At 27, Christina is the youngest musher to run the race this year and is looking forward to coming back to the Challenge so she can catch up with all of the mushers. She continues to come back because she says it has a wonderful welcoming atmosphere that includes awesome volunteers, organizers and vets.
This year for Christina is more of a personal challenge since getting sick on the Yukon Quest. In 2013 Christina made it almost to the 1/2 way mark at Dawson City before coming down ill on the trail. At 23 she attempted and almost made 500 miles into the middle of the Yukon.
She has come a long way from hooking up her younger brother to a sled then making him run around to pull her. It must have been a great relief to him when she got her childhood pet, a German Shepherd named Cheyenne.
While pretending to be a musher with Cheyenne, she kept hearing a voice in her head, "don't do it Christina, no, you're not getting your own team, you are NOT dog sledding!" That voice in her head turned out to be her mothers voice.
Guess she didn't listen to her mother after all as she is now the owner with a full kennel of Alaskan Sled dogs at Mush McMurray in Fort McMurray.
When I ask mushers about a personal accomplishment, or something they are proud of, Christina mentioned something that I would never have thought of, a challenge that most mushers I'm sure have to face head on. She says that dog sledding helped her to overcome her fear of the dark and is now her favorite time to run. However she added that just being able to train a team of dogs, work with them and to travel many miles alone together is something she will always be proud of.
Running with a team of amazing dogs would also help boost confidence in a young woman out in the wild alone. One dog, from Aaron Peck, named Gogi, also known as the Princess of the kennel, stands out amongst the rest. Christina says she has to be one of the smartest dogs she has ever met, and during the Yukon Quest said she actually saved her life. When you meet up with Christina you will have to ask her to share that story with you.
Demi is her other leader, also from Aaron, a loyal, smart and very determined leader. Demi's mom, Colors, used to be Christina's main leader who is now a retired couch potato sled dog. However her spirit lives on in Demi, making it feel like she is still running with the team.
You'll see Christina this year with a handler all the way from England, Maddie. The two of them have already built team spirit as Maddie helped with the rebuilding after the fire that struck Christina's home town this past summer. The dogs know her well and they are all looking forward to working together.
There are no specific plans set beyond this race, but there is a very good chance you will see Christina back at the Challenge next year.
Photo Credit: Christina's Facebook Page