Feb 3, 2016 5:39 PM

13-year-old NH girl and her dogs training with eyes on 2018's Junior Iditarod


ALTON - Lara Renner, a New Hampshire teenager has her eyes on a big prize. The 13-year-old plans to race in the famous Iditarod.

"It's the goal every race, is a privilege for what I put into for the dogs to train and for me," Lara said.

She first found her passion for racing after randomly finding her father's old stuffed-animal Huskie.

"Well, I was in love by then - and I did all the research I could about the Iditarod," she said.

Her father, Steve, never got the chance to race as a kid since he grew up in Philadelphia.

But living in NH now, the sport has created a strong father-daughter bond. They found a mentor to teach Lara the ropes about the sport.

"I scooped poop, I changed waters, I brushed the dogs; I just walked around with them, and finally, I got to come training," she said.

Since she got her very own dog for her 10th birthday, Lara and her team have quite literally taken off.

"To have raised them - and then to see her grow up with them - has been really, really amazing," Steve said. "To grow in confidence and ability and patience."

Another love of the Renner family? Star Wars.

The dogs Solo, Willow, R2, Chewey, Luke, Lea, Storm and Blaster all tie in with the theme.

"Snow Speeder is our vehicle," Steve said. "One of the movies - you see flying across the frozen planet of Hoth. Hopefully, we’ll be flying across the track."

Lara is preparing for the Great North Woods Sled Dog Challenge.

She'll be the youngest competitor there. These races are stretch 20-miles long and in the thick of the deep northern woods, it requires a lot of patience to commit to the sport.

"I have to get off the sled over and over and over again to drag them out of ditches, to get them out of the woods, to make sure they get the right command," Lara said.

Training can be tricky, especially this year because there's not enough snow.

But Laura still trains three-to-four hours a day, four days a week, replacing the sled with an the ATV when needed.

Come race day, it's all up to Lara and her eight dogs.

"That idea of letting your 12-year-old - at the time - off into the woods and having no idea what's going on out there, and finally see her coming back - that was really emotional," Steve said.

Lara will compete in several other races in the northeast this year as she gets ready to compete in the Junior Iditarod in Alaska in 2018.


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