Our friend Travis Beals, a lifelong Seward boy, just finished his third Iditarod Wednesday night, placing eleventh in a field of close to eighty. This was a big improvement over his last year's finish of thirty-seventh. In fact, both of his first years he placed thirty-seventh. At the start in Anchorage last week, he told the world that his goals was top fifteen and most improved musher. Early in the race, he worked his way up to run with the top third of racers. Then leaving Shaktoolik he was in seventeenth place, right on pace to reach his goal. But Travis and his team logged the fasted time to Koyuk, grabbed a bale of straw and a drop bag of food, and pressed on toward Elim, jumping into tenth place. With that bold move and steady runs the rest of the race, Travis finished eleventh, catching the eye of race watchers around the world.
Madelyn and I were ecstatic to watch him cross the finish line.
We have known Travis for a long time. Madelyn helped him develop his fundraising and promotion skills when he was a high school musher trying to build a team and raise funds to race in the Junior Iditarod. Travis grew up recreational mushing with his mom, but his dreams were bigger. He wanted to build a racing kennel and compete in the Iditarod.
Today, Travis is twenty-two years old with a racing kennel, a dogsled tour business, glacier mushing concession, and three years of competitive Iditarod credential. He and his fiance, Sarah Stokey have built Turning Heads kennel a Seward business that's running on all cylinders.
I find great pride in knowing and supporting people like this. Travis and Sarah exemplify the Alaskan tradition of having a dream and and investing blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. They work hard, they take risks, and they own their mistakes. When you live like that you get to own your successes too. Take a bow Travis and Sarah!