Young musher lives her dream

Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009

While the Iditarod gets more media attention than any other sporting event in the state, the junior version of the Last Great Race barely gets any time in the lime light.

Photo Courtesy Of The Triumvirate Theatre
Photo Courtesy Of The Triumvirate Theatre

However, a local teenager is trying to change that.

Miranda Rizzo, of Nikiski, along with cinematographer, Bob Mabrey, have filmed a documentary entitled, "Trails North - One Girl's Quest to Run the Junior Iditarod."

"It's a great little project. No one has ever done anything on the Junior Iditarod," said Miranda's father, Joe Rizzo in regard to the film funded by the Alaska Humanities Forum.

The film follows a first-time Junior Iditarod competitor, Meredith Mapes, 14, from Knik.

The videographers followed Mapes from the beginning of her 2007 season, including training days in the summer, all the way through to her crossing the finish line of the 2008 Junior Iditarod.

Mapes finished 14th out of 21 finishers the year the film was made, but moved up to eighth out of 21 finishers this past season.

"We followed the race on snowmachines and interviewed them on the trail," Rizzo said.

The filmmakers also traced back to the roots of the race, for those unfamiliar with how it all started.

"Interspersed in the film we talk about how the race began -- the Iditarod and the Junior Iditarod, and we talk about the Serum Run, and Joe Redington and Dorothy Page," Rizzo said, the latter two being considered the "father" and "mother" of the Last Great Race.

"We also have a bunch of historic photos from different museums," he added.

As to the purpose of the film's making, Rizzo said the primary goal was education.

"The idea was to teach kids about the Iditarod by highlighting kids doing the junior race," he said.

That's not to say the film doesn't capture the action of a dog sled race in all its glory.

Rizzo added the film has plenty of footage capturing the spirit of these young adventurers and their canine companions.

"Doing 140 miles by dogteam at 14 years old is pretty impressive," he said.

The film also has a special guest appearance and interview by Libby Riddles, of Homer, the first woman to win the Iditarod.

The documentary will be shown at Triumvirate Theatre on Saturday at 4 p.m. Running time is 26 minutes.

Admission is free, and DVDs of the film will be available for purchase for $10.

"There were 100 DVDs made, and Meredith took 50 and Miranda took 50. They're selling them to support their dog habit," Rizzo said, since his daughter is a budding musher with 14 dogs of her own.

Immediately following the documentary, "Eight Stars of Comedy Gold," an original comedic show taking a humorous approach to Alaska history, will be performed by Matt Fisher, Alden Ford and Justin Tyler of Sidecar, a professional improvisational theater troupe from New York City. Admission to this show is $7 for adults and $3 for children.

For more information on either showing, contact Joe Rizzo at 776-9450 or 394-1159, or on the Internet go to

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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