Matthew was born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio, and is a graduate of The Ohio State University (2007, Fine Arts Photography). Matthew is an Eagle Scout, an honor which he shares with each of his three brothers.
Matthew first fell in love with Alaska and its culture while working summers during college on the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. Through Gold Rush Dog Tours, Matthew formed a relationship with Veteran Iditarod Musher, Matt Hayashida; and through that relationship Matthew was able to earn a handler position with 4-time Iditarod Champion, Martin Buser (Happy Trails Kennel) in 2010. In 2012, Matthew ran a team of Buser puppies in ‘The Last Great Race’, and he hasn’t looked back. He has raced the Iditarod every year since, as well as multiple mid and long distance races, including the Yukon Quest (2013) and Kuskokwim 300 (2011).
Gold Rush Sled Dog Tours
Alaska Icefield Expeditions
17th -Dog/Team Matthew Failor
Michael O’Machearley Custom Knives
Highs Adventure Kennel & Gear
Seiler & Associates, LLC
17th -Dog Booster Family
In 2013 Matthew opened his own kennel, 17th-Dog/Team Matthew Failor. Carved out of the Birch & Black Spruce in Willow, AK, amongst numerous winter trails near the Mountains of Hatcher Pass, you can find home to 48 of the “hardest working athletes and truest friends [he] has ever known.” Matthew is proud to promote the lifestyle and sport of dog mushing through every day life, as well as tourism and racing.
Matthew has not forgotten his roots. He supports, promotes, and empowers his home community (and beyond) by giving back; through Catholic Charities, local schools, Boy Scouts of America, or National Awareness. While Matthew remains focused on his future, he is firmly rooted in the values he learned growing up in Ohio.
Cole was born in San Diego, California, and raised on a ranch in Central Montana. Cole discovered a deep appreciation and love for the outdoors after volunteering for 2 summers for the Montana Wilderness Association on a trail crew in high school. After completing two years at the University of Montana.He left Montana to pursue a dream to work outdoors. Cole worked on the Mendenhall Glacier for Alaska Icefield Expedition over the summer of 2018 and fell in love with the dogsledding lifestyle. He is excited to join Team Matthew Faillor for the 2019 Iditarod season in Willow, Alaska. When not working, Cole can be found exploring the great outdoors.
The first memory I have of dog sledding is watching a race called the UP 200 and seeing the dogs passion is what inspired me to become a musher. I finished my first two dog race when I was seven, then two years later my dogs Cona and Blazz joined the family. We trained with local mushers and their dogs, even my best friends golden retriever joined the team. I’ve volunteered and helped organize races in Michigans Upper Peninsula, dog handled for mid-distance mushers, and finished local races, including the Jack Pine 30. This past winter I finished the Copper Basin 300 and Kobuk 440. Working with Gold Rush Dog Tours has allowed me to share my knowledge and racing experience with others for the past four years. It’s also given me the opportunity to work with top Iditarod athletes from Matthew Failor’s 17th-Dog team. I’m excited to be with the dogs all winter and be apart of the team!
If you’ve ever contacted the website, team email or FB page, more than likely you’ve spoken with Matthew’s only sister, Katie. She is 17th-Dog/Team Matthew Failor’s behind the scenes, go-to-girl. She handles the athlete boosters, sponsors, team gear, team email and social media. “We’re a very close family, and I love helping Matthew out. Plus, DOGS! Lots and lots of dogs! Who could resist!”
Katie has a Masters Degree from The Ohio State University, and is a Mental Health Therapist (LISW) who specializes in working with teen victims of violence, neglect and abuse. She taught Sociology @ North Central State College from 2009-2014. Katie lives with her three dogs, Duke Raul (APBT), Butter Bean (Yorkie), and a retired sled-dog named Two Face, in north central Ohio.
2000 Eagle Scout (BSA)
2007 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Photography (TheOSU)
2007 Firestone Photography Award (TheOSU)
2008 Tour Guide of the Year - Princess Tours (Alaska)
2011 Kuskokwim300 Rookie of the Year (k300.org)
2012 Sexiest Mushers of Iditarod (Alaska Dispatch)
2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 Princess C.R.U.I.S.E. Award Recipient (Courtesy, Respect, Unfailing in Service Excellence)
2014 Tour Guide of the Season - Princess Cruise Tours
2011 Kuskokwim 300 - Rookie of The Year Award (9th place)
2011 Willow Tug 300 - Checkers Choice Award (7th place)
2012 Knik 200 (34th place)
2012 Northern Lights 300 - Humanitarian Award (17th place)
2012 Iditarod Finisher (47th place)
2013 Yukon Quest Finisher (19th place)
2013 Iditarod Finisher (28th place)
2014 Iditarod Finisher (15th place)
2015 Iditarod Finisher (41st place)
2016 Iditarod Finisher (61st place)
Matthew at the 2015 Iditarod Restart in Fairbanks