How would I go about racing the Iditarod??


Original Post
Danielneallewis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25

Okay, so this is admittedly not really on-point with MountainProject, but I want to ask my friends on MP.com how I would go about racing the Iditarod. I've got Aconcagua scheduled for December and Denali scheduled for next May (7 Summits bound), and I got to thinking that attempting the crazy-prestigious Iditarod would be an amazing thing to do once in my life (especially while I'm still young). I figure you have to start somewhere, so here come all of my questions.

Where Do I Begin?


Does anyone on here know someone who has completed it? Or is anyone able to provide some guidance on how I would even go about undertaking such a crazy feat? I'm assuming I need to start training, but I have no idea what that entails. I've also read about contestants renting their team of dogs, but I'm wondering about how you'd develop a relationship with them (don't judge...dogs are like people).

It also looks like I'd need 2 x 300 mile and 1 x 150+ mile qualifying races within the specified time limits (unless I went nuts and did the Yukon Quest). The Northern Lights 300 sounds like a pretty good start.

Additionally, as a rookie musher I would need a rookie reference from a musher who has completed the Iditarod. I have no clue how a guy from Tennessee would even get in contact with a musher, let alone have a close enough relationship with them to obtain a reference. That, however, might be where the 750 miles of qualifying races comes in quite handy.

What About Gear?

I'm also wondering about gear. It looks like heavy gear is much more suitable for the Iditarod than the lighter gear used in mountaineering. Is that to say that my $1,000 Olympus Mons Evo mountaineering boots are actually less preferable than a pair of $200 Lobben Femund felted wool musher boots and a $150 pair of Neos insulated Navigator overshoes? And my $800 Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero parka should be scrapped in favor of a $1,500 Canada Goose mantra parka with a fur ruff?

I've even got Canada Goose Northern gloves, ME Fitzroy mitts, OR Firebrand mitts, and Marmot 8000m Expedition mitts, but it looks like I'd also need some beaver fur mitts? I have Raynaud's (a circulatory/neurological disorder), so keeping my hands warm is extremely important to keeping all 10 fingers firmly attached to my hands. I'm trying to wrap my head around how expensive mountaineering gear is nonetheless not the ideal stuff for the frigid cold temperatures you experience on a dog sled.

Conclusion

I have no illusions about winning the race. I just want to finish and be able to say I did it. I am incredibly determined, and mental preparedness seems to be extremely important in the Iditarod, where you'll encounter miles upon miles and hours upon hours of monotonous whiteness with no one but your dogs to keep you company. I'm getting to the age where I can appreciate that life is short, while still being young enough to live it to the fullest! Any helpful advice is greatly appreciate. THANKS EVERYBODY!!!

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

You should probably get some experience dog sledding in a much smaller context before you worry too much about completing the Iditarod, just as you should probably get up Denali before you worry too much about being "7 Summits Bound."

Here's some Google help: google.com/search?q=learn+t…;ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+learn+sled+dogging+in+Alaska

Edit: Better yet:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+learn+mushing

Slogger · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 80

https://www.petfinder.com/pet-search?&shelter_id=AK12&Animal=Dog&sort=Identifier&preview=1

https://www.amazon.com/Paricon-Toddler-Boggan-Sleds-Red/dp/B000LF8XSU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474669345&sr=8-1&keywords=kid+sled

Give'r!

Ray Lovestead · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 117

While you are there you should also consider killing a bear with your hands, arguing with a local in one of their lovely bars and running for governor,

Oh and I'm pretty sure anyone on MP can give you the advice you need for any of those tasks.

climbing coastie · · Wasilla, AK · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 90

You can't just sign up for the Iditarod! You have to qualify by racing in other races before being allowed in. Also, where is your dog team going to come from. No legitimate musher is going to let someone borrow a team, especially someone with no experience.

I really hope this is a troll, because we are all screwed if this is what the world is coming to!!!

keithconn · · LI, NY · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 35

Have you read 'My Lead Dog Was A Lesbian '?

Title makes sense when you read it ...
Great account of getting into and doing the race.

apoet · · AZ · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 193

I will let you borrow my dog if she can be the leader.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

Watch part of the race, or volunteer; see if someone feels friendly toward a camp follower. Mushers are a community with a shared passion, after all, and it isn't too far fetched to think they all were beginners at some point. If it appeals, you make some friends, aren't an ass, then those folks would probably steer you toward the next steps. The people who raise, train, and live with the dogs are not necessarily the same ones who do the racing.

I would be really surprised if you can't find dog sled groups closer to home, too. Then it could be a more reasonable meetup to see how you like it.

But, it would probably be easier and less expensive to decide you want a surfing career based from Tennessee, than an Iditarod racer.

s.price · · PS,CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,348

This is either a weak troll or the dumbest thing to show up on MP in quite awhile. No wonder bearbreeder is no longer around.

If the OP was Daniel Day Lewis I might buy it. That guy can act his way through anything and still come out on top.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265
s.price wrote:This is either a weak troll or the dumbest thing to show up on MP in quite awhile. No wonder bearbreeder is no longer around. If the OP was Daniel Day Lewis I might buy it. That guy can act his way through anything and still come out on top.
Oh c'mon. You sound like an old lady. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but so what? The only "reasonable" things on your list of other interests are "good whiskey and one woman", and some would debate your sanity on those!

P.S. how many guitars are too many? Sorta curious, as our house seems to be shrinking. Helen
Sarah Stokey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 5

My friend recently shared your post with me. I run a kennel of 60 sled dogs that compete in Iditarod every year. I competed in the Iditarod last year and am hoping to run again in 2018. Running Iditarod is a 2 year commitment. Leasing dogs is an option. Don't worry about gear until you talk to someone to rub dogs with, they will be your best resource.

Feel free to shoot me an email: sarah@sewardhelicopters.com

On the Iditarod Trail

Danielneallewis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25
climbing coastie wrote:You can't just sign up for the Iditarod! You have to qualify by racing in other races before being allowed in. Also, where is your dog team going to come from. No legitimate musher is going to let someone borrow a team, especially someone with no experience. I really hope this is a troll, because we are all screwed if this is what the world is coming to!!!
Thanks for the useless response. I half expected that best case scenario I'd get maybe 20% helpful advice, though. If you'll learn to read, you'll also see that I specifically mention knowing about the qualifying races.

Additionally, the practice of leasing teams is NOT unheard of. Joe Reddington, a guy actually called "Father of the Iditarod," has leased out team of dogs to prospective racers. Vern Halter, who has finished in top 5 of 3 Iditarod races, also leases dogs, including the entire team that Brazil's Luan Marques used to complete the 2013 Iditarod. Even the legendary Mitch Seavey who has competed in every Iditarod since 1995 and won twice, has said he sees nothing wrong to leasing a team to someone if they love the sport and love dogs.

Maybe, before posting useless comments because someone aspires to achieve something to which you would never aspire, you should make sure what you're saying is 1) accurate and 2) helpful. Remember, as one helpful member actually noted, at some point everyone was a rookie in whatever may be their respective activity.

Thanks to everyone who DOES post helpful stuff!
Danielneallewis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25
Sarah Stokey wrote:My friend recently shared your post with me. I run a kennel of 60 sled dogs that compete in Iditarod every year. I competed in the Iditarod last year and am hoping to run again in 2018. Running Iditarod is a 2 year commitment. Leasing dogs is an option. Don't worry about gear until you talk to someone to rub dogs with, they will be your best resource. Feel free to shoot me an email: sarah@sewardhelicopters.com
Thanks, Sarah! I just now read the PM your friend had sent me with your email. I'll email you tomorrow when I'm at my computer!
Eric Thompson · · Mountlake Terrace wa · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 125

From what i've read they don't just race dog teams. You can do the course on Cross country skis right after. That would be much more arduous that riding a sled.

http://iditarodtrailinvitational.com or on foot...

Eric

https://m.youtube.com/user/freesolo

Danielneallewis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25
Eric Thompson wrote:From what i've read they don't just race dog teams. You can do the course on Cross country skis right after. That would be much more arduous that riding a sled. iditarodtrailinvitational.com or on foot... Eric m.youtube.com/user/freesolo
Ewwww that sounds like no fun at all!
Don MacKenzie · · Seattle, WA · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 25

Tennessee, eh? Sure you're name isn't Sam McGee?

Danielneallewis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25
Don MacKenzie wrote:Tennessee, eh? Sure you're name isn't Sam McGee?
Haha! Never heard of that poem!
Danielneallewis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 25

So as an update, I've gotten in touch with Rod Whaley, the only Tennesseean ever to qualify for the Iditarod. I'll post his responses to a bunch of my questions as we continue our conversation. Thanks again to everyone who has been helpful.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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