A dream 10 years in the making: North Dakota teen competing in Jr. Iditarod

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Eva Robinson has wanted to mush in the Jr. Iditarod since she was a child.

“When I came to my parents telling them I wanted to run the Jr. Iditarod I was 5 years old and they were like ‘Oh yeah, sure that’s awesome!’ because I’m 5 years old, I’m gonna be a ballerina tomorrow and the next day I’m a doctor. And I came to them the next year and the next year. And they didn’t– they blew it off until I was 8 years old and they said ‘OK, fine. This is legit,” Eva said.

Her parents talked to another North Dakotan musher, found out the cost of running the Jr. Iditarod and gave her the goal of raising $8,000.

In order to fund her dream, in 2014, she started her own business — Eva Diva Puppy Snacks — to reach that goal by 2022.

“$1,000 a year isn’t a lot, but to an 8-year-old it is. So I needed to figure out a way to raise that money and I decided to make dog treats,” said Eva.

Eva, her dad and her 16 Alaskan huskies traveled nearly 3,000 miles to Alaska, and in a few weeks, she and her divas will be competing.

“We run the dogs every other day at this point. Increasing three to five miles each week and then this weekend we’re actually going to do a double run. So we’re gonna do a run with an 8-hour rest and another run that helps the dogs, teaches them to recover. It teaches them the checkpoints,” said Justin Robinson, Eva’s dad.

Eva is the only North Dakotan competing in the Jr. Iditarod and says she travels with a lot of state pride.

“I’ll go to a race in Wisconsin or Minnesota and they’ll be like ‘Hey, North Dakota’s here’ and so we try to be positive. We try to be as nice as possible because we’re representing all of North Dakota in our actions and attitude,” said Eva, which the whole town of Cavalier displayed by backing and supporting Eva the whole way.

“They talk about raising a child, it takes a village, or it takes a community and we are so grateful for all the different sponsors,” Justin said.

Something the Robinsons also take with them everywhere no matter where they race off to.

“We’re never gonna let them fail. We’re never gonna give up on them or let them give up on themselves. So we never push them to the point where they can’t go on,” said Eva.

The Jr. Iditarod is on Saturday, Feb. 26 in Alaska.

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