Cindy AbbottHometown: Willow, Alaska
Cindy Abbott, 60, was born and raised in Nebraska. After graduation from California State University, Fullerton, she became a health instructor there and taught Health Science and Kinesiology for 23 years. In 2007, at the age of 48, she took up mountain climbing with the single goal of standing on the top of the world. A few months after she began training, Cindy was diagnosed with a serious and rare disease (Wegener’s Granulomatosis), but she was determined to achieve her dream and on May 23 2010, Cindy stepped onto the summit of Mt. Everest holding the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD) banner.
In 2011, at the age of 52, Cindy came to Alaska and began learning how to run sled dogs with the single goal of completing the Iditarod. She immediately fell in love with the sport, the Alaskan people and the culture, but most of all, she fell in love with the world’s most amazing athletes—the dogs!
On March 3, 2013, Cindy started her first Iditarod. About 20 miles out, she injured her leg and thought that she may have to scratch at the first checkpoint. After resting for a few hours, she felt better and decided to run to the next checkpoint. In this way, Cindy went from checkpoint to checkpoint until, on day 10 and 630 miles into the race, her condition worsened and, for the safety of the team, she scratched at Kaltag. When she got back to Anchorage she was told that her pelvis was broken in two places!
On March 2, 2014, Cindy started her second Iditarod. Unfortunately, Mother Nature made the race course unusually challenging and Cindy injured her shoulder, prompting her to scratch in Rohn.
On March 7, 2015, Cindy started her third Iditarod. After 13 days, 11 hours, 19 minute, and 51 seconds, she crossed the finish line in Nome and received the Red Lantern Award, a symbol of perseverance. After extinguishing the Widow’s Lantern, officially ending the race, Cindy got her NORD banner photo standing under the Burled Arch.
“Alaska and the dogs have captured my heart and soul,” said Cindy. After 5 years of living and working in California while training and racing in Alaska, Cindy and her husband, Larry, built a house in Willow and now call Alaska home.
On March 6, 2017, Cindy started her fourth Iditarod. After 12 days, 2 hours, 57 minutes and 31 seconds, she once again crossed the finish line carrying the same NORD banner and set a new record time by 25 hours for the fasted Red Lantern time in the 45 year history of the race.
The 2019 Iditarod will be Cindy’s final run of “The Last Great Race.” At age 60, she says that it is time to spend more time with her family. She will continue to run sled dogs recreationally at Dream a Dream Dog Farm.
Since her diagnosis, Cindy has become a very active rare disease awareness advocate for the National Organization of Rare Disorders. She also enjoys mountain climbing, Scuba diving and international travel.
Sanford Health, SD