The whole goal of being up here this season is to complete three qualifying races to be able to enter into the Iditarod the following year. Sounds easy enough however there are a lot of moving pieces and luck that needs to happen for me to qualify in one year. Also, all the of qualifying races are in the month of January. This is mostly because you have the larger 1000 mile races in February and March. Focusing on the month of January you need to have enough snow on the ground for these races to be put on. In past years several of these races have been canceled due to lack of snow. Also if the snow conditions are marginal, they may still have the race however, it is hard on the dogs. The dogs will need extra rest and may not be able to run the following weekend. You also need healthy dogs. You can imagine if you ran 300 miles on the weekend you might want more than a week of rest before doing it again. Dogs are the same way. Finally, there is always the chance I will get injured or do something stupid to be disqualified from the race. Taking all these things into account, you need to get lucky to complete all of these races in one season.
To prepare these dogs we have to start training them as early as possible. We do this by attaching them to the 4-wheeler and running them before snows on the ground. We slowly work their miles up and rest down between runs taking them from 3-mile runs to 100-mile runs.
These dogs are so impressive, and I feel fortunate to be able to work with and get to know them.