August 19, 2018

Eye on the Trail: 49th Musher in Nome

Meredith Mapes made the Burled Arch this morning to earn 49th place in the 49th state with a time of 12 days, 19 hours and 53 minutes. When Mapes was asked what was tough about the trail she immediately responded snow, there was a short pause and she said Snow, a longer pause and she said SNOW, I called it Snow-mageddon. Good thing she made Front Street early in the day as later, more SNOW is predicted.

The first 373 miles of the trail were challenging but once Mapes made Unalakleet, she said the trail hardened up and we were really making great time. Her dogs were excited and were “banging” into their harnesses to leave every checkpoint.

Meredith connected with mushing through Girls Scouts. Her first race was the Willow Winter Carnival that she won by 1/5th of a second. When she was twelve, she acquired her first two dogs, then two more and Fun on the Run Kennel was born. She calls herself the owner and Head Poop Scooper of the kennel.

Mapes began looking beyond 1-dog races to mid-distance racing. She trained for the 2008 JR Iditarod. When the last Saturday of February rolled around she took to the 150 miles trail. Mapes is a four-time veteran of the JR Iditarod. Not only did she participate between the age of 14 and 17, she’s currently a volunteer for the race.

Mapes is one of the unfortunate mushers whose dog team has been hit by a car. In the 2008 Aurora 50/50 a vehicle struck her team injuring her leaders. Mapes was uninjured but was shaken up over the incident. She says she lost her enthusiasm for the sport. After high school Mapes made education her top priority and temporarily retired from the sport to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater with an emphasis in Dance.

While working for the Seaveys during the summer months, Meredith realized how much she missed the dogs and how happy the sport of mushing made her. She’s back to working with dogs and enjoying time on the runners in the wilderness of Alaska.

Meredith is a bright spot on the trail and in the checkpoints. She’s an example of a musher that exudes a positive attitude. Dogs are very intuitive creatures. They can sense the musher’s attitude be it optimistic or pessimistic, be it happy or sad, the dogs know and will reflect what they see in their musher. Hope there are more races in the future for the brightly clad Fun on the Run Coach and Athletes.