Travis Beals was mushing dogs even before he was born — his mom joked with friends that her expected child provided excellent “weight training” for her kennel of 14 sprint dogs. Once Travis was born, he was put in a car seat, strapped to the sled and was allowed to tag along with mom as she trained the team. Travis has been hooked on mushing ever since.
As a young child, Travis often wandered the dog lot, baby blanket dragging behind. His parents would often have to remind him not to share his bottle with his companions, but he proved to be a poor listener. Whenever Travis was upset, he’d visit with the dogs. His parents once thought he’d run away, only to find him asleep with one of the dogs inside its dog house.
When Travis got older, however, his mother decided to move on from mushing. Travis, however, couldn’t. He’d caught the bug. He begged his mother to help him find a local musher to help mentor him. Fortunately for Travis, there was a prominent musher in the area who was willing to step in: Rick Tarpey. Travis Beals worked with Rick for a number of years before deciding, at the age of 15, that he wanted to start his own kennel. His mother warned him, from years of her own experience, that it would not be easy. Owning a kennel and feeding a long distance dog team is no small task financially and requires lots of time and energy. But Travis was driven.
Using dogs he bought and bred on his own, Travis began entering a number of local junior races. He quickly found himself at the top of the podium including a rookie of the year and second place performance in the 2009 Jr. Iditarod. Having outgrown the junior races, Travis then competed in a number of other races placing well and taking recognition in some of the top distance mushers in the world. People began to notice that Travis Beals was going to go places.
Although Travis is now too big to fit in a dog house, his devotion to his dogs hasn’t changed. His sled dogs often experience nights in the house and he still experiences nights out in the dog lot.
Travis met his fiance and kennel partner Sarah Stokey in the fall of 2010 through a mutual friend. He soon realized she was just as devoted to dogs as he was: they’ve been running dogs and Turning Heads Kennel together more or less since.
With a lot of training, a little luck, and a ton of support from his friends and family, Travis Beals signed up for the 2013 Iditarod. It was his first 1,000-mile race. The race proved a true test of endurance and was a remarkable experience. At the finish line in Nome, Travis asked Sarah to marry him and she said yes.
Travis Beals 2014 Iditarod Fundraiser by The Alaska Dispatch
Coming Together by Brian Smith of the Peninsula Clarion (this is a terrific article.)
Local Iditarod Musher Celebrated by The Seward Phoenix Log
Travis Beals & Matt Giblin Help Musher Jodie Bailey by Terrie Hank for the Iditarod
Engaging Race by Terrie Hank for the Iditarod
Travis Beals Crosses Norton Sound by Alaska Photo World (this is just a really cool photo)
Tuesday News From Unalakleet by Terrie Hank for the Iditarod
Travis Beals Youngest On The Trail by Terrie Hank for the Iditarod
How Kid Rock Saved a Rookie’s Race by Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News
2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race Begins (video interview) by The Anchorage Daily News
Iditarod Rookie’s Dog Truck is His Home on Wheels (video interview) by The Anchorage Daily News
Mushers Take On A Challenge by The Seward Phoenix Log
Musher Undeterred by Seward Flooding (video interview) by The Anchorage Daily News
A Rookie’s Race To Nome by Josh Divoky, Iditarod Educational Journalist
Travis Beals Enters 2013 Iditarod by The Seward Phoenix Log