The 2014 Iditarod will go down as one the most notorious races in history for its unforgiving trail, but finishers Charley Bejna and Anna Berington will remember it for a little bit more: It's where they found each other.
The two Knik mushers have been dating since the end of that race. Bejna said they've known each other since Berington moved to the Knik area last year, but they didn't really connect until they began traveling together during the 2014 race.
"If you can deal with each other on the trail -- no sleep, ups and downs -- I guess it's a good match," Bejna joked in Fairbanks before the start of the 2015 race.
"Misery loves company," Berington said. "Intense experiences bring people closer together. You really get to learn what a person is like."
Berington finished in 39th place in 11 days, 14 hours and 15 minutes. Bejna crossed the finish line four hours later in 41st.
Both said they weren't sure if they would travel together this year, but were excited they would at least start two minutes apart. Bejna randomly drew bib 37 and Berington got bib 38.
Berington said she wasn't worried about complications of having a boyfriend on the trail. She pointed out that she and Bejna wouldn't be the only couple headed to Nome. They join husband-wife mushers Allen Moore and three-time runner-up Aliy Zirkle, 2011 champion John Baker and Katherine Keith as well as twin sister Kristy Berington and her boyfriend, Paul Gebhardt.
"We're here to do what we're doing," Berington said. "We're just in race mode."
Alaska Dispatch Publishing