Girls and Hero Journeys
Cindy Abbott is now in what Iditarod reporters and fans call the Back of the Pack.
That’s the tail end of the line of teams spread out across hundreds of miles of Alaskan wilderness.
In any other sport, this would be defeat.
In Iditarod, the fact that you are still journeying is a major victory. If you come in last, you get the Red Lantern Award, and it is not a joke; it is a sign of persistence and the ability to finish the journey.
Her first attempt on Nome was in 2013. She was forced to scratch at Kaltag with an injury.
On March 3, 2013, Cindy started her first Iditarod. About 20 miles out, she injured her leg and thought that she may have to scratch at the first checkpoint. After resting for a few hours, she felt better and decided to run to the next checkpoint. In this way, Cindy went from checkpoint to checkpoint until, on day 10 and 630 miles into the race, her condition worsened and, for the safety of her team, she scratched at Kaltag. When she got back to Anchorage, she was told that her pelvis was broken in two places!
In 2014 she returned to the race but was injured and scratched in McGrath. As it turns out, the third time was a charm for Abbott who completed the race in 2015, receiving the Red Lantern.
Oh yeah, and she is the only woman to have climbed Everest and run the Iditarod.
All while dealing with a rare and life threatening disease…
Cindy Abbott, 58, was born and raised in Nebraska. After graduation from California State University, Fullerton, with a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology in 1996, she became a professor there and taught Health Science for 23 years. Cindy has always been drawn to the world of extreme sports. Already an extreme scuba diver and underwater videographer, in 2007, at the age of 48, she took up mountain climbing with the single goal of standing on the top of the world. A few months after she began training, Cindy was diagnosed with a serious and rare disease (Wegener’s granulomatosis), but she was determined to achieve her dream and on May 23, 2010, after 51 days of working her way up the mountain, Cindy stepped onto the summit of Mt. Everest holding the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD) banner.
…did I mention the extreme scuba diving and underwater videographing?
She would have been 51 when she summited.
Oh yeah, she wrote a book…
Oh yeah, and this…
My vision is not good. When I’m moving in the Alaskan wilderness at dark during a storm with no trail markers, my vision problems are probably the scariest thing for me. My dogs rely on me.
This year, she is 58.
She is presently at mile 256, moving at about 9.6 mph (average speed of 8.7, a nice brisk pace for dogs). She is not last.