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Rachael Scdoris

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Rachael Scdoris and dog team
Rachael Scdoris and dog team

Rachael Scdoris is a professional sled dog racer born with Congenital Achromatopsia, a rare vision disorder causing near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and color blindness. She compares it to seeing the world through a “Vaseline-covered lens.” Despite this disability, she still decided to pursue sled dog racing from an early age. In 2001, at age 15, Rachael attracted national media attention as the youngest athlete to ever finish a 500-mile sled dog race, when she completed the Pedigree International Stage Stop Race in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In 2003, the Iditarod Trail Committee made a unanimous decision to approve Rachael's request for special accommodations that would allow her and her dog team to compete safely in the Iditarod. And, like any Iditarod musher, Rachael would first be required to successfully complete two Iditarod qualification races.

This decision meant that Rachael would be allowed run the 1,150 mile continuous race and its qualifiers with a visual interpreter who, would ride ahead of Rachael to warn her of obstacles on the trail ahead. Rachael officially qualified for the 2005 Iditarod in March of 2004 by completing the two required qualifying races in very tough conditions. Rachael went on to make history in 2005 as the first visually impaired athlete to compete in the Iditarod. However, 700 miles into the race, Rachael’s dogs became sick, and she had to quit the race.

On Saturday, March 18, 2006, Rachael realized her dream when she became the first legally blind athlete to finish the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. After 12 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes on the trail, Rachael and her visual interpreter, Tim Osmar, passed beneath the finish line in Nome, Alaska. Rachael finished 7th out of the 20 rookies who started the race.