FAIRBANKS - It all started, as so many grand adventures do, with a case of boredom.
During his junior year at the University of Georgia, Thomas Rosenbloom was searching for something to catch his eye.
The Wichita, Kansas, native turned to Netflix, a decision that inspired him to embark on one of the most challenging journeys in the world.
“I saw this documentary, “The Toughest Race on Earth” on the Iditarod,” Rosenbloom, 26, said in a telephone interview. “I thought it was the coolest thing that these people were out there kind of thumbing their noses at some of the most difficult terrain and wilderness you can experience with a team of sled dogs.”
Although Alaska wasn’t foreign to Rosenbloom – his father and stepmom purchased an RV and moved to the state full-time while he was pursuing an undergraduate degree in philosophy at UGA – the Iditarod and sled dogs were.
He knew his life would never be the same after he finished the series, which was released by Discovery Channel in 2008 and highlighted select racers and their dog teams during the 1,161-mile race, in one day.
“I sent a message to my dad saying, ‘I’ve got to run the Iditarod before I die,’” Rosenbloom recalls. “He sent me a message back, ‘We need to talk.’”
It turned out his father was a big fan of the Iditarod. He sent a collection of books to Rosenbloom so he could learn the history of his newfound passion.
During his last two years of college, Rosenbloom read anything he could get his hands on about the Iditarod. Before he discovered “The Toughest Race on Earth”, he thought about pursuing a PhD in psychology.
But by the time he received his undergraduate degree in 2012, his mind was made up.
He was going to Alaska.
And it didn’t take him long to realize he made the right decision.
“I completely fell in love with the state when I visited. I thought it was the most beautiful place,” Rosenbloom said. “I loved the rugged terrain and all of the wilderness. I loved how untouched it felt.”
Rosenbloom decided to fill out job applications at different sled dog kennels across the state with his goal of eventually running the Iditarod in mind. In 2014, he wound up with Mike and Caitlin Santos at Wolf’s Den Kennel in Cantwell.
Learning the art of dogsledding wasn’t easy. Rosenbloom paid his dues by helping take care of the dogs and feed them during his first two winters.
It all paid off this year, though, when he qualified for the Iditarod after completing the Copper Basin 300, Northern Lights 300 and Goose Bay 150 qualifying races.
“It’s a dream come true,” Rosenbloom said. “I’ve been working for this for three years now and the dream has been alive for more than five. It’s really exciting for me to get to the starting line.”
The Fairbanks restart forced Rosenbloom and his team to make adjustments, but the Kansas native said the change is the least of his worries.
“The Fairbanks restart definitely changed things a little bit. We had to undo some drop bags and repackage them and figure out where everything is going,” Rosenbloom said. “But it wasn’t too painful.
“With the Fairbanks start, we could all experience, most likely, some really deep cold. Cantwell is a very windy place, but it’s not hurricane force most of the time. The coastal wind is another thing that will be new for the dogs and I.”
Rosenbloom has realistic expectations for his first Iditarod. Although he said he will try to put his dogs in the best position to succeed, he noted that getting to the starting line was an accomplishment in of itself.
“I am just going out there and finish the race,” he said. “I’ll try to get the best place possible, but I’m not going out there to try do anything but finish the race with a happy and healthy dog team.”
Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @bradjoyal.