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SSHS Student Council hopes to help
former classmate ' the Iditerod'

Jim Gallea on the course in the Junior Iditerod race in Alaska. He's run that race twice, and now is setting sights on being the youngest to run the 1,162-mile Iditerod and will set several records in the process.

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
November 26, 1998

(Editor's note: the Seeley-Swan High School Student Council has undertaken a project to help Jim Gallea (class of 98) with costs of racing in the Alaska Iditerod, the over 1,000-mile sled dog race. The council has put together the following information, with details at the bottom of the story on how you may help out.)

Jim Gallea is an 18 year old dog musher from Seeley Lake, Montana. He was raised around sled dogs from the time he was a young boy living in northern Minnesota. Jim watched and helped his parents run many races in Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska; and got interested in racing on his own at the age of 12.

Jim's first race was a sprint race at the 1993 Holland Lake Races. The only other competitor in that particular race was his father, Bill. Jim took second by only a few minutes. The following year, he set records for being the youngest ever competitor in the 80-mile Holland Lake Race and the 70-mile American Dog Derby.

In 1995, he again ran the Holland Lake Race. That year, he set yet another age record by being the youngest competitor to run in the Seeley Lake 100. Since then, Jim has run the Seeley Lake 100 a total of four times, always finishing ahead of teams driven by older and more experienced drivers.

In 1997, he set a record of a new kind by being the first Montanan to compete in the Junior Iditarod, a 160-mile race in Alaska, being only the third person from the Lower 48 to compete in that race. He ran the Junior Iditarod again in 1998.

In addition to setting records for being the youngest musher in several races, Jim has also received many awards from the races that he has run. He was given the "Most Promising Rookie" award after completing the 1995 Holland Lake Race. He received the "Best Cared for Team Award" in the 1996 Seeley Lake 100 for excellence in dog care. In 1997, he received the Junior Iditarod "Sportsmanship Award." And in the 1998 Junior Iditarod, he was given the "Humanitarian Award," an award given to the musher who demonstrates the best care for his dogs in the race

Now, Jim has set his sights on another race - the 1,161-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He will once again set an age record: he will be the youngest musher from the Lower 48 to run the Iditarod, the "Last Great Race on Earth."

Jim began to think about running the Iditarod when his father ran the 1996 Iditarod. After running two Junior Iditarods and watching his mom finish her first Iditarod in 1998, he knew that he wanted to run the race to keep up with the family tradition. Jim and his parents, Bill and Cindy, will be the only family (both parents and a child) to have run the Iditarod.

The Iditarod is, to put it mildly, a grueling event, where a person puts himself or herself against dangerous trails, extreme winter conditions, fierce storms, and worst of all, sleep depravation. Some mushers have gotten as few as 12 hours of sleep during the entire race!

The race is a total of 1,161 miles long and runs from Anchorage to Nome. It takes as little as nine days or as many as 20 days to complete. It is totally unassisted. Mushers ship food and supplies ahead of time to checkpoints. At those checkpoints, mushers must care for and feed their dogs and themselves on their own. A musher must be completely self-reliant.

Why do such a thing? Says Jim, "I see the Iditarod as a challenge, a chance to put myself and a team of incredible athletes to the test. It's also a chance to learn about myself and explore aspects of life that some people will never have the privilege to encounter. It is a chance to really know what it is to be alive."

To become the youngest musher from the Lower 48 to run the Iditarod, Jim will be running dogs from the kennel of Iditarod musher Mitch Seavey. Mitch is a five-time Iditarod finisher who has finished in the top twenty the past four years in a row. He took fourth in the 1998 Iditarod.

Like many of the top mushers, Mitch sends his yearling dogs (dogs between a year and two years old) on the Iditarod with another musher. That musher begins to train the team nearly six months before the actual race start. Once in the race, the driver of the "puppy team" must take excellent care of the dogs and make the race as fun as possible for the dogs. The goal is to give the team experience so they know how to run the race when they start to run with Mitch in the following years. The driver of the puppy team this year will be Jim Gallea. He plans to train a team that has the potential to win the Iditarod within a few years.

Running the Iditarod takes more than a good dog team and a courageous driver. It also takes a fair amount of money and equipment. Because Jim is running a yearling team for Mitch, many of the training, feeding, and racing expenses are covered. However, he still needs to provide all of his own personal gear, clothing, food, and racing expenses.

Below is a list of some of the things that he will need to be able to successfully complete the Last Great Race on Earth: expedition class winter clothing; arctic-weight sleeping bag; lights and batteries for night running; race entry fees; 15 days of food; miscellaneous personal supplies; and survival gear.

How You Can Help

Gold Sponsor- $500. You receive your logo on Jim's parka and sled; a large ad on Jim's personal website; your name as Jim's sponsor on Iditarod race information; a collared team shirt; a framed picture of Jim and his dogs; a subscription to Jim's newsletter (two issues); and a personal appearance and presentation at your business or home.

Silver Sponsor - $300. You receive your logo on Jim's sled; a small ad on Jim's personal website; your name as Jim's sponsor on Iditarod race information; a team T-shirt; a framed picture of Jim and his dogs; and a subscription to Jim's newsletter (two issues).

Bronze Sponsor - $200. You receive your logo on Jim's sled bag; your name on Jim's personal website; your name as Jim's sponsor on Iditarod race information; a team hat; a framed picture of Jim and his dogs; and a subscription to Jim's newsletter (two issues).

Booster Club - $25. You receive a team button and a signed picture of Jim and his dogs.

Checks may be made payable to Seeley-Swan High School, P.O. Box 416, Seeley Lake, MT 59868.

Student Council faculty advisor Dennis Schneiter said the cost of running in the Iditarod is between $18,000 and $22,000. The Student Council hopes to raise $3,500 to held Gallea with the costs.

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