Karin Hendrickson prepares for the Iditarod

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by Jessica Gruenling

ANCHORAGE, Ak--- Originally from Mount Baldy, California Karin Hendrickson first encountered dog sledding as a volunteer in 2002.
 

"I had never seen a sled dog before, and I just got really hooked and then in 2003 I came up again and sold everything quit my job and moved up here and worked for room and board to be a handler for a couple years," Karin Hendrickson, Iditarod Musher.
 

By 2006 Hendrickson started building her own team. Three years later she was a rookie in the Iditarod. This year will be her sixth consecutive race and she says each race is a new experience.   

There are times when you're just staggered by the beauty and the remoteness and how incredible it is and there are times when all you want to do is take a nap and there are times when it's hard or scary and there are times when you can't get over how proud you are of your dogs and how amazing your run is going and maybe your next run is so slow you can't believe how you're ever gonna get there, so it's a lot of ups and downs," Hendrickson.

For most mushers training for the Iditarod is a full time job. But Hendrickson is the exception to the rule, this is her second full time job.   

"It's a huge disadvantage. I'm doing runs after work and not getting a lot of sleep all winter long," Hendrickson.

Long days are not the only challenge Hendrickson faces. As many Alaskans know sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and this year snow has not been plentiful.     
 

" We have a lot of ice and it's really hard on the dogs it's like running on concrete plus there's a chance of them slipping, cutting their feet, so it's just hard all the way around to find good trails. A lot of mushers are traveling to eureka or a lot of other places where the trails are better, but because I work full time through the entire winter I can't really get away so we're making do with what we have and the dogs are holding up pretty well, we're doing okay, but it's not been easy," Hendrickson.
 

Any musher will tell you the Iditarod is a challenge, but that's what drives the Alaskan spirit. Hendrickson says to win you need luck on your side, a clean ride, and skills.