Gary PaulsenHometown: Willow, Alaska
Gary Paulsen, 69, was born in Minnesota and grew up living all over the world because his father was in the army. He moved to Alaska five years ago to train for and compete in the Iditarod and says he'll be here the rest of his life. He began mushing in 1979 and first ran the Iditarod in 1983 and again in 1985. For nine years, he has sailed the Pacific Ocean, Fiji, South Pacific, Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico. A writer for 43 plus years, he has written many award-winning children's books and books for adults. "I have come back to the Iditarod because I never should have left dogs-all the time sailing the Pacific, not a day went by that I didn't miss dogs and the dance that running them is for me. I will not leave them again." He says he is making a nostalgic run, non-competitive, simply running to finish. Gary and his wife, Ruth, have one adult son, Jim.