TogoRun is proud to sponsor Mille Porsild in the Iditarod 50th anniversary race. The 2021 Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award recipient and 2020 Iditarod “Rookie of the Year,” Mille breaks barriers on and off the trail. We are excited to cheer on Mille and her amazing dogsled team as they race across 1,000 miles of frozen arctic tundra – from Anchorage to Nome – in what is known as the “Last Great Race on Earth.”
Of course, another famous race to Nome holds a special place in our hearts here at TogoRun – the 1925 Race for Mercy, when an outbreak of diphtheria threatened the village of Nome and only sled dog teams could deliver life-saving serum through blinding snow and 80 degrees below freezing weather. Musher Leonhard Seppala and his 12-year-old trusted lead sled dog Togo went five times the distance of any sled dog team to ensure the delivery of the life-saving serum. The Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award, which goes to the musher who takes exemplary care of their sled dogs during the race according to race veterinarians, is a beautiful tribute to the remarkable bond between mushers and their beloved dogs.
Today, Mille and 16 other women mushers from 4 countries – the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway – are competing in a sport dominated by men but not exclusive to them. In fact, the Iditarod is one of the few if not only major international sporting events that allow women and men to compete as equals against each other. Over the last 50 years, the number of women competing in the Iditarod has grown, with major milestones reached by such pioneering women as Libby Riddles, who was the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985; Susan Butcher who dominated the Iditarod in the late 1980s, winning in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990; and DeeDee Jonrowe, who finished 32 of her 36 Iditarods, more than any other woman. She also has 16 top-10 finishes, including two as runner-up, and she received the Seppala Humanitarian Award in 2012. She is an inspiration to all of us at Togo and we love seeing her reporting from the trail during this year’s race. She believes – like many other Iditarod aficionados – that Mille has a real chance to win this year’s race. And we agree!
Born in Denmark, Mille knew from a young age that she wanted to live her life under the stars with her sled dogs. Her great-grandfather founded the world’s first Arctic research station in Greenland and she grew up listening to sled dog adventures. She started mushing in 1992, running a team of husky sled dogs for a polar explorer on a three-month-long dog sled expedition in Canada, and has done 15 long-haul expeditions since then. Each expedition lasted two to six months and was as long as 3,000 miles in Greenland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Alaska, and crisscrossing Canada. In 2011 she entered her first sled dog race, running the 800-mile Nadezhda Hope race in Chukotka, Russia. In 2020, she ran the Iditarod for the first time and was named “Rookie of the Year.” She ran again in 2021 and not only was the proud recipient of the Seppala Humanitarian Award, she also set a new time-record for mushers from outside the US.
We applaud Mille and all the female mushers and their great sled dogs racing this year! In their honor, TogoRun is excited to donate $1 (up to $2,500) for every share of our #IditarodWomen social media posts to support the non-profit Alaska Solstice Search Dogs(AKSSD), dedicated to training and deploying search dog teams, including many amazing sled dogs, to assist law enforcement in the search, rescue, and recovery of missing persons. DeeDee Jonrowe is among the strong and brave volunteers training strong and brave dogs to get the job done.
Please share our posts to support AKSSD and follow Mille and her sled dogs’ run on iditarod.com. It will most certainly be a Great Race!