Join host Robert Forto as he welcomes Iditarod musher, Cindy Abbott to Mushing Radio.
Cindy Abbott, age 55, 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. She currently lives with her husband Larry and daughter Teshia in Irvine, California. She teaches Health Science at California State University, Fullerton. Cindy has always been drawn to the world of extreme sports. Already a 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.
Cindy learned about the Iditarod in the early 1990’s but it wasn’t until 2004 when she came to Alaska and took her first ride on a dog sled. In 2011 she began working under the guidance Lance Mackey’s Comeback Kennel. She immediately fell in love with the sport, the Alaskan people and culture, but most of all; she fell in love with the world’s most amazing athletes – the dogs!
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 had worsened and, for the safety of her team, she scratched at Kaltag.
“Knowing that this was the end of my race, I went to my sled, pulled out the NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) banner (which I had held on the summit of Mt. Everest in 2010), walked to the front of my team, put the banner on the ground near my dogs’ feet, and took a picture of the banner at MY finish line. When I got back to Anchorage, I was told that I hadn’t injured my leg; my pelvis was broken in two places! My race ended sooner than I would have liked but I had a fantastic time, a truly amazing experience!”
Once back in Anchorage, Cindy was told that she had started the race with a broken pelvis!
Now running under Vern Halter’s kennel, Cindy is back. This time she plans on getting her National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD) Banner photo standing under the Burled Arch in Nome.
Everest or the Iditarod: Cindy admits that, for her, long distance sled dog racing is much more difficult than summiting Mt. Everest – something she never thought that she would say.
Since her diagnosis, Cindy has become a very active rare disease awareness advocate for the National Organization of Rare Disorders and the Vasculitis Foundation.
For more about Cindy, visit her website at www.reachingbeyondtheclouds.com