Not every all-American girl dreams of becoming a musher, but for 21-time Iditarod Sled Dog Race competitor DeeDee Jonrowe, it was just a fact of life while growing up in a remote western Alaska backwater. "There are no roads out there," she explains. "I always loved dogs, so I got myself a small team to travel to the villages for visits. After a while, I started to think: Maybe I'll race in some of the local village races." She was good, and the grueling 1,121-mile Iditarod seemed like the next logical step. Since her first Iditarod in 1980, she's returned to compete almost every year. Since then, she's held the respect of her fellow mushers; then everything changed for her last winter when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She endured chemotherapy while family and friends continued training her beloved dog team, and in March, only weeks after completing her treatments, Jonrowe mushed her way through the entire Iditarod, placing eighteenth -- a remarkable finish in her weakened condition.
Jonrowe is in Denver this week to compete in the sold-out Denver Danskin Triathlon as a member of the Rocky Mountain Team Survivor wave (she's an accomplished triathlete). As a staunch and vocal spokeswoman for fellow cancer survivors, she'll also be giving a presentation this evening at 8 p.m. at the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th Street, Golden, to raise funds for RMTS; the local nonprofit provides health and fitness programs for women cancer survivors. Tickets are $12; for details, call 303-247-1212 or log on to www. rockymtn-teamsurvivor.org. -- Susan Froyd
All about Ben
Forget Tiger. The buzz will be about Ben Curtis as the rookie phenom tees up today at The International at Castle Pines Golf Club. No doubt the Ohioan will still be glowing from his out-of-nowhere victory at July's British Open. His fame will add luster to the contest -- now in its seventeenth year on the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout in the foothills southwest of Denver -- which previously has attracted PGA veterans such as Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Vijay Singh. Joining Curtis for the four-day tourney this year will be pros Davis Love III and Tom Lehman. And they won't be here on holiday.
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"Castle Pines is the toughest course in the state," says Jon Rizzi, editor of Colorado Avid Golfer magazine. And going to see your heroes play there can be humbling, even while they warm up.
"You don't realize how good the pros really are," he says, "until you watch them on the practice range nailing shot after shot to the exact same spot."
For tickets or more information, visit www.golfintl.com or call 1-888-755-1986.
And Tiger? He's a no-show. -- Hart Van Denburg