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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jr. Iditarod 2015 Kicks Off Sunday and the FiveSibes Are Hitting the Trails With Junior Musher Nicole Forto & Team Ineka!

Check out our FiveSibes patch on Jr. Musher Nicole Forto's arm!

 ...Well, sort of! While we won't actually be at the Junior Iditarod in person, we will be enjoying this year's race as what I like to call "armchair mushers!" My FiveSibes family is so very excited to announce that we are one of Nicole and Team Ineka's sponsors for this year's Junior Iditarod! Wooo! For us it's the next best thing to actually being there in person! While we wish we could actually be there with Nicole, her family and their Team Ineka, we are thrilled that Nicole is wearing our FiveSibes patch, with a ribbon for K9 Epilepsy Awareness, on her parka and "taking us along" on a thrilling sled ride of a lifetime!

For up-to-date news, visit jriditarod.com!

The writer and the mom in me is so very proud of this young, impressive lady! I'm always just so thrilled to chat with Nicole, and we had the chance to catch up pre-race on my recent episode of "The Sibe Vibe" on Dog Works Radio, a show her dad produces. Please tune in to this very special Junior Iditarod episode and get to know this amazing junior musher, Nicole, who is quite the exemplary role model for teens today!

Check Out Pets Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Dog Works Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio with Dog Works Radio Shows on BlogTalkRadio

While most teenagers are thinking about what movie to catch at the mall or what outfit to wear out with their friends, 17-year-old Nicole is thinking about insulated clothing, food rations, check points, and her beloved sled dogs—all 36 of them! Nicole, who is a senior at Houston High School in Alaska, and a junior musher has been very busy getting prepared to run her family’s team of Siberian and Alaskan Huskies under the Team Ineka banner in tomorrow's Junior Iditarod that originally was going to kick off today, but due to weather-related ground conditions and temperatures unseasonably warm for Alaska, the start time and date has been changed to 12 Noon tomorrow (Sunday, March 1st) and relocated from from her home town of Willow to Denali Highway. This is Nicole’s second run in the popular race, and last year, she was the recipient of the Red Lantern award, which goes to the last team crossing the finish line. According to Gypsy at the IditarodEducation Portal , the Red Lantern “is a symbol of perseverance and mushers feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when receiving it.”

Nicole and her Ineka Jr. Iditarod team! Photos courtesy of Team Ineka.

When I spoke to Nicole recently, she told me that as race day approached, "I’m both excited and nervous about the race. I ran the Junior Iditarod once before, but it still feels like the very first time. I want this year’s race to be the best racing experience for both my dogs and I since this is my last year in junior racing."

The Junior Iditarod is a 150-mile dog race in South Central Alaska. It is a qualifier for the Iditarod for junior mushers ages 14 to 17 years old. With the race right starting in less than 24 hours, and while preparations can get a little frantic, Nicole says, " I remember to just take a deep breath and have as much fun as I possibly can.”

Nicole and her team. Photo courtesy of Team Ineka.

The beautiful snowy Alaskan trails are where Nicole loves to be. She enjoys her time with the family Huskies that she helps train along with her parents, mushers and canine behaviorists, Robert and Michele. Nicole says she is truly looking forward to the race and to running her lead dogs, Frosty and TyTy, no matter if she comes in first, tenth, or last. And Nicole appreciates the valuable lessons one learns while out on the trail. 

“Mushing…has shown me that believing in yourself and pushing through the good and bad times is where you measure how successful you are,” states Nicole. “My dogs run thousands of miles never giving up on me and I will never give up on them. Mushing has shown me that the word ‘quit’ is no longer in my vocabulary.” Read more about Nicole’s thoughts on success and the journey of a Junior Iditarod musher in her article “Measurement of Success” posted on Tracy R. Williams’ AlaskaTracy.com blog.

Even though Nicole will be hanging up her junior sled after this year’s race and beginning
Nicole with "Ragnar" of Team Ineka.
life as a college freshman at the University of Alaska in Anchorage come fall to pursue studies as a marine biologist, we know that whatever path Nicole chooses, she will be successful.

 “I hope to have a time-of-my-life experience out on the frozen trails of Alaska with my team,” she says with a smile.

Nicole and Dad at 2014 Start.
We here at the FiveSibes wish Nicole and her beautiful team of Huskies (bib #7) all the best in their race, and may they have a safe and fun run! We'll be tracking her trip, and you can too, by following along with Team Ineka on their Facebook and Twitter (@TeamIneka) pages, as well as on our FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews Facebook and Twitter (@FiveSibesMom) pages.

To learn more about Nicole and the Forto mushing family, visit Team Ineka's website, where they are "mushin' down a dream!"     

And happy mushing and safe running to all the Junior Iditarod mushers and sled dog teams! 
You can track Nicole and all the Junior Iditarod mushers via the JrIditarod.com GPS HERE.

Junior Iditarod Musher Nicole Forto takes my FiveSibes Tale Getting Healthy With Harley out on the race trail! Woo! And check out that FiveSibes arm patch! SO excited!
All photos of Nicole Forto & Team Ineka were courtesy of Team Ineka and the Forto Family.



  1. How exciting!!! We are sending lots of good sibe vibes to Nicole and her team for an wonderful and successful run. Can't wait to hear how they do.

    Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

    1. She's such an amazing young lady. A great role model for other teens!

  2. Oh how exciting!!! I will be following her for sure!
    So much fun!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    1. I know, right?! I'm so excited, too! She's an amazing young lady!

  3. That is so very cool. My Dad met a Purina Vet who races in the big one (he lives in Alaska).

    1. Brian, how cool! It's on my "dream list" to one day go to Alaska and photograph one of the "great races!"