by: Katie Writer – KTNA
This past Sunday, Bailey Schaeffer of Willow, Alaska, won the 2018 Jr. Iditarod in 27 hours, 25 minutes,and 23 seconds with nine dogs. In 2016, Schaeffer was Rookie of the Year and placed third, while placing 4th in the 2017 Jr. Iditarod. She dropped one dog at Yentna Station and finished strong with an average speed just shy of 9 miles per hour.
This year’s 150-mile race started at Knik and finished at the Willow Community Center. There were 7 checkpoints with runs of 15 to 22 miles between each and a mandatory 10 hour layover.
Twelve Juniors started the race with only one racer not finishing.
The top five mushers finished within 25 minutes of this year’s Champion. Chandler Wappett of Fairbanks finished second, only 2 minutes behind Schaeffer. Colby Spears of Wasilla finished third.
In fourth, Grace Nolan of Wasilla was the first of the rookies to finish.
Homeschooling is a common among the young mushers, who learn valuable time management skills by dog mushing. Bailey Schaeffer and Colby Spears, who attend Mat Su Central High School, demonstrated top efficiency in this years 2018 Jr. Iditarod.
Bailey Schaeffer was awarded the Humanitarian Award by Veterinarians. Bailey’s lead dog, Bill was awarded Blue-Harness Award. Christina Gibson received the Red Lantern and Sportsmanship Award.
Grace Nolan was Rookie of the Year.