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Veteran musher Matthew Failor looks for top 10 finish after scratching in last year’s race

(KTUU)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 6:07 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Tucked away in the woods of Willow, surrounded by views of Denali, you’ll find veteran musher Matthew Failor and his pack called 17th Dog preparing for the Last Great Race.

They’re among 47 teams set to run in this year’s race and Failor is no novice to this sport. This year marks the 49th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the 10th year Failor is running the race with his own team.

Regardless of his experience, preparing for this race is not easy.

“Oh yeah, I mean it’s definitely a year-long commitment. It’s a lifestyle. Everybody that is here, you know, buys into a life with dogs,” Failor said.

His wife and former television anchor, Liz Raines Failor, has played a major role in helping him prepare for the race.

“And so, she’s a part of everything now. These are her dogs just as they are mine,” he said.

During last year’s race, Failor experienced a series of unfortunate events. His lead dog Cool Cat experienced a twisted stomach while resting in Takotna. Later, he had to scratch from the race after getting stuck on a portion of the trail.

“It was just completely submerged in water, and after trying to go through several puddles through the trail, we just couldn’t keep going. The sled was getting stuck,” he said.

Cool Cat has since made a full recovery and Failor said he’s looking to make a comeback this year and hopes to finish in the top 10.

“The goal is to try and go out there and put a perfect race together,” Failor said.

Despite the race looking different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Failor still remains in good spirits.

“We’re just happy that they’re figuring out a way to have a safe race,” he said. “Every other sporting event has either been canceled or altered, so it’s only fair that Iditarod is kind of falling in line to make it happen.”

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