Karin Hendrickson had never even seen a sled dog until 2002, when she came up to Alaska to volunteer at the Iditarod. She met the Redingtons, and also got a chance to go mushing herself. After a horrific high speed ride through the woods and several major crashes (click here to "My First Sled Ride"), she knew she was hooked.
She went home to Idaho, quit her job as an air pollution analyst, sold her house and everything she owned, and hit the road for Alaska. The first year she worked as a dog handler for Vern Halter, helping prepare for the 2004 Iditarod. The next year she handled for Diana Moroney, prepping for Diana's Iditarod and running her first race, the Tustumena 200.
Running dogs is life-consuming. It takes a lot of money, time, and energy. Realizing that it was impossible to maintain this lifestyle, Karin tried to quit dogs. She spent a year away from the runners.
She was miserable! For some people the addiction to the trail is just too strong, and Karin found out this was the case for her. In the 2006-2007 winter, she began work to build her own kennel and train for distance races.
Karin ran her first Iditarod in the spectacularly cold and windy 2009. She ran Iditarod each year after that, 2009-2014. Balancing the almost impossible task of working full time while training for Iditarod, this way of life became a natural fit for Karin's abundant energy and focus.
In November 2014, while out training her dog team, Karin was struck by a speeding truck that left the highway. The dogs survived unscathed, but Karin broke her back in three places as well sustaining significant soft tissue damage.
Karin worked hard to make a comeback. After only one year off, she completed Iditarod again in 2016, 2017, and 2020.
Karin's injuries will be a lifelong challenge, and continue to cause significant pain and reduced mobility. Karin does not give up easily though, and continues to run dogs and race in the most extreme sled dog races in the world.