Recently, fifth grade English students explored, read, and wrote a personal narrative essay about the Iditarod Sled Dog Race that takes place every year in March. The race, known as "The Last Great Race," begins in Anchorage, Alaska the first Saturday of March and lasts up to 2 weeks. The students created a fictional account of their own Iditarod experience where they became the "musher." They used facts about the race to make their narratives more believable, accurate, and also creative. To help readers "see" and better understand their incredible Iditarod experience, students were encouraged to use vivid adjectives and exciting verbs along with helpful/informative details. We thought you'd like to see a sample essay. The one below is by Elle Kihnke.
The 1990 Iditarod
Growing up in a small town of Michigan, I became very interested in sled dog racing because there was lots of snow and I enjoyed playing outside with my dogs in the snow. My name is Yakarvi Roslyn and at the age of twenty-one I qualified to be in the Iditarod by completing the Yukon Quest. I was super excited to be in the Iditarod, a sled dog race in Alaska, which is held every year on the first weekend in March. I had to train my dogs and myself, so I worked very hard to earn the entry fee of $4,000. Because it was my first year, I was a rookie. At the musher's banquet, which is held two days before the Iditarod, I picked the number seven for my bib.
We started the race in Anchorage. I was very excited, and my dogs were jumping up and going crazy because they were ready to run and didn't want to wait any longer. I met my Iditarider who would be riding on my sled with me for the first eleven miles. Her name was Chelsea and she was really sweet. I was very happy to be taking her to Willow, which is where the race re-starts. Before I knew it, the race began. Chelsea loved to feel the wind in her face as we glided across the snow, and the dogs were calm now that we had started sledding.
I was kind of disappointed when we arrived at Willow. I enjoyed having Chelsea with me, but now she had to say goodbye. Once it was time to re-start, I was pumped to get out there and show everyone that even though I was new at this, I was going to rock. To Yentna I went, the sunshine gleaming down on my team and I; it became one of the best moments of my life. I felt like it would be wrong to be anywhere else in the world but there at that moment. Then it happened, I was already at Yentna and the moment ended.
For the next three days, things went pretty smoothly. I was at McGrath when I decided that at the next checkpoint I would take my first out of two, eight -hour rests. The break was nice for the dogs but it felt like it went by so slowly. When it came time to leave again, it was night and I was happy that I got all that rest in during the day. It was a beautiful night and the stars were shining bright. The dogs' eyes were glowing in the darkness, well at least I thought they were the eyes of my dogs.
I heard barks and felt my dogs jumping around and going ballistic. Then there was a growl and I knew that it didn't belong to one of my dogs. All of a sudden, my heart stopped and I was dead meat. I was still a little stunned when it came to me, I had an axe and a flashlight! I shone my flashlight on the growl and figured out what is was, exactly what I thought, a wolf. First I blinded him with my flashlight and took out my axe and killed and gutted my first animal.
After that night I kept going and tried to forget about it. I made it all the way to no-man's land and used my twenty-four hour stop without too many people passing me, despite my mental conditions. Every day I thought about it and decided that if I didn't get over it, they would take me out of the race, so eventually, I let it go. The race conditions were amazing and the snow was perfect. I could literally see the Burled Arch and hear the crowd at the end. It was an amazing feeling after all of that to end up in Nome in seventh place! What an accomplishment, I was so proud of myself that after the race, all I wanted to do was celebrate my beautiful Siberian Huskies, that was my happy ending.
(The photo is of a bulletin board in the Rider Center that the 5th graders made to display their essays. Each student created a dog for the sled race.)