Eye on the Trail: Failor and Anderson at the arch

Matt Failor, born and raised in Ohio, finished Iditarod in 61st place with a time of 11days, 18 hours and 54 minutes.  He made his rookie run to Nome in 2012 and has been a constant in the race ever since.  Matt recorded his personal best time and place in 2014.  Running the course in 9 days, 16 hours and 42 minutes, he claimed 15th place.

Earlier in the race at Nikolai Failor sustained a cut near his knee that required five stitches.  He says it’s a little swollen and gets a bit stiff now and then but he’s definitely on the mend and was glad he could adapt to the injury and finish the race.  Failor is a fellow who exemplifies optimism.  He seems to work with what he has and figures out a way to get the job done.  Matt is an Eagle Scout.  Somebody at the finish line joked with Matt saying he’d be losing his Eagle Scout in knife safety.  Good natured, Matt laughed at that one.

Matt’s family all enjoy an active outdoor life style.  He says, “My family taught me a love of the outdoors along with camping, fishing, canoeing, backpacking and hunting.“  I believe it’s safe to say that Matt has given his family a love for the sport of mushing.  Visit 17th Dog Kennel prior to the race as the Iditarod Teacher’s Conference attendees do and his dad, brothers, sister, cousins and second cousins will be there helping with the tour as well as previously preparing Matt’s drop bags and in general getting him ready for the trail.  Those little cousins knew every dog’s name and really enjoyed showing the puppies off.

Failor’s first run to Nome was with Martin Buser’s puppy team.  Since then he’s established 17th Dog Kennel outside of Willow, Alaska.  He says, “Iditarod is dog mushing’s greatest stage.  The dogs and I are spend every season together living as a family and we learn to work towards a common goal, improving in everything we do and never stop learning.  Twenty-eight canines have become my immediate family.  However, Ohio will forever be called home.”   

Elliot Anderson followed Failor into Nome.  From the GPS Tracker and race stats, it appeared the two mushers had been running pretty close together since leaving the Yukon.  Which makes sense as they have the common back ground of learning the mushing trade from Martin Buser at Happy Trails Kennel.  They are men with similar interests and are both Eagle Scouts.  

Elliot grew up in Wisconsin in a big family that gave him a love of the outdoors that has shaped his life.  Family vacations consisted of camping, fishing, canoeing, backpacking, and hunting.  Elliot and his brothers are Eagle Scouts.  Elliot heard stories of Alaska from his father.  In his heart he knew he belonged there.  His stepping stone was Wyoming where he guided horseback rides and antelope, elk and mule deer hunts.  He next found his way to giving dogsled tours on the Mendenhall Glacier where he met James Volek who brought him to Happy Trails Kennel.  He was now living in Alaska and doing what he dreamed of as a child.     

Elliot attempted his first Iditarod with a team of Buser puppies in 2014.  The race was a tough one for rookies and veterans alike.  Elliot chose Elim as his finish line.  He ended there with a very healthy happy bunch of dogs.

Anderson has now completed what he started in 2014.  He’s earned his Iditarod Finisher’s Belt Buckle.  His run time was 11 days, 19 hours and 11 minutes.  He was the 62nd musher to cross the finish line.


Elliot anderson into Nome just after sunrise