Updated: March 03, 2021 09:22 PM
Created: March 03, 2021 08:07 PM
If there is a human equivalent to a dog wagging its tail, Morgan Martens would have been doing it Wednesday afternoon. Fresh off his Jr. Iditarod win, he said he'd do it all again.
"It was awesome. Lots of fun," Martens said. "Great experience."
The teen from Brule, Wis., just returned home after his 150-mile trek through the Alaskan wilderness.
"I didn't expect to place high or win the race," he said. "I ... just wanted to finish with a good team of happy, healthy dogs."
He started and finished with 10 dogs from Beargrease runner-up Ryan Redington's kennel. Redington lives in Wasilla, Alaska for most of the year.
"He gave me a lot of advice," Martens said. "He told me like 100 things to do right before the race."
And right from the start, there was a good sign. Morgan drew bib No. 6, the same number his sister Talia had when she ran the Jr. Iditarod in 2018 and the same number Redington wore when he won it in 2000.
Martens said temperatures were perfect, in the teens and 20s. But there was snow to contend with, about 4 feet at the middle checkpoint, Yentna.
"There was a lot of wind too, so there was a lot of drifts over the trails. And that made it pretty slow," he said.
But he was able to push through. He saw a moose cow and her calf at one point.
"They were a little ways off the trail, but I kind of came up behind them and I spooked them. Kind of scary because I didn't see them at first," he said. "My dogs didn't see them at all."
By the time he left the final checkpoint to head for the finish, he had a 15-minute lead. His mom, Janet Martens, streamed his win live on Facebook.
"Morgan just came out of the woods, and he's headed up to the finish line," she said in the video on Sunday afternoon. "How cool is this? Can you believe it?"
His sister Talia and Redington were there to greet him too.
"I didn't think it was real. It was just -- it was amazing," Morgan said.
He won a dogsled, some mushing gear and a scholarship. And the incredible showing in his first Jr. Iditarod earned him Rookie of the Year honors too. But he's pretty humble about the feat.
"You set a goal, and you try your best to get to it," he said. "When you achieve that goal, it feels really amazing."
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