This year’s Iditarod field includes 13 rookies. Many of them are very experienced, while just a few are new to the sport. At least two may have to race all the way to the finish for the Rookie of the Year award.
Fort Yukon’s Josh Cadzow comes from a family of mushers. He started the Iditarod last year, with high hopes.
“Last year, I didn’t come to expose my dogs to other dogs until a couple weeks before the Iditarod,” Cadzow said.
Kennel Cough eventually turned into pneumonia and Cadzow was forced to scratch 300 miles before the finish line. This year, Cadzow has taken his dogs to a few races to expose them to other teams. He hasn’t set any specific goals, but he knows what his team can do.
“I’m only 26 but I made a lot of major mistakes already in my mushing career. Now, I’m just hoping I don’t make any more. I’m an old 36. I’ve logged a lot of training miles this year and I think I’ve done everything I can to get this team to do their best,” Cadzow said.
But Cadzow will have to keep an eye out for Joar Lleifesth Ulsom. The 26-year-old Norwegian brought a few dogs over from Norway this year, but he also has a few wildcards.
“I had some bad luck just a week before the race with some dogs dropping out on me, so I had to take some spare dogs that I had and they’re doing much better than I thought,” Lleifesth Ulsom said.
Lleifseth Ulsom is soft spoken, but extremely driven. He’s running as part of an educational effort called ‘Racing Beringia.’ As he shoveled spoonfuls of beef stew into his mouth in Rainy Pass, he said he wasn’t paying attention to teams around him, but his competitive nature is likely to keep him up front.
“I don’t have a clue what’s going on, so I’m just running he schedule and taking care of the dogs. There’s nothing I can do about it and I’m not gonna change my schedule,” Lleifesth Ulsom said.
Both Lleifseth Ulsom and Josh Cadzow say they have a laid back attitude about the trail ahead. Without the nerves common to rookie mushers it could be a mad dash for Iditarod Rookie of the Year.
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