By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Motorists in Southwest Kansas may have had trouble maneuvering through streets and highways due to recent weather conditions, but most may have never experienced traveling more than 1,000 miles – without the comfort of the cab of a vehicle.
This Wednesday, Iditarod racer Karen Land will be in Liberal to share some of her experiences with the world-famous Alaskan sled dog race. Land will be giving two presentations, one at noon in the library at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School and one at 6:30 p.m. at Memorial Library.
Among her experiences, Land will talk about qualifying for the Iditarod.
“She was in several races prior to the Iditarod,” said Memorial Library Children’s Librarian Carol Rittscher. “Of course, it’s much shorter distances than that race is. She moved up into the ranks pretty quickly. It takes quite a while normally to get all those qualifying races in, but she did it pretty quickly.”
According to her bio, Land grew up in Indianapolis among suburban strip malls and popular sports, and as a child, the snow and ice of Alaska seemed like another planet.
Her love for dogs, horses and all animals eventually steered her trail to a sled dog kennel in Montana, and her life went, well, to the dogs.
“She also went to work for this veterinarian taking care of his kennel full of dogs,” Rittscher said. “He had more than 100 dogs that he raced. She took care of them. She got a healthy dose of dog contact that way. She’s also a writer by trade. These experiences have given her a lot of interesting things to write about.”
Land is writing several books about her Iditarod experiences, the mushing life and all of the dogs she has met along the way. She also writes a column for the Great Falls Tribune and the Kansas City Tribune, and she writes for magazines.
Land travels the country with her sled dog, Borage, who will be with her Wednesday in Liberal, talking to schools, libraries, corporation and convention groups. Rittscher said Seward County is part of a tour which includes other parts of the High Plains.
“From here, she’s going to Borger, Texas, and on down in that area,” she said. “She was able to attach us to that part of her tour. We spoke with Matt Pannkuk at Seward County Community College. He said it would be a neat idea to have her out there over the lunch hour. She’ll speak to students, and anyone from the public who wanted to come is certainly welcome as well. We’re going to have her out there, and then she’ll be in here that evening.”
Rittscher said the program is for all ages.
“Sometimes when I talk about things for children, adults think there’s nothing in it for them,” she said. “This is really an interesting opportunity for adults as well.”
Rittscher said Wednesday’s presentation will be interesting.
“We’re excited about this program,” she said. “People in Southwest Kansas probably don’t have a whole lot of exposure to dog sleds or the whole mushing experience. This will be fun and unique for them.”