Homework, Prom, and Sled Dogs

Kimarie Hanson is vying to become the youngest woman to complete the Iditarod.

Kimarie, a senior at Anchorage, Alaska East High School, is one of 63 mushers who started the world-famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday in downtown Anchorage.

As if it were not challenge enough to travel more than 1,000 miles by dog team through the Alaska wilderness, consider the extra obstacle Kimarie faces: homework.

While she is on the trail and absent from school for the estimated two weeks it will take to reach the Gold Rush town of Nome, she'll be responsible for some special assignments.

Despite her age, Kimarie is a seasoned dog musher. She has been running and racing dogs for half her life, spending part of that time helping her father train for his own Iditarod competitions. Moving up to her own Iditarod competition seemed logical, she says.

"I thought, why not? Why not take the extra step and do it in a year where I'll be remembered? Because no other girls my age have ever done it," she says.

For now, though, most of the attention will be on the usual contenders - five-time champion Rick Swenson, three-time winner Martin Buser, and two-time winner Jeff King.

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