ANCHORAGE - St. Cloud State graduate Monica Zappa is currently racing in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, which started on Sunday.

Zappa grew up in Cumberland Wisconsin where her family mushed dogs and ran distance races when she was young. Zappa spent four years at SCSU-majoring in meteorology and minoring in mass communications. In 2010 she moved to Alaska to get involved in the commercial fishing business and attempt sled dog racing.

Zappa estimated that she needed to raise around $20,000 to participate in the race. She says that a large amount of preparation took place getting her dogs and supplies ready before the race.

This is Zappa's first attempt at the 1,000 mile race, she says she hopes to finish in 11 to 13 days if conditions are favorable.

One of Zappa's purposes for running the race is to raise awareness for the environment in Bristol Bay. There is a gold and copper mine being proposed for the area that could cause damage to the environment and fish in the area. Zappa hopes to educate people on the damage the project could cause.