BRULE, Wis. (WFRV) – The saying goes, blood is thicker than water. If you have any idea about what it takes to be a dog musher, than you know you have to have pretty thick blood in order to get by in that sport. Mainly because you are running a team of sled dog in sub zero temperatures. So it’s a good thing the members of the Martens’ family has thick blood, because dog mushing is also in their blood.
“It’s pretty amazing, continuing the legacy of not only our family, but kind of Redington, getting to have a Junior Iditarod win. That was cool,” 14-year-old Morgan Martens said with a grin. He won the 2021 Junior Iditarod this February behind the mighty power of Ryan Redington’s Iditarod sled dog team.
Morgan has been around sled dogs since he was born. His mother Janet was a handler for dog mushers during the years she spent living in Bethel, Alaska, a small village.
She and her husband Tim moved to Brule, Wisconsin and slowly adopted a few dogs here and there and when they had kids, introduced them to a sport that was near and dear to both of their hearts.
“Tim and I have raised our kids to be independent minded. We don’t force them into this. They just have a natural interest,” Janet Martens said. “We give them a little nudge once in a while to go clean the dog yard but they’re usually out there before we have to anyway.”
Her husband says its taught his children valuable skills that’s helped shape them into the people they are today.
“The dog mushing part of it.. has been a discipline,” Tim Martens said. “I think maybe it would be harder to learn just outside of dog mushing. They’ve learned a lot of responsibility and self sufficiency.”
Dog mushing has been in the Martens family for over 25 years. Not only did Janet start all of it back when she was living in Alaska, Morgan’s older sister Talia ran the Junior Iditarod as well. Completing his place in the family sport, Morgan then won it all, giving his family a moment they’ll never forget.
“Honestly, I’m really proud of him. For stepping up and being brave and just doing it, Talia Martens, Morgan’s sister said. “It takes a lot of guts to do this kind of stuff. Not everybody is capable, of mushing. It’s only for certain people.”
His father was moved with emotion when talking about watching his son cross the finish line in first place.
“I was just so proud to see him, do what he did. I don’t think anybody else or any of the other mushers, I don’t know if they took him seriously,” Tim said quietly. “He was the only kid from out of Alaska in the race, so maybe they underestimated him. It was a very proud moment, to see him come across the finish line.”
For Morgan, it was just about being out there with his dog team.
“Just the adrenaline. And being out there with the dogs, in the Alaskan wilderness. Being with all the other mushers, too,” Morgan said. “Meeting some new friends. Just having a good time.”