Alaska. Marissa is a third generation musher. Her father, Tim is a 3 time Junior champ and her grandfather, Dean, won the 1984 Iditarod. The field of fifteen teams has eight veteran Junior mushers along with seven rookies. The veterans have 15 combined years of Junior experience. By gender the field consists of six guys and nine girls. Rookies Jenny Greger from Bozeman, Montana and Annika Oleson from Yellowknife in NWT, CANADA join the twelve Alaskan contestants.

In reading the musher biographies on the Junior Iditarod website, one sees several common themes. Many of the teens come from families that have been involved in the sport for a long while – several for three generations. A few of the current field are fairly new to the sport but many say they’ve been mushing almost as long as they’ve been walking. Many have parents who are Junior Iditarod or Iditarod veterans. Several of the juniors running this year hope to pursue careers as veterinarians.

Eye on the Trail: Reflecting on the Jr. Iditarod from Yentna


As of 1:30 this afternoon (Sunday, 2016), all Jr. Iditarod teams have crossed the Willow finish line. It become evident at the stating corral on Saturday morning that these groups of teens was on the high end when it came to quality. From the moment they pulled into the staging area with their parents or mentors, they were all focused on their dogs and necessary preparations for the 10:00 start.

All mushers arrived at the half-way point of the race where they signed in and went through sled check to show the mandatory gear. Sleds were organized and so were the young mushers. But it’s not about the sled, it’s about the dogs. As the TOP NOTCH TEENS approached Yentna, their dogs were really energetic. That energy was largely due to the pace the teams ran at. These mushers knew their dogs and paced them and hydrated them correctly so they finished the 75-mile run still wanting to do more.

Once the teams were parked, the mushers went to work removing booties, distributing straw and watering their dogs. Then they took to preparing a gourmet meal for the dogs and while that was cooking, the dogs enjoyed special massage treatment and received a great deal of praise and love. For the mushers, it was a freeze dried meal recreated with hot water.

The dogs were soon sleeping and the mushers enjoyed a Yentna Station tradition – the bon fire. It’s a time for the kids to sit around the fire, talk with their peers, renewing old friendships and creating new friendships. They didn’t stay their long. With the mild overnight temperatures, most of the teens caught some sleep on the straw right along with their dogs. Ten hours sounds like a long time but it went by pretty fast.

The race judges and the race marshall circulated amongst the teams all night. One major sled repair was accomplished. A couple of mushers decided to drop a dog at Yentna.

Morning arrived well before sunrise at Yentna. As the starter/timer for the return run, my work began at about 2:30 am. The thermometer showed 24 degrees, there were stars peaking through some light cloud cover and the winds were calm. What a great mushing day.

Once again, these teens were at their best. They had their teams ready to depart right on time. Kevin Harper left at 2:49 with Andrew Nolan following closely at 2:58. Harper stopped for a couple of minutes once he made the river to repair a neck line. Bailey Schaeffer followed at 3:18. There was a break in the action until 3:45 when Joan Klejka, Dakota Schlosser, Chandler Wappett and Denver Kay Evans in just 10 minutes. After a half hour break in the action, Marianna Mallory, Rose Capistrant and Katie Deits left in the span of nine minutes.

The TOP NOTCH TEN had their routine down. Dogs were feed, camp was cleaned, booties went on, the dogs stood with tails flagging and they were ready to rock and roll. Each team was brought forward off their straw to a hard packed snowmachine trail for their countdown. That’s easier said than done because once these dogs are charged up to run start moving, it’s not an easy task to have them stop and wait till the seconds tick down. They don’t really care what time it is, they simply want to run.

Denver Kay Evans was running Ryan Redington dogs. Her dogs trotted forward and stopped when Denver called whoa. They stood very patiently through their countdown, leaning but not lunging, jumping or barking. They were focused, they were ready to run. That energy saving mode is a trait Ryan instills in his dogs and Denver reinforced it beautifully.

Race Marshall Danny Seavey and Veterinarian Dr. Phil Meyer had much praise for these Top Notch Teens. Their dog care was exemplary and their race strategy was well managed.

I wasn’t at the finish line for the arrival of the Champion and runner-up. The IAF sent planes out to Yentna at first light but it’s not the humans that have priority, it’s the dropped dogs. As more planes arrived we returned two by two to Willow. Bailey Schaeffer was the first team I photographed near the finish line. All teams completed the race prior to 1:30 this (Sunday) afternoon, exactly as estimated according to their performance on Saturday.

Please check the Jr. iditarod webpage for complete results of the 39th race. Kevin Harper reclaimed his title. Andrew Nolan also in his third Jr. Iditarod claimed second. Bailey Schaeffer a rookie placed and Dakota Schlosser followed for fourth place. Rookie Chandler Wappett claimed fifth followed by veteran Joad Klejka and Rookie Denver Kay Evans. Rose Capistrant, Marianna Mallory and Katie Deits all veterans rounded out the TEN TOP NOTCH TEENS.

Congrats to all mushers for a fine performance. Congrats to Stan Hecker, long time volunteer, who was honored by the Jr. Iditarod. Many thanks to the ever gracious Gabryszaks for their hospitality at the Yentna Station Roadhouse. Additional thanks to the dedicated army of volunteers who make the Jr. Iditarod happen and to the pilots of the IAF.

Eye on the Trail: Jr. Iditarod Mushers Draw Bib Numbers


Ten Jr. Iditarod mushers drew their bib numbers on Friday evening at Iditarod Headquarters. The Juniors will take to the trail on February 27th from the Willow Community Center at 10:00.

The teens, ages 14 – 17 will run 75 miles out to Yentna Station Roadhouse. The roadhouse, run by the Gabryszak family, has been the traditional turnaround for years. The teens will begin to arrive late afternoon. They are required to rest for 10 hours. The differential to accommodate two-minute start intervals is added to the ten hours. Given past races, the leaders will most likely depart from Yentna for the return trip to Willow beginning at sometime between three or four o’clock in the morning.

The JR. Iditarod field for 2016 is comprised of seven veterans and three rookies. They all hail from Alaska in an area covered by a triangle with corners in Fairbanks, Bethel and Skagway. There’s an equal number of male and female racers.

Five of the top six finisher in 2015 are back to race. Defending Champion Kevin Harper, returns for his final Jr. Iditarod. Andrew Nolan the recipient of the 2015 Sportsmanship award and Marianna Mallory the recipient of the 2015 Humanitarian award are back for the race. Nolan finished third and Mallory finished in 6th place. Dakota Schlosser, the highest placing rookie of 2015 returns to the field. In 2015 the Jr. Iditarod was moved north to Cantwell and the Denali Highway do poor snow conditions so for most of the veterans, the trail will be new. Harper and Nolan are the only returning veterans with more than a year of race experience.

Veterans Katie Diets, Rose Capistrant and Joan Klejka will be on the traditional Jr iditarod trail for the first time come Saturday. Klejka from Bethel was awarded the Red Lantern in 2015 as the final musher to finish.

New comers to the race include Bailey Schaeffer of Willow, Denver Kay Evans of Skagway and Chandler Wappett of Fairbanks.

Wasilla merchants and mushing suppliers are very generous in supporting the Jr. Iditarod. The donations are numerous and each musher receives a bag of items ranging from gloves to blinking safety lights to fleece neck warmers. Kipmik provides 500 dog booties. Each of the mushers draws a tag. If the tag has a “B” the musher receives 100 booties, tags drawn with a smiley face mean have a smiley day but no booties. Winners were Katie Deits, Rose Capistrant, Joan Klejka, Kevin Harper and Chandler Wappett. Many thanks to Kipmik for their generous support of the Jr. Iditarod mushers.

The Jr. Iditarod has select Stan Hecker as the Honorary Musher. Hecker is a long time volunteer from Michigan who came to the race through high school friends. Hecker will be on hand in Willow wearing Bib #1.

The weather is expected to be unusual for this time of year. Temperatures may reach into the 40s and some rain may fall. These mushers and their dogs are ready to rock and roll.

36th Junior Iditarod


Thirteen Junior Mushers are registered and set to start the Junior Iditarod on the last Saturday of February. The field for the 2013 Junior Iditarod is composed of an international entry, four lower 48 entries and eight Alaskans. Rookies outnumber the veteran mushers by one. All together the veterans bring eight years of Iditarod experience to the starting line on Knik Lake. Conway Seavey has completed two prior Junior Iditarod races and is back to defend his 2012 championship.

Jenny Greger from Montana returns for her third run to Yentna Station. She’s looking to better her 5th place finishes over the last two years. Ben Harper, looking to improve his 3rd place finish in 2012 has only been involved in the sport of mushing since moving to Alaska two years ago. Other veterans include Alaskans, Jonathan Biggerstaff and Alea Robinson. Annika Oleson of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territory of Canada rounds out the returning list of veterans.

New to the race are Bethel residents Joshua Klejka and Caleb Miller. Klejka has been running dogs since a young age while Miller is fairly new to the sport. Abby Brooks from Fairbanks has a long family history of mushing and hopes to complete this Junior Iditarod after becoming sick and scratching last year. Jimmy Lanier of Chugiak says he began mushing before he was born. Jimmy likes to sing and play baseball. From the lower 48 are rookies Noah Pereira from New York, Taylor Steele from Pennsylvania and Malinda Tjelta from North Dakota all have several years of experience standing on the sled runners behind a dog team. Get to know the young mushers better by reading their biographies on the Junior Iditarod webpage.

Now it’s time for a little Junior Iditarod history. The first year of the race, there were two divisions of mushers. The senior division contestants, ages 15 to 17, ran 10 dogs for a distance of 40 miles. The junior division, ages 11 to 14, ran 6 dogs for a distance of 36 miles. The next year the race was changed to only one division of ages 14 to 17 and ran 90 miles with a maximum of 10-dogs. For the past 30 years, the juniors have run a distance of about 150 miles. Generally the route runs from Knik Lake out to Yentna Station where the teams take a required ten-hour rest plus the starting differential before heading to the finish line at Willow Lake. Five mushers have won the Junior Iditarod in back to back years. The only musher to win three Junior Iditarod races in a row was Tim Osmar. Race results from the past 34 years are available in the Junior Iditarod history archives.
Source: iditarod.com/junior-news-35th-junior-iditarod/

2013 Bib Draw


It’s Friday night and the Junior Iditarod mushers have drawn their bib numbers. Thanks to the generosity of local merchants each participant received a care package that included a musher hat, headband, gloves, socks and other items too numerous to mention. As the mushers and parents enjoyed pizza, the trail boss reviewed the route and trail markings. As has been the tradition for the past 30 years, the Junior route will cover 150 miles – 75 miles from Knik Lake to Yentna Station and 75 miles from Yentna Station to the finish on Willow Lake.

When it came time to draw starting positions, dog tags were placed in a hat made of dog booties. The mushers drew and announced their starting position. Before the Saturday morning start, dog tags must be placed on each dog, on the person and on the sled. Kipmik provided five packs of 100 dog booties and the lucky winners were dogs owned by Conway Seavey, Jimmy Lanier, Jenny Greger, Malinda Tjelta and Alea Robinson.

To thank the many generous businesses and individuals who provided prizes for the Junior Iditarod, the mushers signed bibs that will be presented to the sponsors. Once again, Lynden Transportation will award scholarships to the top finishers. Lynden also sponsors the humanitarian and sportsmanship awards. Previous scholarship winners have used the funds to attend college, flight school, trade school and business school.

The Junior Iditarod Board of Directors chose to honor Scooter Newman as the Honorary Musher for the 2013 Junior Iditarod. Scooter participated in the first three Junior Iditarod races. She impressed her mentors with her work ethic and abilities as a dog musher. Scooter was very competitive and worked hard to do her best for her dogs and do her best in every race. In running the early races, Scooter influenced other young girls to participate in the sport as well as run dogs competitively. Scooter passed away in August of 2012 at the young age of 50. She’s an inspiring part of Junior Iditarod history. The Junior mushers signed Bib #1 to present to Howie Newman, Scooter’s father.

There was a lot of excitement at the musher meeting tonight. As the dog trucks arrive at Knik Lake in the morning, the dogs will add their energy to that of the mushers. It looks like it will be an excellent event. The trail was reported to be in excellent condition. Weather conditions for the race should be mild with the possibility of light snow. Follow the progress of the teams from start to finish at www.jriditarod.com .
Source: iditarod.com/junior-news-bib-draw

Snippets


2016 - 6 girls out of 10 mushers

2015 - 6 girlks out of 11 mushers

2014 - 3 girls out of 9 mushers

2013 - 6 girls out of 123 mushers.Two rookies lead off the 2013 Jr Iditarod today-Melina Tjelta and Abigail Brooks then comes Annika Olesen.

This is Jenny Greger's third Jr. Iditarod. She finished fifth in 2011 and 2012 and 2013. she was the first woman to cross the finish line and finished 3rd over-all.

2012 - 5 girls out of 10 mushers.

2011 - 11 girls out of 14 mushers

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Results


2016 - 39th Running

Bib

Finish

Name

Comments

9
8

Rose Capistran

4
10

Ksenia Deits

Jessi Downey

Withdrawn

6
7

Denver Kay Evans R

Nicole Forto

2014 rookie 9th, 2015 9th

11
6

Joan Klejka

3
9

Marianna Mallory

2
3

Bailey Schaeffer R

2016 rookie

2015 - 38th Running

Bib

Finish

Name

Comments

8

Rose Capistran

7

Ksenia Deits

9

Nicole Forto

2014 rookie 9th, 2015 9th

11

Joan Klejka

Red lantern

6

Marianna Mallory

Humanitarian

11

5

Jannelle Trowbridge


2014 - 37th Running

Bib

Finish

Name

Comments

9

Nicole Forto

R Red Lantern

7

Ashley Guernsey

R Blue Harness

6

Jannelle Trowbridge

R

Four girls, all rookies, versus 6 boys - 2 rookies and 4 veterans.

2013 - 36th Running

Bib

Finish

Name

Comments

3
11

Abigail Brooks

R

9
3

Jenny Greger

Humanitarian, Blue Harness

4
13

Annika Olesen

11
5

Alea Robinson

13
7

Taylor Steele

R

2
9

Malinda Tjelta

R

2012 - 35th Running

Bib

Finish

Name

Comments

8
5

Jenny Greger

Humanitarian, Blue Harness

5
6

Chelsea Davis

6
8

Aiyana Ferraro

9
9

Mattie Cobb

Red Lantern, Sportsmanship

12
10

Abigail Brooks

Scratch

2011 - 34th Running

Bib

Finish

Name

Comments

3
4

Kaye Berg

9
5

Jenny Greger

Rookie of the Year

-
-

Lacey Hart

Withdrew

-
-

Joanna Jagow

Withdrew

15
3

Emily Krol

2
9

Meredith Mapes

13
7

Shameka Nelson

7
12

Annika Olesen

10
8

Merissa Osmar

Sportsmanship, Humanitarian, Blue Harness

14
11

Alea Robinson

4
2

Anitra Winkler

Legend: R - Rookie, W - Withdrew

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