At first glance, Cindy Abbot may appear to be only a musher (which is remarkable in and of itself). However, this dedicated wife, mother and two-time Iditarod finisher is a world-traveler, extreme scuba diver, former college professor, author, advocate who raises awareness for rare diseases, and a mountain climber! Cindy has summited Mt. Everest which makes her one of the few women to have accomplished this incredible feat.
In 2015 and 2017, Cindy received the honorary Red Lantern Award for her Iditarod finishes- an award which symbolizes tremendous perseverance. In 2007, Cindy was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis- a serious and rare disease. Instead of letting this disease cripple and impede her, Cindy used this as a catalyst and a source of determination to achieve her goals and aspirations. Her motto of advancing and worrying about 10 feet a time is something which has been proven to help lead to success!
Cindy Abbott is currently getting ready to run her 5th Iditarod. Although she is incredibly busy preparing for the race, among many other things, I had the opportunity to ask Cindy some questions to get to know more about her. Check out her following responses:
Who has been your most influential teacher, mentor or coach? Why did you admire this person?
Dr. Bill Beam (now retired kinesiology faculty/Department Chair form Cal State Fullerton). From the first day I walked into his class he knew I was “special.” I loved learning and wanted to be a professional student, but the pay was bad so I became a teacher so I could stay in the “university environment.” He was my teacher, my mentor, and now my friend. His love for learning and the students inspired me to follow in his footsteps.
What is one of your favorite memories from being on the trail?
Just being out with the dogs on a sunny day with no one else for miles and miles. The beauty of the dogs running in Mother Nature’s Winter Wonderland. Something most people cannot experience but I get to – what an honor!
Can you recall the most challenging obstacle that you’ve encountered on the trail? What was it and how did you overcome it?
In the 2013 Iditarod teams had to cross 4 open rivers/streams between Ophir and Iditarod. Some dogs did not like the deep water so I walked them one-by-one across, hooked them to a tree, and then drove the rest over with the sled. This took a lot of time and energy, not to mention I was soaked. Such is the way of racing in Alaska. Mother Nature always throws curve balls and we’d better be ready.
When did you begin mushing? Who or what influenced you?
I stepped on my first sled with a four-dog team in Dec. 2011. I was still teaching and living in Southern California, and flying back and forth to Alaska for training and racing. I was immediately drawn to the sport, the Alaskan culture, but most of all – I loved the dogs.
Do you have a “favorite dog story or moment” that you’d be willing to share?
Too many: Every day when I walk up to each dog to say good morning I see the love in their eyes and their tails start wagging.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in getting into mushing?
See a psychiatrist first!
What is your favorite book?
Reaching Beyond the Clouds: From Undiagnosed to Climbing Mt Everest
Who is your favorite musical artist and what is your favorite song?
John Denver, “Perhaps Love”
Were there moments when you were bored or lonely on the trail? If so, what did you do to pass the time?
How could I be lonely when I have those awesome loves with me. I get all the loving kisses and hugs I need
Cake or Pie?
No question – PIE!
Need a great read? Grab a copy of Cindy’s unbelievable book, Reaching Beyond The Clouds: From Undiagnosed To Climbing Mt. Everest. You’ll be enthralled by Cindy’s story- one of perseverance and resilience.
You can also watch Cindy’s documentary, Banner on the Moon.
Make sure to cheer on Cindy while she makes her way to Nome during this year’s Iditarod!