This year St. Mary School is proud to call the 85th participant in the World-Famous Dog Sled competition, the Iditarod, an alumna. Miriam Osredkar, daughter of Tony and Patricia of Chardon, will begin her journey to Nome, Alaska, on March 5, racing team 16 Alaskan Huskies owned by her mentor, Joar Ulsom of Team Racing Beringia.
St. Mary School staff and students have been tracking Miriam’s journey since the announcement came that she would be racing. At the same time, Mrs. Teri Merkle’s 3rd grade class happened to be reading fiction books about dog sled racing and an instant connection was made! Miriam agreed to take time away from her busy preparations to speak with the SMS third graders live via Skype last week.
The day of the call, temperatures in Chardon, Ohio were colder than those from Miriam’s training grounds in Alaska. She commented that the dogs were getting hot! The videoconference was broadcast on the class Activeboard and students were able to ask questions as they viewed Miriam’s camp, dogs, and sled.
Miriam shared the background she has in dog sled racing and how she come to qualify as an entrant in the Iditarod. She shared that many styles of dog sled racing exist, but the Iditarod would be considered a marathon. Miriam shared her experiences with other races but said her favorite was a race in Russia that she described as, “Amazing.”
Through student questions, the class learned that 87 teams will compete this year and she is not yet sure
what her racer number will be, however interested parties can track the race on Iditarod.com.
The students were most excited to learn about the dogs on the team, and came to find that Miriam will be racing with 16 dogs total with names including: Tarzon, and twins Dodge & Viper. Miriam said, “The easy part is getting the dogs to start racing, but the hard part is getting them to stop.” She then showed students where the brakes were located on her sled and how they work to help stop the dogs.
Many racers use a ski pole in one of their hands while racing, but Miriam said she prefers to have both hands on the sled at all times because falling off can be a real problem while racing. There are many challenges that the racers face outside of the cold conditions. Miriam highlighted that moose follow many of the same paths that the racers do, leaving behind them large hoof prints that can trip up dogs and cause injury.
A final question from student Olivia Goetz highlighted one other challenge racers face when training. She asked Miriam, “How many friends do you have up there.” With a laugh, Miriam replied, “The musing community is very small, so you don’t have much of a social life if you are a musher.”
In addition to the physical and emotional challenges to the race, the financial commitment is also large. Miriam estimated the cost to be approximately $30,000 total. She is seeking help to defray the costs of booties for the dogs feet ($3000), the cost of the entrance fee ($3,000), the cost of quality meat and dog food used in the race ($2,000), transportation for the dogs and from Nome to Anchorage after completion of the race ($1500 -$2,000) and various miscellaneous race supplies (hand warmers, glove liners, dog ointments and lineaments).
To help, you can visit her GoFundMe page here.
St. Mary School students will be watching closely as one of their own takes on the challenge of the Iditarod and wishing her the best of luck!