Name: Charley Bejna
Residence: Addison, Illinois
Years involved with Iditarod: Going on 10
Iditarod role: I’m currently a race judge this year
Current Location: Unalakleet, Alaska
Date of Photo: March 16, 2020
What, who or how and when did you first get involved with the Iditarod?
I got involved with Iditarod when I was younger. Followed it through the internet and mainly the newspaper. I came up for my first Iditarod as a fan, I believe, 2006, 2007. And I witnessed the start and pretty much fell in love with the race and all the dogs. And then I was IditaRider one year, and then I was a taxi driver. Then I handled for GB Jones in 2010. Then I started running some shorter races, and finally qualified for Iditarod. Then my rookie year was 2013, and I did the next six years. So I did a total of seven Iditarods.
What is your Why? Why are you here TODAY and involved with the Iditarod?
I am here today and involved with Iditarod because I love dogs. It’s amazing to see what these dogs have done through the years for me and for other mushers; znd also going to the checkpoints and seeing people that you’ve met several years ago. This year I wanted to volunteer as a race judge so I can pretty much pay back for all the help that everybody else has helped me throughout the years. And I will definitely continue either being a race judge or getting back out on the trail with my team in the future.
Tell me about just one of your most memorable Iditarod experiences.
One of my most memorable Iditarod experiences was finishing my first Iditarod in 2014. The reason was is, I’ve put in an amazing amount of time and money into it; raising puppies from, obviously, yearlings and then seeing them grow throughout the first few years. And just putting all the time with each individual dog and seeing them excel and get down the trail. To finish the race is definitely an amazing accomplishment.
What do you know for sure?:
What I know for sure in life is, I will always have dogs. And the reason is because they make me happy. And dogs are always happy. They never complain. They motivate me to just continue to keep on living my life. If I’m a part of theirs, which I know I am, and they’re a part of mine, we’re a complete set.