Cody Strathe, a Stevens Point native and resident of Fairbanks, Alaska, recently competed in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Dog Sled Race. The race started Feb. 2 in Whitehorse, Yukon and ended in Fairbanks, Alaska. Strathe finished the race on Feb. 15 and his team won 15th place.
Strathe, who has lived in Fairbanks since 2005, grew up in Almond and Stevens Point and attended Washington Elementary School and P.J. Jacobs Junior High School. He is a 2001 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) College of Natural Resources.
Strathe said he became interested in sled dog racing because of its popularity in Fairbanks.
“It’s the mushing capital of the world,” he said. “I think there’s more sled dogs than people.”
Strathe said people use sled dogs to travel to local shops and bars in Fairbanks. The popularity of the sport, as well as his love of outdoor activities and carpentry led him to start making sleds for dogs. At UWSP, Strathe worked at Outdoor EdVentures and enjoyed teaching people how to make snowshoes and build kayaks. His hobbies turned into a business when he moved to Alaska, he said. Strathe and his wife, Paige Drobny, own Dog Paddle Designs, which make and sell handmade skinboards, dog sleds and accessories.
“I built a sled for my wife before we had dogs,” he said, laughing.
The couple also owns Squid Acres Kennels, which cares for 50 racing and expedition huskies. Drobny is currently racing in the Iditarod
Strathe said his dogs are trained year-round for the Yukon and Iditarod races, moving to cooler climates in the summer. Once the weather is below 40 degrees, the dogs can start training for races that start in January. Dogs can run up to 60 miles per trip, and when they are fully trained, can run up to 100 miles per day.
Strathe said his goal was to win the Rookie of the Year award for the Yukon Quest race, but was up against some tough competition from racers who had also competed in the Iditarod. For the Yukon Quest race, his team included veteran dogs that had raced with Drobny in the 2012 Yukon Quest race, but also some young dogs.
For information about photographer Vincent Gaudin, visit www.vincentgaudin.com.