2,031 miles in seven days. From Big Lake to Fairbanks, and 26 checkpoints in between, 39 Pro Class teams are currently racing across Alaska to win the famed Iron Dog Race. It is the world’s longest snowmobile race, requiring participants to test their mettle against some of Alaska’s most remote and rugged terrain, while at the same time confronting some of the harshest winter weather conditions. It is a test of survival skills, teamwork and preparation.
Amazingly, no one has ever died in this extreme test of sportsmanship. Despite extreme conditions, terrain and speed, not a single racer in many years of the race has lost their life. Why? Because true athletes are prepared for the competition. They practice and prepare, physically and mentally.
The racers spend months making sure that their snow machines are in the equivalent of mechanical perfection, investing countless hours and thousands of dollars in research, equipment and training to be prepared for any surprise they may encounter along the course. Breakdowns are costly and minutes lost on the course are the difference between winning and losing.
They hone their mental strength and teamwork skills, making sure they can withstand the daily hours spent in the bitter cold on the course, fighting cold, wind and terrain as a team. They know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and are prepared to motivate and encourage each other throughout the course.
They have prepared their gear, with the proper hydration, insulation and tools and the camping gear they are required to pack throughout the race. For they know that they will face extreme conditions throughout the course and must be prepared for survival in the harshest of conditions. Keeping drinking water from freezing, battling wind chills in the subzero triple digit range or chipping morning snow out of the cavity of your snow machine engine are daily battles.
Despite the challenges of such a race, these extreme athletes persevere. They train, battle and push themselves to the limit to compete in this annual race. While their course is different, they are not unlike you or I. Their chosen field of battle is simply run on a different course.
Today is your day, too, to compete and win. Is your equipment tuned and in peak condition for your day? Are you mentally in the best possible form you can be in? Have you done all you can to make sure your team is aligned and ready to work with you, motivate each other and play, successfully, off of each others’ strengths and weaknesses? Do you have the gear you need ready for the unexpected that may come your way? That’s what it takes to be a winner…and that’s how you win the race.
You might not find me today racing from Kaltag to Unalakleet on the back of an Artic Cat, but you can be darn sure I am out on my own Iron Dog today and ready to hit my next checkpoint…prepared to be in first position!