Sept. 12th Update: Fall training at Dream a Dream Dog Farm began on Sept 1st. I am running 2 12-dogs teams. I am still waiting to see if I will be running the 2018 Iditarod. Working on getting a sponsorship.
August 1st Update: After 14 years of searching for answers for my mystery medical problems, 10 years ago today, I was diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare and life-threatening disease with no cause, no cure. Since then I have taken life 10-feet-at-a-time and done amazing things: I held the NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) Banner on the summit of Mt Everest and at the finish line of the 1000-mile Iditarod. In 2015, NORD awarded me the first-ever Rare Disease Public Awareness Award for my work in rare disease advocacy. Forrest Gump was right, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” I took what I got and ran with it, literally
July 12th Update: Wow how time flies! Summer is here, we are running the dogs a few miles at a time (because of the heat) and working on getting our house completed (short building season here in Alaska). The question I am getting now is, “Am I going to run the 2018 Iditarod?” Answer: Stay tuned.
May 3rd Update: We are very busy working on many projects. From getting the winter, racing gear stored, to the spring cleaning that goes with the snow melt, to continuing the work on our new home. Busy, busy everyday, all day, but it is all good.
March 23rd Update: On March 18th I crossed the Iditarod finish line in Nome after 12 days, 2 hours, 57 minutes, and 31 seconds on the trail winning my second Red Lantern Award. I beat the fastest Red Lantern time by 1 day, 1 hour, and 45 minutes. The dogs did amazing!!!
March 4th Update: Today we are off and running in the Ceremonial start of the 2017 Iditarod. It takes place in Anchorage. Tomorrow we leave for Fairbanks where the re-start (real start) of the Race is on Monday, March 6th at 11 AM Alaska time.
Feb 11th Update: Well, it is official – the Iditarod Re-start is starting out of Fairbanks due to the poor trail conditions in the Dalzell Gorge. This is the same route I ran in 2015. It was a very cold race with temps dropping to negative 50-60 degrees F.
Jan 20th Update: More snow fell so we are able to train out of the kennel which is great! Saves time and money. Training is going great. This year’s Iditarod team should be awesome. Next race is the T200-mile starting Jan 28th.
Dec 4th Update: Wow, time is flying. We are living in our new house and when I am not at the kennel working with the dogs I am trying to get the house squared away. It finally snow here in Willow and I have run teams with a sled the past two days. Life is good.
Oct 9th Update: Racing season is fast approaching and we are busy training dogs. It is so great to be in Willow living a dream. Vern and I are signed up for our 2nd race, The Copper Basin 300 starting Jan 14th.
Sept 1st Update: Time is flying! The house we are building in Willow, AK is coming along very well. Movers are coming in a few days to ship our stuff. I just sign-up for the 1st race of the season (McGrath Trail Mail 202) starting Dec 18th. So, I am busy wearing lots of hats, but we are getting things done and moving down the trail of life.
June 26th Update: It’s official: I am signed up to run the 2017 Iditarod under Vern Halter’s kennel. AND I won the $4000 entry fee back!!! That is pays for 4000 booties!!!! Awesome day with the volunteers, teachers, and other mushers.
June 13th Update: As of June 4th, I am an Alaskan resident!
June 1st Update: I can’t keep it quite any longer, I will be signing up to run the 2017 Iditarod under Vern Halter and Susan Whiton’s Dream a Dream Dog Farm. Many thanks go to those who have supported me runing next year: Lee, Kari and Kevin, Kevin, MaryJo and Jeff, Jon, Rob, Bob, and of course my amazing husband, Larry! If you would like to join the team, follow the Support Cindy button on the Home Page.
May 27th Update: The documentary, BANNER ON THE MOON, is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. The film links are on listed the Documentary Page or you can go to the distributor and search for the film name.
April 15th Update: Life is as crazy as usual. After 5 years of work, Banner on the Moon showed at CSUF last Saturday and it should be available for On Demand viewing within a few weeks. Our house in Willow, AK is in the beginning stages of construction and should be completed by October. Exciting stuff – love life!
March 9th Update: A lot has happened since my last update. We just returned from watching the start of the 2016 Iditarod. It was very strange to not be running in this year’s race. The day before the race started, I spoke at the Iditarod Winter Teacher Conference, great group! And we bought a lot and are building a house in Willow, 6 miles from Dream a Dream Dog Farm – we are moving to Alaska!
Feb 27th Update: First screening of Banner on the Moon was yesterday at the Keck Graduate Institute with Dr. Ian Phillips, Director of the Center for Rare Disease Therapies. It was a private screening for their annual Rare Disease Day at KGI. Very busy with getting the film ready for distribution and we are heading back to Alaska for the start of the 2016 Iditarod. I can’t wait to hugs the dogs!
Dec 25th Update: Larry and I are back at Vern Halter’s Dream a Dream Dog Farm in Willow. We were welcomed with -7 degrees F. Yesterday was the first time I have run dogs since I crossed the Iditarod finish line in Nome on March 22, 2015. It was a beautiful day AND Larry went with me on the runs (2 teams). Life doesn’t get much better!
Dec 18th Update: Wow, how time flies! I have been very busy but in a good way. I just completed teaching my fall classes at CSUF. In a few days, Larry and I are flying back to Dream a Dream Dog Farm in Willow, AK. I am so excited about seeing the DOGS!!!!
Oct 19th Update: Yesterday I spoke at the Association of Applied Sport Psychology Conference in Indianapolis. The title of my presentation was Personal Stories of Resilience. After my presentation there was a panel discussion which had a very interesting effect on me: until then, I had taken for granted my ability to preserver.
Oct 3rd Update: Why I have been off the grid: 1. Six weeks ago I had lumbar spinal fusion surgery. Old injury that needed to be fixed, and 2. Yesterday our house closed escrow! So we have been very busy, but in a good way. Setting up for the transition to the next phase of The Abbott’s Journey in Life.
Sept 6th Update: After many years of hard work by many people, our documentary film, Banner on the Moon, has been completed and we are now looking at distribution options. Rare disease advocacy, summiting Mt. Everest, completing the Iditarod, and making a feature-length film – wow, it is mazing what one can do when one puts one’s mind to it!!!
July 3rd Update: On June 11th, we went to Alaska to visit the dogs and some friends. A few days after we arrived, a huge, fast-moving wildfire broke out in Willow. At first Vern’s kennel was housing evacuated people and dogs, but then we had to evacuate! It was a crazy few days. People in the community, and from around the country, reached out to help in any way possible. Many people lost their homes and kennels but the dogs were saved, as was Vern’s kennel!!!! Recovery/rebuilding is underway.
May 25th Update: Last week at the National Organization of Rare Disorders Gala in Washington DC, I was honored with their Rare Disease Public Awareness Award. It was great to meet so many individuals and organizations who are truly dedicated to helping people with rare diseases. “Alone we are rare. Together we are strong,” NORD.
April 22nd Update: Yesterday I saw my Wegener’s specialists at UCLA, my 1st check-up since completing the Iditarod, and by all indicators, the disease was not awakened by the rigors of running the race. My main doctor just stood there looking at me, shaking his head, and saying “You should not be able to do these things!” Well,” I replied, “My motivation, my mission is a powerful tool.” Combine that with the support of an amazing husband, Larry, and Vern Halter; and well, you know that rest.
March 28th Update: On Sunday, March 22nd at 9:19 PM I crossed the Iditarod finish line in Nome! It took me 13 days, 11 hours, 19 minutes, and 51 seconds. What an incredibly difficult but rewarding experience – to travel 1000 miles across the Alaskan wilderness with my team of amazing canine athletes. And I finally got the NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) banner that I held on the summit of Mt. Everest under the burled arch in Nome! I am now back home in California but miss my dogs very much! I call them “my dogs” but they belong to Vern Halter and Susan Whiton of Dream a Dream Dog Farm.
March 7th Update: Today was the Ceremonial Start of the 2015 Iditarod in Anchorage. Even with the lack of snow and warm weather, the team did great. We leave for Fairbanks in the morning. The race re-start is at 10 AM March 9th. My next post will be after I have crossed the finish line in Nome – estimated date March 28th.
February 25th Update: Rare Disease Day is Saturday, February 28th. NORD (The National Organization of Rare Disorders) is showing a preview of my documentary, Banner on the Moon, on Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington DC. I wish I could go but I will be out on the trail running my team’s last set of training runs before the Iditarod starts on March 7th.
February 14th Update: Earlier this week the Iditarod announced that, do to dangerous trail conditions, the re-start has been moved from Willow to Fairbanks. This has only happened one other time (in 2003) but we, in 2015, will get to go through the historic village of Huslia.
February 9th Update: Now that my two 300-mile training races are complete, the focus has shifted to the Iditarod. We are working hard to get my Iditarod drop bags ready. There are thousands of details that go into this process. I am expecting to have about 55 bags go out to the check points with everything I and my dogs will need for this 1000-mile journey across Alaska.
January 22nd Update: The auction has closed and the Katmai Lodge Alaska & Markall Inc. Foundation for Disease and Disability Awareness, my primary sponsor, won my Iditarider sled for the start of the 2015 Iditarod! You can learn more about them at www.klamf.org.
January 7th Update: Well the Knik Race had to be rescheduled due to poor trail conditions. Our first race is this Saturday – the Copper Basin 300-mile Race. It’s a tough one. I should finish sometime Tuesday evening. We run these shorter races as if we were running the Iditarod – it is about teaching us and the dogs consistency not finishing first, so we will always be toward the back of the pack – we have different goals. To follow the race, you can go the Iditarod tab, select List of Races, and click on the link.
December 10th Update: I have been in Alaska since last month. It finally snowed and training is progressing. My first race is the Knik 200 mile race starting on Jan 3, 2015 – as long as the rivers are frozen and the snow doesn’t melt.
November 8th Update: Banner on the Moon sneak preview showed at AARP’s Movies for Grown-ups Showcase last evening at Regal Cinema at LA Live on a 70 foot screen! I had a lot of fun with Valerie during the Q&A afterward. You can see ABC’s film guru, George Pennacchio, review under the “Documentary” menu tab.
October 28th Update: Lots going on. My documentary film, Banner on the Moon, is showing on Nov 7th at the AARP’s Movies for Grown-Ups Showcase at the Regal Cinema at LA Live. The TEDx Talk link is live; if you would like to listen to my talk, you can find the link under “Speaking 2014” menu tab. My 2014 Iditarod team is the photo for 2015 Iditarod calendar, March – the Race month! Today I saw my doctors at UCLA and all test results indicate that the disease is being quite. All systems are a GO!
September 27th Update: We are very excited to announce that Valerie Harper is the narrator for our documentary film Banner on the Moon! Not only she extremely talented, she is a wonderful person! Stay tuned for film showing date.
September 13th Update: Last night I spoke for TEDxRedondoBeach. Larry said there was about 600 people in the audience. TED is a wonderful program where people come together to hear new ideas. If you have not been to a TED Talk, put it on your list. I will post the link to my talk when it becomes available.
August 18th Update: Very busy getting ready for CSUF classes to begin on Monday, the documentary film is now in post-production and moving toward its release date, and I am getting things in order for the upcoming training/racing season. Exciting times – just a little crazy.
July 13th Update: Today I saw the rough cut of my documentary film! My director, Renee Sotile, did an amazing job weaving together the complex story of my life with Wegener’s granulomatosis, summiting Mt. Everest, and running the Iditarod.
July 5th Update: Just returned home from a great trip to Alaska. I signed up for the 2015 Iditarod Race, spent time at the kennel with my dogs, and visited the wonderful Katmai Lodge Alaska! Check out the photos in my Gallery.
June 9th Update: I am very excited about is becoming the spokesperson for the newly created Katmai Lodge Alaska and Markall Inc. Foundation for Disease and Disability Awareness. Their support is making it possible for me to run the 2015 Iditarod! Thank you Katmai Lodge and their new foundation for help to make my dream come true! Katmai Lodge Alaska & Markall Inc. Foundation for Disease and Disability Awareness.
April 24th Update: I am in the process of updating my website. I am aware that the “Contact Me” link does not work at this time. I will get things up and running soon.
March 30th Update: Congratulation Erin Montgomery for being selected as the 2015 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail!!!!! I met Erin last June at the Iditarod musher sign-up and volunteer picnic. I was the rookie musher her students at Comanche Middle School followed through last season’s training and racing.
March 29th Update: The 2014 Iditarod race is one for the history books. The winner set the fastest finish time (8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, and 19 seconds) as did the Red Lantern (last musher into Nome at 13 days, 4 hours, 42 minutes, and 8 seconds). Why was it so fast? The lack of snow! We were running on ice, rocks, frozen dirt, all of which it is difficult to slow the teams’ speed. Twenty of the 69 mushers who started the race, scratched for various reasons: injuries, broken sleds, and trail/weather conditions. The race course is being described as the most difficult and dangerous in its 42-years history.
March 11th Update: I am back home in California. My race ended on Day 3 at the Rohn Checkpoint. The Dalzell Gorge was a crazy run. The dogs did amazing and were healthy, happy, and ready to run; but I was banged up and knew the next run was suppose to be worse, and I scratched. As of now, the first 5 mushers are into Nome. I wish the remaining teams the best on what was/is a very difficult race.
March 1st Update: Ceremonial start was today. Re-start tomorrow. Larry made it up to see me off at about 3:30 pm.
February 18th Update: Yesterday the Iditarod Trail Committee met and made the final decision on where the race’s re-start will take in Willow on March 2nd. They are sending trail crews out to re-route some sections and repair/improve others.
February 8th Update: Well, received word yesterday that the unusually warm weather and lack of snow in Alaska has caused the Iditarod Race Committee to consider an alternate route for the race which would start out of Fairbanks on Monday, March 3rd. It has been done once before, 2003. While the change creates all kinds of preparation issues, I would rather be safe than sorry. The final announcement will some after drop bags are in, so making adjustments now.
January 12th Update: Ran the Knik 200-mile Race last weekend. The dogs did great! I am home for 5 days for doctors appointments. I received fantastic news from my eye specialist, it looks like I may be able to postpone my cataract surgery until after the Iditarod – that is a huge relief! Still have to fly home Feb 1st for a final exam, but the doctor is 90% sure that my vision will be good enough to run the race.
December 22nd Update: I am home for 6 days to give final exams and complete grading for my Health Science classes at CSUF. I also have several doctors appointments and a conference to attend. I fly back to Alaska on Christmas day. Crazy living and working in two places!
November 28th Update: Thanksgiving at the Dream a Dream Dog Farm. Larry, my husband, flew in from California last night. This is his first time at a working kennel in winter training season – should be interesting to see what he thinks. Things are going well: dogs look great, I am learning to drive a different type of sled, and learning a new trail system (yes, I have taken a few wrong turns). First race is coming up on Dec 14th. You can go to my Races Page and follow the link to the Excursions website.
October 28th Update: Working hard to get things at work and home ready for me to spend most of the next 5 months in Alaska. Stay tuned for updates and new photos.
September 28th Update: Packing for my first training/racing rotation to Alaska. I am very excited to start work at Vern Halter’s Dream a Dream Dog Farm. It’s very tricky to live and work in California and train and race in Alaska but it is worth it.
September 13th Update: Well, I cannot get the fund-raising presentation together, just not enough hours in a day or days left before I resume my training/racing rotations to Alaska. The fund-raising items are available from this website under the DONATE menu tab.
August 17th Update: Putting together a From Everest to the Iditarod Presentation/fund-raiser on Sat, Oct 19th in the evening in Irvine, CA. There would be an entry fee of $20-25. After the AV presentation, there will be a live auction for all kinds of items. Also, there will be used Iditarod dog booties, my book and t-shirts, and posters for sale. All money raised will go toward paying my 2014 Iditarod expenses and help me get the NORD Banner to Nome! will post more information soon.
August 7th Update: Spent the past month working on CSUF fall and spring semesters’ course materials, updating my website, and arranging travel/training-racing schedule for the next 8 months. My life is like a jigsaw puzzle, living and working in California while training and racing in Alaska, not to forget about all of my medical issues which require regular and frequent visits to UCLA. So many pieces which make the big picture – crossing the finish line of the 2014 Iditarod with the National Organization of Rare Disorders Banner. I am very thankful that my husband, Larry, is so supportive! I could not do this without him by my side, if at times, it is only in spirit.
July 4th Update: Had a great time in Alaska. Went by and hugged my old team, spent time with old and new friends, and started setting up at Vern Halter’s Dream a Dream Dog Farm, where I will be training and racing from during the upcoming season.
June 29th Update: I signed up to run the 2014 Iditarod! When I ran it the first time, no matter the outcome, I had no intention of ever running it again. The time, money, and stress on my family is tremendous.
June 28th Update: I am the luckiest person on this planet. My husband, Larry is my true soul mate. He has summited some of the world’s highest mountains with me, explored the ocean’s mysteries, and supported me on my crazy adventures. Tomorrow he will be with me as a start/continue on my life’s journey.
June 7th Update: Last week I had surgery on my good eye in an attempt to repair some of the damage caused by the disease. The recovery time is a month of very limited activity. Also, my pelvic fractures are healing. If all goes well, I should be back in action by the end of June.
On March 3, 2013, I started the 1000-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race. About 20 miles out, I injured my leg and thought that I may have to scratch at the first checkpoint. After resting for a few hours, I felt better and decided to run to the next checkpoint. In this way, I went from checkpoint to checkpoint until, on day 10 and 630 miles into the race, my condition had worsened and, for the safety of my team, I scratched at Kaltag.
Knowing that this was the end of my race, I went to my sled, pulled out the NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) banner (which I had held on the summit of Mt. Everest in 2010), walked to the front of my team, put the banner on the ground near my dogs’ feet, and took a picture of the banner at MY finish line. When I got back to Anchorage, I was told that I hadn’t injured my leg; my pelvis was broken in two places! My race ended sooner than I would have liked but I had a fantastic time, a truly amazing experience!
January 30th: I completed the my final qualifying race and I am now offically entered in the 2013 Iditarod Race. You can follow my progress on the Iditarod website. The race begins on Saturday, March 2nd.
January 20th Update: This racing season has been difficult due to the warm conditions in Alaska this year. My first two races were canceled, the Top of the World 350 went well, and the Copper Basin 300 was challenging. Next is the Nothern Lights 300 which starts January 25th. If all goes well, upon completion – I can offically send in my 2013 Iditarod application!
November/December Update: Spent my time between training in Alaska and teaching in California. The first race of the season was canceled due to lack of snow but there should be enough for the next several races. I am home for a few days finishing up with my work for CSUF. I head back to Alaska December 23rd for the Top of the World 350-mile Race which starts on Decmeber 27th.
September Update: I just went live with my rare disease awareness documentary film fund-raising site. Check out the trailer and please share the link with everyone you think might be interested – I need your help! And thanks in advance!!!!
To view the film trailer go to RACING FOR LIFE.
August Update: I spent the first part of the month in Alaska working at the kennel. I had to come home a few days early due to a family emergency. The fall semester has started at CSUF and I am working on getting my documentary film into production – which is quite a task! While I am extremely busy, things are going well and am I really excited about the upcoming racing season.
July Update: After 5 years of giving up everything in order for me to follow my dreams of climbing Everest and racing dog sleds, my husband and I finally went on a much needed 3-week diving vacation. Now, I am back to working on the thousands of details involved with the upcoming racing season.
June Update: Live is still very busy. I am working on getting my fall 2012 and spring 2013 teaching materials ready along with next year’s income tax season preparations not to mention managing my home, personal, and business affairs. Living in California and dog sled training/racing in Alaska is difficult to balance and I must plan far ahead to make it work. And then there is the film, Racing for Life, that I am working on.
May Update: Busy month, but when is it not: finished up the semester teaching at CSUF, went up to Lance Mackey’s kennel for a few days, trying to get a finalize tax returns, had several speaking events, and working on getting sponsors for next season’s racing and a network to pick up the production of Racing for Life.
April Update: In a few weeks I will be heading back to the Comeback Kennel to visit for a few days. I am really looking forward to working with the dogs and hearing Lance’s Iditarod stories.
March Update: I am very busy teaching at CSUF, working at my own business, and trying to get backing for a television documentary called Racing for Life. I miss the dogs and running out in the Alaskan wilderness. Racing is a very difficult but additive sport.
February Update: Back home after finishing the the Yukon Quest 300-mile Race. I had a great time and my team did fantastic! Go to the Photo Gallery to look at some pictures from the race. Working on getting back up to Alaska for more races this season but it’s difficult with work and family.
January Update: Sorry I have not posted more updates but I have been flying back and forth to Alaska dog sled training and now racing. You can follow me by going to the Iditarod Blog where I am posting pictures and updates.
September Update: I had a great time training with Lance Mackey at his Comeback Kennel nears Fairbanks, Alaska. The work is hard, but I love the dogs. I am very much looking forward to the up-coming months of training and dog sled racing.
August Update: The book is out in paperback and eBook formats! Just like climbing Mt. Everest, I never thought I would write a book: Dreams do come true! Now it’s time to focus on promoting my book, teaching at CSUF, and training for my next rare disease awareness event – The Iditarod!
July Update: Went on a short vacation and summited Mt. Shasta (14,179 ft) on July 27th.
June Update: Yea! The book is done and in for publishing. It should be ready for release in July.
May Update: I have been working day and night to get my book ready for release. Aside from actually writing my book, there must be hundreds of other details!
April Update: Checking on an amazing opportunity for Rare Disease Awareness 2012! It’s going to be Leap Year, so I have to do something really special and it’s pretty hard to find something to top summiting Mt. Everest. I can’t say what it is yet – I’m waiting for “approval” to get things mushing.
February Update: My husband and I went to Roatan for a diving vacation and I got some great underwater photos withboth the NORD Banner and the Vasculitis Banner. Check my Photo Gallery on Feb. 28th for the NORD picture (very cute) and I will post the Vasculitis Foundation picture in May for Vasculitis Awareness Month.
November Update: After months of medical treatments and related therapies, I had to cancel my Mt. Aconcagua climb scheduled for next month. I was planning on getting pictures of me on the summit withboth the NORD and Vasculitis Foundation Banners to be used for Rare Disease Day in February and Vasculitis Awareness Month in May.
– – – –
I had not been home from Mt. Everest for a week when my husband came to me and asked about climbing Mt. Aconcagua in December. At that time my brain was still trying to process what I went through to summit Everest. After a week or so I was more recovered and able to look ahead to another big mountain climb. The result: We leave December 19th for Argentina and our second attempt to summit Mt. Aconcagua. Maybe this time the weather will be better and I will not break any more bones.
We will be climbing with Mountain Trip.