ASD Teacher trains for 2015 Iditarod


by Jessica Gruenling

WILLOW, Ak-- For Begich MIddle School's Philip Walters it took one trip to the last frontier and he was hooked on the state and one of its major sports.

"When I started looking for anything and everything about Alaska I started reading about it and a lot of that involved mushing and sled dogs, so I moved up here I started looking for opportunities to run dogs," Philip Walters, Begich Middle School Band Teacher. 

Walters became a dog handler and started doing short training runs.

Now he is one qualifying race away from running in the 2015 Iditarod.
He currently trains with Iditarod musher, Justin Savidis, but even he can't prepare Walters for what he may face out on the trail.

"We've talked for hours on end about what it's going to be like out there and basically the best I can describe is I have no idea what it's going to be like out there," Walters.

His regimen will have him as prepared as he can be.

"Basically we put ourselves and the dogs through any and every condition that we possibly can just so we're ready for anything that Iditarod can throw at us," Walters.

Some mushers race for a cause and Walters will dedicate his run to soemthing near to his heart.

"Just education in Alaska this year. Right now I'm seeing teachers really qualified teachers and counselors losing their jobs in the anchorage school district because there is no funding for them," Walters.

Of course he hopes to raise awareness for music education.

"I'm a band person so band is always at the forefront of my heart. Getting students more involved in music and allowing them to use that part of their talent and explore that part of their talent as a way to express themselves," Walters.

Philip Walters will race his last qualifier in January and hope that his students and peers will cheer him on when he gets to cross the starting line to Nome in March 2015.