It is the most famous sled dog race in the world, the Iditarod... over 1,000 miles, through Alaska's toughest terrain. It's so popular, there is even a junior version. This year, 15-year-old Taylor Steele of Hopewell will be racing a sled dog team in it.
"I kept watching movies and it just kind of started from there," Taylor explained. " I asked my dad if I could get a dog sled for Christmas and he got me one."
Soon, she had enough dogs for a full team. She traveled to Alaska to learn the ropes of dog sled racing from a professional. Mitch Seavey won the Iditarod back in 2004. Taylor would return home to practice with her local dog team. Then, the following Summer, she went back to Alaska to work with the Seavey family's dog sled tour company. Soon, they agreed she was ready for her own Alaskan sled dog team.
"Mitch offered me an Iditarod team so now I'm racing it," she said.
But, before moving on to Alaska to train with Mitch's team, Taylor would continue training in Hopewell.
"Usually we start out with just 2 mile runs and then we'll increase by 5 miles," she explained. "If you go out for a 30 mile run you're resting for 4 hours and then you take care of the dogs and you cook your food."
On the trail, Taylor is alone with her dog team. It's all preparation for the Junior Iditarod, which requires her to race alone. The training schedule is grueling, so Taylor is Cyber Schooled. She also studies sled dog racing from the professionals, online.
"Just by watching the Iditarod videos and um mushers on facebook and their training schedules... and reading books," she says.
The experience of mushing her own team, drives her towards her goal.
"Its really really peaceful and you see a number of dogs in front of you... just doing what they love to do."
Taylor hopes to run the Iditarod in her senior year of high school. She will try the Junior race February 23-24, 2013.
More about Taylor:
Taylor leaves for Alaska December 13th. She has a website to help fund her trip, which costs thousands of dollars.