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Sigrid Ekran grew up in Norway, where she first started dog sledding. She spent her childhood on the family farm in Sparbu, Northern Trøndelag, where the family encouraged an active outdoor lifestyle.
She has completed two Iditarod races (2007 and 2008) and is now looking forward to participate in 2012.
Ekran’s special interest for conservation management and animal pack behavior provided an opportunity to visit Alaska as an exchange student in wildlife biology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF). For two years she worked on a Masters Degree in Northern Studies at UAF and training and racing sled dogs in her spare time.
«We have fantastic nature in Norway, but nothing like the wilderness of Alaska», Sigrid explained as her decision to move to Alaska.»
Inspired by famous Norwegian adventurer Helge Ingstad, Sigrid left for Alaska in 2003. She found it to be more than what she had asked for:
«They take dog mushing very seriously up here», Sigrid said.
During her first winter at UAF, Sigrid ended up assisting the Norwegian mushers in the Iditarod race. She has been responsible for Team Norway’s food drops for the Iditarod ever since.
Working with two-time Iditarod champion Robert Sørlie and fellow team members Kjetil Backen and Bjørnar Andersen, Sigrid has gained valuable experience on the Iditarod trail. Following Team Norway’s success in Iditarod 2005 (Sørlie 1st and Andersen 4th place), Sigrid made the decision to commit to dog mushing. Demonstrating both talent and determination, Bjørnar Andersen trusted her with two of his young Iditarod dogs in gratitude for her assistance during the race. Later that same year, Robert Sørlie added to the young musher’s kennel by giving her two of his promising young dogs. Sigrid had the foundation for her sled dog team.
Sled dog mushing is a sport which in Alaska is dominated by middle aged men. Sigrid found great inspiration in working for one of Alaska’s most famous female mushers and four time Iditarod champion, Susan Butcher who passed away this Fall. Repeatedly questioning herself «Am I strong enough? Tough enough? Can I do this?» Sigrid found strength in the inspiring friendship she had with the late Butcher:
«Whenever I’m in doubt, I think of Susan. If she could do it, I can.»
Sigrid has been working and training with Iditarod veteran Louis Nelson, Sr., an Inupiat Eskimo at his Snowy River Kennel in Kotzebue, Alaska. Starting out with her four Team Norway dogs, Sigrid spent every opportunity and penny searching for the best sled dogs in Alaska to build her Iditarod team. Living in a moderate cabin without running water or electricity, but with the pack of dogs in her back yard and the trails of the Alaskan wilderness on her doorstep, Sigrid committed herself to the sport and to her team of dogs.
«I haven’t bought any dinners at the supermarket for the past year or so. I usually catch whatever I need from nature», she said.
In the summer season, Sigrid worked with her team of dogs as a sled tour guide on a glacier in Juneau.
«I find tremendous gratitude in being a leader of such an inspiring team of dogs. Sharing a unique experience in nature with them is indescribable. I am very inspired by Leonhard Seppala, the Norwegian musher who became a legend in Alaska after the 1925 Serum Run to Nome, to which the Iditarod pay tribute.»
«To be on the trail, racing in the tracks of those pioneers who made a difference, truly makes the Iditarod The Last Great Race on Earth.»