Talia was born in the year 2000 to an animal loving family in Brule Wisconsin. Her father is a logger from Cornucopia, Wisconsin and her mother is a nurse practitioner who learned to mush sled dogs while working as a public health nurse in Bethel Alaska.
From birth, Talia was surrounded by horses, dogs, cats, llamas, peacocks, chickens, and other various farm animals. It was natural that at 3 months of age, Talia would sit in the car seat on the dogsled while 2 older lab retrievers towed her around the woods with Tim, her dad, while he checked on timber sales or deer trails. At the age of 10 months, she went on her first dog powered ride on her own mini dog sled while her father jogged in front of the team. At age 4, she was running a team of 2 dogs around the farm with mom following on the snow machine. Talia ran her first race at the age of 8: the Bayfield Apostle Island Race which offers an 8 mile family division. At age 11, she progressed to a 20 mile recreational race.
By age 14, she was managing a team of 6 dogs and was competing against adults in the 40 mile Ely Wolf Track Classic race. It was at this race the Martens found two friends from the South Shore of Lake Superior, Matt and Paula Rossi. They suggested that Talia try Jr. Iditarod up in Alaska. So this year, 11 th grader, Talia Martens is taking her team and family on a 3100 mile journey up the ALCAN highway to run the 100 mile Willow Jr Race and the 150 mile Jr. Iditarod.
Talia and brother Morgan (age 10) have raised 7 pups for the racing team. Last fall, the kids and their dogs graduated from Mushers Boot Camp hosted by Jamie Nelson and Ann Stead in Cook, Minnesota. Jamie and Ann challenged the students with many skills including mushing through water filled ditches and on thickly wooded trails. Since then, Jamie has spent countless weeks as Talia’s mentor. The dogs follow commands, pull hard, lead the team through knee deep mud trenches, swim in ponds and get along with each other. These dog skills will help Talia in the Alaska races.
In addition, many other experienced mushers have helped Talia learn about proper care of dogs, equipment and training techniques. Peter McLelland of White Winter Wilderness in Ely, Minnesota has been mentoring several junior mushers. Peter is teaching safety when on long distance night trips, winter camping and survival skills. Ryan Redington, who lives in Moquah, Wisconsin has also spent time with Talia on training runs, offering generations of wisdom on dogs mushing.
Taila’s bucket list includes finishing a clean race with healthy fit dogs, challenging herself physically and mentally, and seeing the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. She is not sure where all this will lead her, but she is nearly packed and ready to go.