When SI reporter Sally Guard was growing up, an esteemed member of the family for 15 years was a dog named Beauty, part sheltie, part whippet, all mutt. Beauty, a quirky, independent critter, could turn it on when chasing the Guards' car. But she did little to prepare Sally for the larger-than-life vitality of the beauts Sally met up with in Teller, Alaska while dotting the i's and crossing the t's of Libby Riddles's account of her victory in the 1985 Iditarod race (page 90). "I could never even get Beauty to pull me around on my roller skates," she says.
Guard came away entranced with Alaska's 10 a.m. sunrises—"Except for college," she says, "it was the most consecutive dawns I've ever seen"—and appreciative of how close culturally Alaska and New York have become. "Riddles mentions in the story how she listens to rock and reggae while racing," Guard says. "She had one of the most up-to-date collections I've seen."
Guard's interest in music began at home. Her father, Dave, strummed a guitar for beers as a Stanford under-grad, and in 1959 adorned the cover of LIFE with the other two members of the group he founded, the Kingston Trio. "He left the band in 1961, and the family moved to Australia the next year," she says. "The group had toured there and Dad fell in love with it."
Sally was born on Australia Day—Jan. 26—1963. The Guards returned to the Bay Area when Sally was five, and she spent her childhood summers at the Bar 717 Ranch in Northern California's Trinity National Forest, where she built fences and outhouses, and backpacked. "I think it was at the ranch where I started to love the outdoors," says Guard, whose regular SI beat is the environment. In the summer of 1979, Guard went to north central France to help restore the Chateau-Fort de Lavardin, a medieval castle near Vend√¥me.
That summer she went on to play six soccer games in Europe in an exchange program as a member of her hometown (Portola Valley) all-star soccer team. She also played the sport three years at Middlebury College. "Then I hung up my cleats for the sax," Guard says. With five classmates she formed the Ripton Blues Band. At one recording session the group's percussionist got to play a genuine set of drums. "He had been using a trash can that he found in back of Middlebury's music building," Guard says.
Guard is sure the tape they made will never go gold, but she's equally sure the group had a certain élan. Up in Teller, everybody seems to have it, especially the dogs.
GUARD GETS ACQUAINTED WITH DOGS OF THE KIND THAT RIDDLES MUSHED TO VICTORY