22-year-old Hanna Lyrek putting on a strong rookie Iditarod performance so far
MCGRATH, Alaska (KTUU) — Hanna Lyrek is a 22-year-old musher who was born in Alaska but moved to Norway when she was just 5 years old and she has been on a dog sled ever since.
“We had her on a sled as soon as she could stand on a sled and even before she could stand on a sled she was in a sled,” Don Lyrek, Hanna’s dad said.
Running dogs runs in Lyreks family her dad Don Lyrek ran and finished the Iditarod in 1995 and her mom ran and finished in 2005. According to Don, when Hanna saw her mom finish at just 5 years old it sparked her dream to run the race and even though she is finally realizing that dream, she says it feels somewhat surreal.
“I kind of have to remind myself that I’m doing it sometimes, like just coming down here I had to like tell myself, ‘hey, you are actually doing it’ because I don’t know if you realize when you’re doing it that this is it,” Hanna Lyrek said.
Lyrek is easy to spot in the dog lot with her team decked out in all bright orange gear from one of her sponsors, QRILL PET. You wouldn’t know that she is just 22 years old if you just watched her take care of her dogs — she already has the experience of a well-seasoned dog musher.
“I’ve done a few races in Norway and I’ve always kind of been the youngest one so far and what’s fun is about dog mushing is that it doesn’t matter if you are 22 or 60 ... you are the same. I never think about it in that way, because I’m just a musher like everyone else,” Lyrek said.
In the McGrath checkpoint Lyrek had to drop two dogs due to some bacteria found in their lungs, but when she left the checkpoint she was still in high spirits. Her father was also in high spirits watching his daughter drive off into the night on the same trail he raced 26 years ago.
“It’s already emotional now, just watching her and just talking about it, it’s watching your daughter live her dream. It’s just — it’s amazing,” Don Lyrek said.
Lyrek is the youngest racer in this year’s Iditarod and right now is putting on a performance that would be worthy of a rookie of the year. However, only time will tell as she still has over half the race to go.
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