March 18, 2018

Meet the 2018 IditaRiders!

Wondering who the lucky person in the sled of your favorite musher is? Meet the 2018 IditaRiders here! They are in the final countdown to their amazing ride at the start of the 2018 Iditarod! Be sure to cheer them and their teams on as the hit the trail!


All About…

Riding With…

Monika Aldrich


Monika tell us, “I was born and raised in Heilbronn, Germany. When I first moved to Anchorage I did monthly trips to a bush community with the dentist I worked for. 4 years later I found a home with Furniture Enterprises of Alaska where I have been working for 20 years.  It is a great privilege to be chosen as an IditaRider. I love dogs and I admire the teamwork between Mushers and the dog teams.”

Pete Kaiser

Sheryl Beal



Sheryl says, “I am from a small town in Oregon where I live with my husband Dennis, 2 dogs, 3 horses and 4 cats. I have 3 grown children and 8 grandchildren ranging in age from 5 to 20. I retired in 2015 after working for the State of Oregon for 30 years.

This is my 6th year traveling to Alaska for the start of the Iditarod and I’m excited to be and IditaRider for the second straight year!”

Monica Zappa

Stephen Brown


Kelly Maxiner

Tammy Caison


Tammy says, “Tammy Caison – This is my second time riding with Robert Redington and I can’t wait!  I met him last year as an IditaRider right before I competed for the Ms. Universe Pageant.  I won the pageant and am returning to ride again with Robert as Ms. Universe!  The Redington and Caison families have become very close over the past year and our company AFS, is now a sponsor.  I’ll have to leave my own two black labs at our house in Colorado to go to Alaska, but I know it will be worth it!  See you all soon.”

Robert Redington

Charlotte Cassin


Charlotte tells us, “I am returning as a fifth-year volunteer in both Anchorage and Nome.  My first year I had the great adventure of riding in Jeff King’s sled.  After that, I took each of my Greatkids and my son to be IditaRiders.  They rode with Anna Berington, Lance Mackey, Rick Casillo and Scott Janssen.     

After being so generous to other family members, I have the pleasure of riding in Linwood Fiedler’s’ sled this year.

As a South Texas rancher, I went to the Iditarod knowing I am “Texas tough”.  It didn’t take me long to discover “Alaska musher tough” is an entirely different thing.  There is no comparison to what these fine men and women do with, and for, their dogs.  It is an amazing experience I look forward to continuing.”

Linwood Fiedler

Tanis Cordova


Matt Hall

Margie Corristan


Margie says, “My knowledge of the Iditarod was minimal until November, 2016.  My son was working with Noah Pereira in Willow and we went to visit them.  I told Noah I wanted to do EVERYTHING – play with the dogs, feed the dogs, even scoop the poop!!   We went to the Iditarod headquarters and met some other mushers (The Beringtons) as they were signing up for the 2017 Iditarod.  My son completed the Knik 200 in 2017.  I learned so much and decided one day I would experience the Iditarod!   When I saw the auction I realized that I would soon be crossing an item off my bucket list.  I’m a Florida girl – born in Jacksonville and have lived here for most of my life, but I’m not afraid of the snow and the cold.  I’m excited to be a passenger on Al’s sled to experience a once in a lifetime adventure!!”

Alan Eischens

Ann Marie Cox


Ann Marie says, “This is my third Iditarod and I am excited to be able to ride with the Battle Dawgs team.  I am a quiet person who enjoys quirky travel and exploring the world.  I am honored to have family, friends, and business associates who have served our country.  Without their dedication and service, I would not have had the opportunity to travel to the many remote world locations that I love.   I look forward to another fun and exciting Iditarod.  And most importantly, I thank everyone for their service.”

Rick Casillo

Patrice Cromwell


Aaron Burmeister

Janelle Dailey


Janelle says, “In 2015, we vacationed in Alaska for the purpose of experiencing the Alaskan Iditarod and Northern Lights. Upon landing we didn’t see any snow and wondered how the race could happen. The cab driver told us snow would be “brought in”. What? We didn’t understand how that could happen, but around 10:00 PM from our hotel room near 4th Avenue we began to hear loud noises and discovered what it meant to bring in snow. On race day, I suffered through the cold and became fascinated as to how to become an IditaRider. After following the race for a couple years, my husband decided to bid for a spot. Since we couldn’t decide which one of us would get to ride if we won, he bid twice so we could each fulfill a bucket list dream.”

 Dave Delcourt


Loran Dailey


Loran tells us, “In 2015, we visited  Anchorage  and observed  the Ceremonial Start to the Last Great Race on Earth.  The experience was outstanding. It captured my attention and admiration like no other sporting event ever. The human endurance of the race is just beyond my ability to comprehend. And those dog’s abilities are simply unbelievable.   I’ve read numerous books and articles published by mushers and have been an Iditarod Insider every year since. I always purchase the video to relive the excitement. Race week has me glued to my phone as I’m able to follow the progress of all the mushers. I would have never dreamed I’d be able to actually participate in such an incredible event. We are truly blessed to be able to have this once in a lifetime experience.”

Scott Janssen

Ishan Dave


Noah Pereira

Patti Davis


Patti Davis is the owner of a successful dog grooming business in Washington state.  Since the age of 7 she raised, trained and shown non-sledding breeds.  She attended the Westminster Dog Show in 2003 and 2017 as an Owner and Handler.

She came to Alaska for the first time in 2016 to see this thing called “Iditarod” that her husband kept talking about.  She immediately fell in love with Alaska, the Iditarod and dog sledding.

Although she’s been on a dryland cart before, this will be Patti’s first time on a sled in the snow.

Patti and her husband Russell are slowly gathering the pieces to put together a recreational mushing team.  They are members of the ITC and Yukon Quest, sponsored 3 miles in the Copper Basin 300 and donate to several race teams as well as a rescue for retired sled dogs.

Scott White

Russ Davis



Russell Davis is a retired Army veteran and a Master Electrician from Washington state.  He says “I was a teenager when I first heard about the Iditarod, so it was, way back in the early days.  The idea that someone would willingly drive a dog team 1000 miles through the Alaskan wilderness, in the dead of winter, seemed crazy and brave and wonderful all at the same time.”

Finally in 2010, he had the opportunity to see his first Iditarod.  He returned in 2016 to share the excitement with his bride.  Russell and his wife, Patti are both IditaRiders for the 2018 race.

Russell and Patti are slowly gathering the pieces to put together a recreational mushing team.  They are members of the ITC and Yukon Quest, sponsored 3 miles in the Copper Basin 300 and donate to several race teams as well as a rescue for retired sled dogs.

 Tara Cicatello

Jane DeVries


Jane tells us, “I grew up in Nome, Alaska and have always been a HUGE Iditarod fan. I have fond memories of participating in the “Iditarod reading race” (where we read books to get from checkpoint to checkpoint). I LOVED getting out of school to cheer for the teams as they crossed the finish line. As part of a “milestone” birthday, my family and friends have blessed me with a dream trip with a childhood friend back “home” for the race I love. This time I’ll experience the start in Anchorage for the first time and have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an IditaRider. Most of all I’m excited to see friends I haven’t seen for a long time and to return to “Nome sweet Nome.” Currently I live in Wisconsin where I serve at Covenant Harbor Bible Camp. My eight nieces and nephews are my joy.”

Meredith Mapes

Charles Dumbaugh


Charles tells us, “I was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1938, and moved to Boston after graduating from Denison University.  I began my career as a computer programmer at a time that no one knew what a computer or a programmer was.  I was transferred to Nurnburg, Germany to install a computer system in the US Post Exchange System.  My office was in the same building where they held the war trials. It was there that I met my present wife. After 2 years, we returned to the US .  Since then, my wife earned a Masters Degree from Case University in Cleveland, Ohio.  She also earned 2 Masters and a PHD from Harvard University.  We have 2 sons, that we adopted from Bogota, Columbia, who are both college graduates,  I have been in the business of rehabilitating Town Houses in downtown Boston since 1970.  I have been an IditaRider before in previous years.”


Jim Lanier

John Egeland


John Egeland, born the youngest of 17 children and raised in the sugar beet, edible beans and wheat production region near Fisher, Minnesota is attending his first Iditarod. He went to college at Concordia MN and earned a degree in Ag Production from the University of Minnesota. He immersed himself in agriculture embracing his roots and served on the boards of several organizations striving to improve production, marketing and community conditions.

John met his lovely wife of 51 years while at the U of M where she studied nursing. They retired to a Lake Home in Bemidji in 2006. John’s insatiable curiosity has spawned many hobbies and adventures, the most notable a model train layout the goes from the coal fields of western North Dakota to the seaport of Duluth, Minnesota complete with sky, clouds and finely detailed mining, farming, shipping and commercial enterprises. John and his good friend Paul Eggebraaten (an Arctic Cat Test Racer among other death defying pursuits)have also spent countless hours searching Lake Beltramie with an underwater camera for the Model A Roadster of Al Capone that sunk through the ice. They have gotten closer every year!

John was highly encouraged by his wife  to go to the Iditarod as part of the South Dakota Iditarod Experience led by Lee Larsen and his IditaRide with Tim Muto will be a complete surprise. He has prepared for the experience by reading about Joe Redington and the Iditarod.

Tim Murto

Juliet Felton


Juliet tells us, “I’m twenty years old and in my junior year of college at Michigan State University.  I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago.  I have two younger brothers, and awesome parents (all of whom I love dearly).  I’m majoring in Special Education, with a minor in English as a second language.  I’m also in a Global Educators Cohort Program, which focuses on teaching abroad or in unfamiliar environments.  I love to travel, and learn more about our beautiful world, as well as educate myself on different cultures.  I relish my time spent outdoors, skiing and hiking being some of my favorite activities.  I have an Alaskan Malamute who would love to go on this journey with me.  I’m so thrilled to have this opportunity, and am beyond grateful for my dad who has always inspired me to take up new experiences and make every one positive and exciting!”

 Anna Berington

Rosyland Frazier

 Rosyland tells us, “I can’t wait. I am thrilled to be an IditaRider! In fact, this will be my first dog sled ride ever. I have enjoyed watching the race for about 30 years and have always admired the athleticism of the dogs and the mushers.  It was such a surprise when my husband gave me this opportunity as a Valentine’s Day present. What a gift!”

Nicolas Petit

Allison Griffith

 Allison tells us, “Born in Ketchikan before statehood, I returned to Alaska with my military family in 1972, just prior to the first Iditarod in 1973.

Our family was so excited for this event, my mom even sewed dog booties for the mushers that first year.

I graduated from Bartlett High School and went to work in the trucking industry during the pipeline boom.  Who needed college?!

I worked for Weaver Brothers for a few years, then went to work for Lynden Transport in 1978.  Aside from a few years off to start a family I have been at Lynden ever since.  Anchorage has been a wonderful spot to work, play and raise a family.  My husband and I have three of our four children living in Anchorage,  along with five grand kids and a few bonus ones, too!  Iditarod is such a special time, I could not be more excited to be able to participate as an IditaRider, I know it will be unforgettable!

Ray Redington, Jr.

Sharyn Gunter


Sharyn says, “I got my first taste of the Iditarod when I was on a Skytrekking Alaska Tour in 2009 and one of my Idita-buddies won the iditaRider draw.  For the next  9 days  I had to hear about how much fun he had.  I came back in 2010 to experience the northern route and became an IditaRider.  It was just as much fun as he bragged about.   I retired from the LAPD  as a civilian employee after  37 years in 2001. Among other assignments, I was a record clerk and a 9-1-1 operator/police dispatcher and retired out of Hollywood Detectives as the adjutant.  Retirement life is good.”

Tom Schonberger

Libby Harrop



Libby says, “I have been fascinated by Alaska and the Arctic since childhood and when I visited for the first time in 2013 I knew I would be back. This is my third Iditarod and it is just as exciting as the first. I have always volunteered for various jobs for the race and so feel very much a part of the Itidarod ‘family’. This year I have signed up to work on the Registration Desk at the Lakefront Millennium so I will get to meet many more of the hard-working volunteers. I previously had my own lavender farm here in New Zealand and now that I am retired I have an interest in a larger lavender farm. I feel privileged that the oil we produce is used in massage oil for Joar Ulsom’s dogs.  I am also delighted to be a sponsor of Joar and his team, so winning the bid to be his IditaRider is the pinnacle of the Iditarod experience!”


Joar Leifseth Ulsom

Gay Heindselman


My love and interest in the Iditarod began 10 years ago when a lifelong friend, Gene Smith, moved to Alaska to fulfill one of his dreams – to run the Iditarod. Because of his involvement, I became an Iditarod Insider and glued myself to my computer, following his GPS signal as he and the 77 other mushers, along with their incredible dog teams, ran the 1000 mile adventure. I watched and began to read about all the mushers and their love for their dogs and the sport. I am a dog lover myself and connect with that unconditional love and bond between us and our four-legged friends. The next year, my husband Kory and I traveled to Alaska to visit Gene and his wife Lynn, and to be at the starting line for the race. Having them in Alaska and having Gene as a past Iditarod musher gave us the opportunity to get up close and personal to some of the mushers. We were able to meet them and visit their homes and dog yards. I was able to be at the starting line and watched as the dogs barked and lunged at their lines to set off on their incredible journey. I knew then that I needed to experience what it is to be an IditaRider and feel that power and energy of the dogs. 

This adventure is my 60th birthday present from my husband (who calls himself an Iditarod widower during the race because I am glued to my computer watching the Iditarod Insider). This will check off one of my bucket list dreams. I am excited to ride in Ramey Smyth’s sled, because he and his brother Cim and their families were some of the first people Gene introduced us to when we came to Alaska. I am so excited for this adventure, and know it will enhance my continued love for this sport.”   

Ramey Smyth

Kaaren Huber


Kaaren and her husband Rob own the Ski-In and Ski-Out Terry Peak Chalets which are located at the base of Terry Peak Ski Lodge in Lead, South Dakota (  Kaaren and Rob also own a Technical Running and Walking Store in Sioux Falls which opened in 2008 called the Runner’s Block (

When asked why she wanted to be an IditaRider, Kaaren says, “The Iditarod is what we think of when we hear Alaska!  It is known as one of the most grueling and gorgeous races.  To witness the Iditarod as a rider will be an incredible experience just knowing the competitive daily grind the mushers and dogs do in the Alaskan temperatures.”

The 2018 Iditarod Experience will be a big deal for this Rookie and former athlete.  Kaaren has been prepping herself with reading as much as she can from books and researching how to prepare herself on this epic adventure!  

Peter Fleck


Kate is an Eighth Grade student at Yelm Middle School in Yelm, Washington. She is an excellent straight A student and is sacrificing her Perfect Attendance record to attend Iditarod 46.  She has taken Government Leadership, makes the Morning Announcements and plays basketball as some of her extracurricular activities.

Kate was introduced to the Iditarod by Musher Jan Steves who spoke to her Fifth Grade class and they followed the race that year. The next year she asked her Grandpa Lee Larsen to make a class presentation after the race concluded. She was inspired to express a desire to attend some day.

The unique opportunity to ride with Four Time Iditarod Champion,  Jeff King, combines making a wish and daring to Dream A Dream that her father, Kyle, and Grandpa, Lee will make a reality experience. She is reading “Cold Hands, Warm Heart:  Alaskan Adventures of an Iditarod Champion” by Jeff King to prepare for the South Dakota Iditarod Experience Trip. Enjoy the ride Kate!

 Jeff King



Misha Wiljes



Isabel Mikheev, age 15, is from Sewickley, PA. Her grandfather is a longtime Iditarod enthusiast who invited her to accompany him to Alaska this year. Isabel is a tenth grader at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. This soon-to-be Iditarider is also a swimmer and a rower. She rowed in the Phillips Academy coxed quad in  the 2017 Head of the Charles and placed seventeenth. She is a staff writer for her school newspaper, The Phillipian.

 Zoya DeNure

Linda LaVone Jordan


Linda Jordan (age 64) was born into a U.S. Air Force family, the eldest of seven children.  At the age of two, the family was transferred to Anchorage, Alaska.   When she was fifteen, her father retired and the family decided to homestead in the town of North Pole.  She attended Lathrop High School in Fairbanks through her junior year until the family moved to Uvalde, Texas.  She has established herself as an entrepreneur and reputable cosmetologist for forty-two years; thirty-eight as a successful business owner.  Linda mentors new cosmetologists, enjoys traveling, doing crafts and volunteers with children and the elderly.  She is a proud member of the First United Methodist Church.  Linda and her husband of thirty-five years, David, are blessed with two children, five grandchildren and two dogs.  Her love of animals and the wish to return to Alaska inspired Linda to attend the Iditarod in 2018.


 Tom Knolmayer

Diane Kaplan


Andrew Nolan

Sherri King



Sherri tells us, “I am retired now and living in Baja, Mexico with my Great Dane Lance on the Sea of Cortez. After 30 years of having my own income tax preparation service in San Francisco, CA, specializing in artists and musicians, I thought it would be fun to go for a sled dog ride in Alaska – never dreaming it might be with the Iditarod.

There are six special people: Debbie, Curt, Cindy Morley, Karen, and John that introduced and encouraged me to bid to try to be an IditaRider. Still hard to believe, I will be, for eleven miles, in the Iditarod. My thanks to them forever.

I am especially thrilled to be riding with rookie Bradley and wish him the best for his Iditarod debut when he hears GO!”

Bradley Farquhar

Marie Kucher


Mitch Seavey

Fong Liu


Fong Liu has enjoyed the wild and rugged beauty of Alaska while on vacation with her family and can’t wait to see Alaska on a dog sled from the perspective of a musher’s view – truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


Steve Watkins

Grace Liu


Grace is a California girl who grew up dreaming of snowy winters, skating, and sledding.  She fell in love with Alaska while reading Jack London, Gary Paulsen, and other authors of the Great White North.  She has been coming up to watch Iditarod since 2008.  This is her 9th time experiencing the Iditarod live.  She loves greeting the mushers in Nome, but she also enjoys meeting the mushers and fans at the Start.  On the first Saturday in March, Grace can’t imagine anything more fun than waving to the Anchorage crowd from a dog sled.  Since 2008, Grace has lived in three cities: Chicago, Fresno, CA, and now, Davis, CA.  Grace is an attorney by training, but now works as a research administrator at UC Davis. In her spare time, she runs and shoots archery.  You’ll recognize Grace because she has a noticeable scar on her right arm resulting from an unfortunate arm wrestling incident in Nome a few years ago.  

Michael Williams, Jr.

Nancy Livingston


Nancy tells us, “Hello Riders!   This is my 18th year riding!!! Obviously never tire of one of the MOST fun experiences in  my life….participating as a rider, volunteer, and life ITC member. Have had huge enjoyment riding with some terrific Alaskan and Norwegian mushers…..Rick Swenson, Mike Williams….Robert Sorlie, Joar Leifseth Ulsom….and this year Norway’s  Lars Monsen. As a volunteer, am very proud of having brought 26 teacher education interns students from San Diego State University to participate in  the superb Winter Education Conference; and working in sales  with the ITC store in both Anchorage and Nome. So riders…both new and old….listen on the Trail…for the sound of eagles soaring, the noise of the  padding from  your  sled dog team’s paws in the snow,  and smell the freshness of the spruce forest…….as you traverse the IDITAROD TRAIL!”

Lars Monsen

Roy Livingston



Roy says, “Hi fellow riders!  Have been a life member of ITC for 18 years….as well as a security volunteer in Anchorage, Willow, and Nome.   Am really looking forward to riding with my good friend Hugh Neff this year.   I road ballast for him in his sled on the Bering Sea ice after he finished Iditarod 2008!  We were exercising the team!!   Each of my rides was unique and different….but always, immense fun!!!   Hope you have the best fun ever!  As we senior riders…..see you on the Trail!!”

Hugh Neff

Philip Malinas


Philip says “I am a psychiatrist on my first visit to Alaska.  I have three lazy dogs at home and want to tell them about dogs who work for a living.”

 Kelly Maixner

Matthew Maillelle

Matthew Maillelle was born on November 2nd, 1986 in Anchorage, Alaska. He has lived in Alaska his entire life. Matthew is a Special Olympics Alaska athlete and employee. He has competed for Special Olympics since he was eight years old and trains and competes in basketball, golf, bowling and floor hockey. In 2003, Matthew competed in the World Summer Games for team USA’s basketball team and took home the bronze medal. In 2014, Matthew took home a gold medal at the USA National Games in the level 5 golf competition. Currently, Matt is training with his Unified basketball team to compete in the 2018 USA Games in Seattle for Team Alaska.

In addition to being a Special Olympics Alaska athlete, Matt works as an office assistant for Special Olympics Alaska. His duties are to answer the phone and doors, help to maintain the fitness center and gym, and assist management staff with mailings, calls and other duties as assigned.

Matt also volunteers in his community. He volunteers with the Dimond High School flag football, basketball, and baseball teams. In his free time he enjoys riding his bike, playing sports, and attending sports events.

Matt is the great nephew of former Iditarod racer Joe Maillelle from Grayling, AK. This is Matt’s first time as an IditaRider.

 Michi Konno

Kenneth McClamrock


Kenneth says, “Hi, I’m Kenneth McClamrock, a retired electrical Contractor from Advance, NC. I keep myself busy now delivering Meals on Wheels. I first came to Alaska in summer 2015 and I fell in love with your state. I knew at that time I had to become an IditaRider. I love the outdoors. Avid hunter and fisherman. I have 3 horses and 2 Rottie dogs. I’m married to my best friend and she didn’t say a word when the bidding started. I checked it 20 times every day. I was determined to get a ride this year. I did. I got Kristy Berington. I cannot wait until March and I get to meet her and the dogs. See you March 1st.”

Kristy Berington



Michael is a Make-A-Wish kid from Oregon!

Richie Diehl


Beverly Nelms


DeeDee Jonrowe

Paul O’Leary


Paul tells us, “March starts a busy month for me as I am running for Speaker-Elect, a national office in the America Psychiatric Association (APA) and will be flying to back and forth across the county campaigning for Speaker-Elect. The first meeting is being held in Anchorage, Alaska, which is represented by Area 7, as is Hawaii and most of the Western half of the USA, with the exception of California, which is Area 6. The APA has seven (7) geographic areas representing the whole of North America. Now, as I live in Alabama, traveling to Anchorage, Alaska, for an Area 7 meeting was unexpected and discouraged. Considering the distance, I was almost convinced to just phone in my appearance; but then I was told the meeting coincided with the start of the Iditarod. How could I not go?  Especially when Dr. Alexander von Hafften, Alaska’s Psychiatrist Representative to the APA tells me there’s a chance I could ride in the Iditarod. A once in a lifetime opportunity, I am there!!”

 Martin Buser

Trina Oshman


Trina tells us, “I have always been an adventurer – traveling the world, experiencing and embracing life to the fullest. The wind was knocked out of my sail and Soul, a year ago when my husband unexpectedly died. My dear friends Kelly and Susan Hoyer have made it their mission to put joy back into my life. So that is why I am here (WITH MUCH THANKS) beholding Alaska and taking this gifted ride of a lifetime as an IditaRider newbie. I spend my winters in Dallas, Texas where I have resided for 30 years. My home state of Indiana is where I return in the summers to Pretty Lake. I enjoy a paddle board or kayak ride, as well as fishing and tooling around in my antique wooden boat, when I am not hanging out at the “Hoyer Bistro” playing euchre. I am very blessed!

Good Luck Aaron Peck – MUSH ON!”

Aaron Peck

Brooke Parish

Brook tells us, “I am a physician specializing in Internal medicine and Psychiatry. I am currently living in New Mexico. I will be in Alaska for a meeting of area 7 of the American psychiatric association. This will be my second time in Alaska and I just love the state. I love being outdoors, love nature, dogs (although have Chihuahuas-not exactly sled dog), and photography.”

Jeff Deeter

Kathy Polo


Dr. Kathy Polo is a Neurologist who hails from Gig Harbor, Washington.  She is an avid hiker who loves the outdoors.  She first learned about the Iditarod over 50 years ago as a young schoolgirl while vacationing in Alaska with her grandparents.  She has had a lifelong love of all animals whom she treats as humans.  That love was passed to her youngest son, a Tacoma firefighter, who spends most of his free time with his best friend Jake, his Siberian Husky.  Kathy hasn’t been on a sled in over 40 years, and certainly never one that was pulled by a mushing team.  The opportunity to be an IditaRider in 2018 is an honor and privilege, but mostly because if her deep love and respect for dogs.

 Lev Shvarts

Barbara Price


Barbara says, “Hello to all mushers, riders, volunteers and all associated with the Iditarod! I am very much looking forward to this event, which I learned about on a previous trip to Alaska in 1975. At that time I traveled about Alaska with a friend, camping under a Sears drop cloth and equipped with a buck knife and down sleeping bag. We drove every road we could find, and loved exploring this beautiful state! I presently am the office manager for my husband, Charles, who is a psychiatrist in Reno Nevada. We love adventure and experiencing different cultures as we have traveled the world, including most recently a trip to Greece. Fun fact: I spent a year in coastal Maine cutting 60 cord of pulp wood and learning to cook and bake on a Queen Anne woodstove! Also spent 3 years as an innkeeper at a cross country ski lodge in Mazama, Washington.”

 Magnus Kaltenborn

Charles Price


Charles tells us, “Our dear friends in Alaska – psychiatrist and musher Natalie Valasquez and psychiatrist Lex von Hafften, have made this Iditarod experience possible.  Barbara and I are thrilled to having the opportunity to ride in an Iditarod sled for the Ceremonial Start. We have been blessed to have many wonderful experiences in this life. We have had the opportunity to lead psychiatric delegations to remote Tibet and Cuba and learn of their healing traditions. Have been attacked by pirates on the waters of Lake Titacaca at 12,500 feet in Peru during a trip learning of the healing ways of the Peruvian culture. Walked the Great Wall of China. I have lived in South India and rode elephants in the mountainous Periyar Wildlife Preserve. Lived in Sweden and Iceland. Participated in the sacred healing ceremonies of the Navajo near Chinle AZ, I see life as a sacred journey and look to participating in the Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod as another opportunity to honor the sacred history of another culture.”

 Charley Bejna

Lesley Rouwenhorst


Lesley tells us, “My name is Lesley Rouwenhorst and I am co-owner of Lesley’s Cakes LLC in Eagle River, Alaska.

My adventure with the Iditarod started when I was a young girl in the Lower 48. I loved watching the Iditarod on the television and reading books about Alaska like Louis L’Amour. Watching Susan Howlet Butcher (she was amazing and such an inspiration) and the other men and women run with their teams against the elements; happy with their victories and grieved for them when things were hard.

I came to Alaska in 2010, met my wonderful husband, moved to Anchorage, and started my dream of opening a cake shop and have been here ever since. We spend our days off fishing and exploring this great state.

I am over the moon ate being a part of the Iditarod. I look forward to seeing all of you at the Ceremonial Start.”

Shaynee Traska

Beth Shubert


Beth says, “I grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, about 15 miles outside of Washington, DC. I have been fascinated by Alaska and the Iditarod since first visiting in 2006, and meeting Dallas Seavey on a tour of his summer training camp.  Alaska is absolutely the most beautiful place on earth to me, and I have wanted to return ever since. I love hiking, boating, and NHRA drag racing, so this sport is the perfect combination for the dog lover in me! I was IditaRider in 2016, and super excited to be back this year and a part of Emily’s Great Race! Let the adventure begin!!”

Emily Maxwell

Heidi Sloan


Heidi says, “I am a 5th grade teacher from Virginia, have loved Alaska and the Iditarod for years,  and now have the privilege of being 2018 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™!  Skyping with classrooms all around North America who are  following  the Iditarod has been one of my favorite tasks this winter.  Many students ask if I am driving a team or have ever been a musher.  I share that I get to be an IditaRider at the Ceremonial Start.  They are excited about that, as am I!  Being able to report how it feels to ride behind a team of dogs with students will be a dream come true!”

Andy Pohl




Sophia’s dad tells us, “Sophia has only been to Alaska once before about 4 years ago. While I was serving as the psychiatric expert for a Court martial in Juneau, she and my wife, Malinda, went for a dog sled ride. We still laugh at how much she giggled and laughed during the ride. She loves her two dogs and frequently tries to get the Great Pyrenees to tug her round. I know she’s going to love this trip, I love that we are able to make some memories that will last for a lifetime. Thank you, Iditarod, thank you.”

 Wade Marrs

Gail Staugaard


Gail says, “Hello.  My name is Gail and I’m so excited to be able to be an IditaRider for the second time.  The first time was in 2013.  What an amazing experience riding in the sled for 11 miles and being greeted by fans the whole way.  I loved seeing how excited the dogs became when they knew it was time to run.   

I grew up as a competitive swimmer, owned a swim club, coached and taught others how to swim.  Then I became a 911 dispatcher.  I enjoy seeing the mushers and those that work with them being kind and loving to their dogs, along with the dogs competing and enjoying what they do.” 

Brett Bruggeman

Bob Stewart


Bob tells us, “My name is Bob Stewart. My home state is Kentucky. I reside in Woodstock, Ga.. My wife Susan, our Son, Neill, Wife, Racquel, daughters Britney and Mally…..  our daughter Bethany.

I am a teacher of Photography and Guitar at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw Ga.

I also teach the Bible.

My love for the Iditarod began 6 years ago after meeting Lance Mackey and reading his book. I love the Redington story and just enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie of the members,mushers and dog lovers. I am so excited to be able to ride in one of the sleds. Riding in the Iditarod is a highlight of my life. Thank you to all who make the Iditarod happen!”

 Cody Strathe

John Stewart


Jason Stewart

Jan Tenney



Jan tells us, “The dream of attending the start of the Iditarod started 6 years ago when a puppy was placed in my arms at Jeff King’s Husky Homestead kennel. The obsession grew each year when the first two weeks in March were dedicated to tracking and reading about the race. I get very emotional when talking about the Iditarod – not sure what causes this strange reaction, but I figure I was probably part of a dog team in a past life. I’m a recent retiree after a long working life as an educator and executive assistant. My husband is a musician and is doggie daddy to 2 white fluffy rescue dogs, Tootsie and HeidiKlum. This is our first time visiting Anchorage in the winter and I’m already shivering in my boots!”

Rob Cooke

Laurie Thomas


Ryan Redington



Tiffany is a 5th grade student and a second time Iditarider with Michelle Phillips. Tiffany enjoys reading, (a 4 time Race to Read winner) soccer (goalie and team leader) and traveling.  In the past year alone, she has been multiple places between fishing in Alaska to going on safari in Africa.  Tiffany loves her black labs, Breckie and Sunny and looks forward to meeting all the Iditarod dogs.

 Michelle Phillips

Arlene Tomilnson


Arlene tells us, “I am a retired accountant living in Tucson, Az.  At age 70, I started playing the upright bass and now play in 2 bands (a 4 string banjo band playing dixieland jazz and a trio playing country, folk, bluegrass etc).  My first experience with the Iditarod was last year when my 4th grade granddaughter studied it in school. I became a huge Jessie Royer fan and have dreamed all year of being her IditaRider.”

 Jessie Royer

Maude Vance



Maude tell us, “My first visit to Alaska was when I was 17 years old. I was amazed with the people and the landscape. I wanted to go back as soon as I got home. However, life kept me away and it was over 20 years later before I made it back. I got a MD/PhD, got married, had a couple of children, got divorced, raised my children as single parent while working full time as an OB/Gyn, discovered running/cycling, married a pilot who lived in Eagle River for 10 years with 2 young adult children, returned to Alaska for our honeymoon and fell in love with Alaska all over again. And now, my husband and I are planning to relocate to Anchorage in the next couple of years. We planned a trip to see the Iditarod start…my birthday surprise was that I get to ride with Katherine Keith and her dogs. I’m very very excited.”

Katherine Keith

Marie Von Hafften


Zipping around the Anchorage Cooperative Preschool parking lot with Teacher Sally’s dogs, Marie was about four years old the last time she was in a sled. Now, she’s 27 and thrilled to participate in the Last Great Race as an IditaRider.

A 2009 graduate of Polaris K-12 School, Marie has worked in the United States and abroad for Thin Air Community Radio, Mercy Corps, UNOCHA, and UN Women. Marie holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Whitman College and, just this past May, graduated with a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.

Marcelle Fressineau

Ameila Warren


Born in San Diego, raised in Chicago and schooled at Boston University, in Communications and Biology – Amelia grew up with a passion for animals, people and the great outdoors! After graduation, Amelia worked in the Los Angeles entertainment industry for four years, then moved last June with her fiancée and college sweetheart to Brooklyn, NY where she is pursuing a career in the tech/communications gig economy. Growing up in the era of “Balto” – training service dogs with a houseful of pets – Amelia Warren and Ishan Dave are excited to announce their marriage at the Captain Cook Hotel on March 3rd, 2018 at 7:00pm, surrounded by family and friends from around the World! Thank you Anchorage for helping make this IdidaRide and our upcoming wedding a dream come true!

Ketil Reitan

Jeff Watanabe


Allen Moore

Lynn Watanabe


Aliy Zirkle

Ken Welty



Ken Welty tells us, “I am a native Californian, born in Riverside, CA.  I began surfing the California Coast in 1963, and continued to surf up to just a few years ago.  In 1969 I began a great career with the Los Angeles Police Department and, after working a number of specialized assignments, I retired as a Police Lieutenant almost 30 years later.  

My wife and I first traveled to Alaska in 1998 and fell in love with the beauty of the state.  We have been on three Alaskan cruises, one two week Alaskan driving trip, and three Iditarod starts in Anchorage, beginning in 2015; this will be our fourth trip to Anchorage for the Iditarod.

I grew up with dogs and cats and I owe my love of animals to my mother, who insured we always had pets.  My favorite dog was my Golden Retriever, Sheba (see photo).  Being an IditaRider combines the beauty of Alaska with sharing the outdoors with incredible animals.”

Mats Pettersson

Lynne Whaley-Welty


Lynne says, “I am originally from Lake Bluff Illinois, and have lived and worked in California since 1974 as a registered nurse. Since 1990 I have served as a Chief Nursing Office, most recently for White Memorial Medical center in Los Angeles and retired in Oct 2014.

Our first trip to Alaska was in 1998, and we met Jeff King and some of his beautiful dogs and learned about the Iditarod.  From that minute on we had the Iditarod on our bucket list!  We finally attended the ceremonial start in 2015 and have been every year since.  

Our next goal was to be an IditaRider. This is a dream come true. I am so excited to be here with my husband who is riding with Mats Pettersson, the first musher we met at the banquet back in 2015.  My husband and I are both animal lovers and the opportunity to meet and mingle with all the amazing athletes is a dream come true

I am so excited for this once in a life time experience and thrilled to be an IditaRIder with a fellow nurse, Anja.  This will be a memory I will cherish forever.”

Anja Radano

Jill Wilson


Jill says,”I grew up in Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University. When I got married, I moved to Maryland where I currently live with my husband, Mark and two dogs, Ellie and Hope. Mark and I love to travel and Alaska and the Florida Keys are two of our favorite destinations.  I have followed the Iditarod for several years and am excited to be attending the Iditarod Conference for Educators. I am grateful to my school, McLean School where I teach kindergartners through fourth graders STEM, for the opportunity to attend the conference. My students are excited about the race and ready to cheer on the mushers. Being an IditaRider is something I can check off of my bucket list. I am thrilled to be riding with fellow Buckeye, Matthew Failor for the ceremonial start.”

Matt Failor

Luci Wright


Jessie Holmes