Riddles, Libby 1956-

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RIDDLES, Libby 1956-

PERSONAL: Born April 1, 1956, in Madison, WI; daughter of Willard P. (a college professor) and Mary Reynolds (an educator and homemaker) Riddles.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—P.O. Box 15253, Fritz Creek, AK 99603.

CAREER: Author and lecturer, 1985—; also worked as a sled dog racer, television commentator, and sled dog wrangler. Arctic Winter Games International, board member, 1990-97.

MEMBER: Iditarod Trail Committee.

AWARDS, HONORS: First woman to win the Iditarod Race, 1985; Leonard Sepella Humanitarian Award, Alaska Airlines, 1985; Professional Sports Woman of the Year, Women's Sports Foundation, 1985; Victor Award for Excellence in Sports; Best Books for Young Adults selection, American Library Association, 1988, for Race across Alaska.


(With Tim Jones) Race across Alaska: First Woman toWin the Iditarod Tells Her Story, Stackpole Books (Harrisburg, PA), 1988.

(With Shelley Gill) Danger, the Dog Yard Cat (with audiocassette), Paws IV (Homer, Alaska), 1989.

Storm Run, Paws IV (Homer, Alaska), 1996, published as Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Libby Riddles is an author and champion sled dog racer who lives in Alaska. In 1985, she became the first woman ever to win the Iditarod, a thousand mile dog sled race across Alaska. Coauthored with Tim Jones, Riddles' book Race across Alaska: First Woman to Win the Iditarod Tells Her Story recounts her grueling race along some of Alaska's roughest country. The book also includes details of her life in Alaska with her fifty dogs, how she became interested in dog sledding, and how she trained. Riddles retells her story for a younger audience in the 1996 title Storm Run. Riddles is also the coauthor, with Shelley Gill, of Danger, the Dog Yard Cat, published in 1990. Also for young readers, Danger features the story of Riddles' cat in real life, who seems to want to lead a dogsled team.

As a writer, Riddles did not always feel as confident as she does with her dogs. She told NASA Quest, "I was a natural writer, even as a child, but didn't have much confidence. That came with experience, and by being successful with smaller goals." When asked about living her dream, she responded, "I think it's important for young people to spend those years being kids and finding out what kinds of things they like without having to worry too much about their future. If you have the chance to explore and see what things there are to do out there and then follow where you feel the most passion, the future tends to take care of itself."

Riddles told CA: "I started writing journals when I was twelve—writing seemed like a natural form of expression to me. I moved to Alaska when I was sixteen, ready for a life of adventure. Twelve years later, after becoming the first woman to win the 1,000 mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race, I wrote my first book, Race across Alaska. I wanted to share the experience, as so many people had written to me, fascinated by the story. A lot of my racing fan mail came from children, so it seemed natural to write a book for kids. Danger is the almost true story of my cat who lives with fifty-seven sled dogs. It is a collaboration with Shelley Gill and illustrator Shannon Cartwright. We made a cassette tape to go along with it, with songs and the text narrated. I hoped to show kids our Alaskan lifestyle in a fun way and encourage them to be anything they want to be.

"Storm Run is my race story, but for children. This book is more educational with maps and gear information.

"My writing habits are not so great, as I still have about forty sled dogs, so my writing doesn't always get priority. Having deadlines helps me get with the program. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to have become an author. Being a strong reader was key to my having enough imagination to find such a unique lifestyle for myself. I hope through my writing to inspire people to reach for their own adventures."



Encyclopedia of Women and Sports, ABC-CLIO (Santa Barbara, CA), 1996.

Women's Firsts, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.


Booklist, March 15, 1989, p. 1280; March 1, 2002, p. 1148.

People Weekly, May 7, 1990, p. 45.

Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2002, p. 69.


Libby Riddles Web site,http://www.alaska.net/~riddles (November 20, 2002).

NASA Quest,http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ (November 20, 2002), interview with Libby Riddles.*