North to Alaska

EDMONDS — The thought of it is frightening.

She ignores the scary daydreams, however, because her longtime goal, running the world-famous Iditarod sled dog race, is now just months away.

Jan Steves, 55, is back in her hometown this summer, recovering from shoulder surgery, walking th

e hills of Edmonds and preparing to return to Alaska in September to train for the March 2012 Iditarod.

If she enters the race, she’ll become only the second woman from Washington state to drive her dog team 1,150 miles over cold, rough Alaska terrain.

“My goal is 12 days, running at the front of the back of the pack,” Steves said. “It will require doing the daily race routines, such as feeding the dogs, in my sleep.”

In February, Steves participated in the Col. Norman Vaughan ’25 Serum Run, a 22-day, 800-mile expedition from Nenana to Nome, Alaska. The event commemorates the dog teams and heroic mushers who traveled by relay in 1925 to deliver lifesaving diphtheria antitoxin to Nome.

“I enjoyed visiting with school kids as we traveled from village to village across the beautiful vastness of the Alaska interior. My dogs were amazing. I have a team of 12 incredible dogs,” she said. “Now it’s all about getting ready for the Iditarod.”

In 2008, Laura Daugereau, a 26-year-old from Port Gamble, became the first woman from Washington state to compete in and complete the Iditarod sled dog race. It was hard for Steves to watch, she admitted.

“Being the first woman from our state was my goal, but I was glad for her,” Steves said. “So now I will be the first older Washington woman Iditarod musher instead.”

A 1974 graduate of Edmonds High School, Steves grew up loving the ski slopes, hiking trails and the beaches of the region. She taught skiing for 25 years at Snoqualmie Pass while she raised her kids.

Mushing became her passion in 2007, when she began training with her dogs in Alaska.

She can’t wait for what is often called “The Last Great Race on Earth.”

This summer, Steves is looking for sponsors to help cover her remaining $25,000 Iditarod costs.

One of her biggest sponsors is her brother, the travel guru Rick Steves.

On Saturday at his travel center in Edmonds, Jan Steves plans to talk about her plans and present a slide show of her recent dog sled run across Alaska.

“My family is very excited for me,” she said. “To be honest, it is scary, but the dream is coming true.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

To sponsor a sled dog, find out about Steve’s presentations and fundraising events, read her blog and view photos of her adventures, go to www.jansteves.com.

To learn about the Iditarod, go to www.iditarod.com.

A slide presentation, “800 Miles across Alaska by Dog Team,” is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Rick Steves’ Travel Center, 130 Fourth Ave. N., Edmonds. To reserve a spot, call 425 771-8303.

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