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Mushing Manderfield

Teen hopes to travel to Alaska to compete in Junior Iditarod

December 8, 2008

ATLANTIC MINE - Katherine Manderfield said she first became hooked to sled dogs as a young teen after growing up with her older sister, Angela Voldarski, racing.

"We've always had dogs here that I've always taken care of, but I didn't get addicted to having my own team and racing until four years ago," she said.

Now age 16, she has competed in several regional events and is raising money to travel to Wasilla, Alaska to compete in the 2009 Junior Iditarod to be held Feb. 28 through March 1. Manderfield will host a spaghetti dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Range Sno-Mobile Club to raise money for the trip. The suggested donation for adults is $10 in advance, $12 at the door. For children, it is $6 in advance and $8 at the door. She said many local businesses have generously donated gift certificates and products for the dinner.

Article Photos

Layla Aslani/Daily Mining Gazette
Katherine Manderfield poses with one of her sled dogs, Thor, at her home in Atlantic Mine. Manderfield will have a spaghetti fundraiser Saturday to raise money to compete in the 2009 Junior Iditarod race in Alaska.

"There will be raffles and door prizes and there will be a silent auction at the dinner," she said.

Manderfield estimates the trip will cost $10,000 and said the dinner is the first of several fundraisers. She plans to have other events after the holiday season that may include dog sled rides.

The two-day Junior Iditarod is 150 miles long, with children of Iditarod racers often participating. However, Manderfield said she is more nervous about raising funds than the competition.

"I'm actually more nervous about contacting people and asking for money than I am about racing," she said.

Manderfield said she is often relaxed during races and enjoys the solitude of the sport.

"It's quieter (than other sports), there's no crowds watching from the grandstands when I'm out with my team," she said. 'I like training them and see them learn and grow to become a team together."

Traveling to Alaska is a big concern, the sisters said. They said it will take around a week to drive there and with dogs, it could be longer.

"The dogs have to be let out every four to six hours to go to the bathroom, eat," Voldarski said.

Manderfield will bring several Alaskan huskies with her.

"I have 14 dogs, but only three made my team," she said, explaining that she is borrowing three dogs from her sister. "I need 10 to be in it and so far I have six, so I'm calling people and borrowing dogs, I'll get there."

Borrowing dogs is not an uncommon practice, the sisters said.

"Mushers can be really supportive of each other," Voldarski said, adding that Manderfield hopes to save money by staying with mushers on her trip to Alaska. They said Manderfield's father, Bill, will likely drive with Katherine to Alaska. Voldarski plans to fly there so she doesn't miss competing in the U.P. 200 race.

After the race, the sisters hope to stay in Alaska to watch the Iditarod start March 7.

"I'm hoping to do it myself in three years," Voldarski said.

For more information about the dinner or to make a donation, visit or call 482-6025.

Layla Aslani can be reached at



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