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Ekran's adventure just starting

Kevin Klott

GALENA -- Although she's raced hundreds of miles already, Sigrid Ekran's adventure on the back of a dog sled has only begun.

About two weeks after the 1,100-mile Iditarod ends, the 28-year-old Norwegian who lives in Fairbanks will set forth on another sled dog expedition. This one will cover nearly 300 miles and take about two months to complete.

Ekran is teaming with veteran explorer Will Steger and five dog drivers from three different countries on a 1,400-mile exploration across Ellesmere Island to document global warming.

Ellesmere Island is the chunk of land closest to the North Pole and faces serious environmental issues, according to globalwarming101.com. Global awareness of the region's starving wildlife, retreating pack ice, melting glaciers and changes in polar history is the purpose of the expedition.

"It's an expedition, but we're not in a hurry because the challenges will be different," Ekran said Saturday after she finished feeding her dogs in Galena. "I'm looking forward to it. It's not going to be anything like the Iditarod."

If Ekran finishes her Iditarod by Wednesday, she has just 16 days to recover. The expedition launches out of Resolute in northern Canada on March 28. But she isn't concerned about the quick turnaround.

"The only thing I'm worried about is being a little tired," said Ekran, who's traveling with five mushers between the ages of 21 and 28. "Maybe I won't be so active socially and just sleep at night."

Ekran's friends who are following the Iditarod call her a social butterfly and a true adventurer when she's in her element. She lives in a remote cabin in Eureka outside of Fairbanks, which used to be the home of the late Susan Butcher.

So when she traveled to New York City last month for a meeting with National Geographic, the metropolis was a culture shock.

"It was like Crocodile Dundee in New York," said Trude Paulsson, who is on the trail, updating Team Norway's Web site. "She had trouble with the revolving doors."

Ekran was a little embarrassed when the public relation folks of the expedition rented a stretch limousine for mushers to ride around the city. It wasn't the best way for them to promote the fight against global warming, Ekran said.

"It was different," she said. "A lot of tall buildings and tall people."

She is excited by another 1,000-plus mile adventure, which is expected last into May. After placing 20th in last year's Iditarod to win rookie of the year, Ekran wasn't sure how to fill her days with adventure.

Spending two months near the North Pole will have to suffice.

"I hear it's really nice there in April."

Find Daily News sports reporter Kevin Klott at adn.com/sports/kklott or 257-4335.

Whaley bows out at Cripple checkpoint

Rookie Rodney Whaley, 55, of Franklin, Tenn., scratched at Cripple on Sunday, concerned about the health of his team. He had 13 dogs left in his team.


By KEVIN KLOTT
kklott@adn.com