Tennessee National Guardsman to compete in Iditarod

FRANKLIN, Tenn (WVLT) -- A Master Sergeant in the Tennessee National Guard will be competing in one of the greatest challenges on earth.

Rodney Whaley, 56, of Franklin, will become the first Tennessean in history to compete in Alaska's 2008 Iditarod, billed as "The World's Last Great Race."

Whaley is a veteran of 24 years in the Guard, and one of only 102 people in the world to qualify for the 1,159-mile race.

Whaley will be yelling "mush, mush" as he pushes his 16 sled dogs in the event which starts Saturday, March 1, in Anchorage, Alaska.

The mushers will be on the trail from 10-17 days, accompanied only by their dogs as they battle the fierce elements along the dangerous route.

Whaley grew up in Alaska, and he will be sponsored on the race by the Army National Guard.

"The Iditarod is the ultimate experience and my life-long dream," Whaley said. "Now, utilizing what I've learned in the Guard and with their sponsorship, it's a reality."


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