Her life as a blind sled dog racer
Born to be a racer
As a baby Rachel's dad would pull her along on the back of his sled. Together just the two of them and their dogs would ride around the snow covered hills of Oregon. Rachel's dad Steve is a very successful racer himself, he has won multiple big races and has faced many challenges. However, none of those races could have prepared him for what was to come. Rachel was born on February 1, 1985. She was born blind with a condition called congenital achromatopsia. This would cause for Rachel to be legally blind for the rest of her life. Rachel accepted the blindness but didn't let it limit her. She would help her dad care for their dogs, and soon she developed a love for the sport of dog sled racing.
Rachel with her dogs
No End In Sight
At age 11, Rachel entered her first race. This was a two day race around Frog Lake in Oregon. Rachel ran the race with a team of two dogs. keeping her pace Rachel was able to keep up with the other racers. At certain points in the race she would have to face difficult twists such as her sled overturning, or unexpected obstacles. Staying persistent, Rachel was able to finish 3rd out of 16 teams. When she came into the finish line Rachel announced, "This is what I was born to do, and I hope this is the start of a great career. For me there is no end in sight."
Rachel praising her dogs after running a race
Running to the Finish
By the time rachel was in high school she had not only become a great sled dog racer, she was also one of the schools best track stars. Rachel got asked to run in a race at the Olympic trials. This race included other impaired athletes. By competing in this race, Rachel received a lot of attention from the media. One particular company wanted to get a first time ever meeting of Rachel and Marla Runyan. Marla is an Olympic gold medalist that is one of the best runners in the world. "Running with marla was like running with an old best friend, she was so kind and has filled me with inspiration and determination to work hard at what I love." Rachel described how meeting Marla has helped her with her training because she saw how marla has trained hard to get where she is today and that Rachel wants to have that feeling of accomplishment herself.
Rachel running track
Dreaming Of the Iditarod
Ever since Rachel started her sled dog racing career, she has had one dream, to run the Iditarod. The Iditarod is a 3000 mile race, that takes over two weeks. When Rachel runs a race she does require an assistant to act as her pair of eyes. When she requests to enter the Iditarod, Rachel requests an assistant that would do nothing more than ride a sled in front of her and warn her of up coming trail conditions. The Iditarod trail committee disagrees with her request and turns down her entry into the race. Rachel however does not back down, she goes to the ITC meeting multiple times, and battles over her access into the race. After months of on going arguing, Rachel won and was allowed to run in the Iditarod. In the race she encounters many obstacles including, sick dogs, frostbite, and much more. These obstacles did get the best of Rachel, she was forced to drop out of the race. However she did return to the race the following year to finish it.