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  • Writer's pictureEmily Ford

Iditarod 2025!

A perfectly written lyric in your favorite song, the moment before the most memorable moment in a film, the minutes before a beautiful piece of artwork is revealed, and making it to the starting line of The Iditarod 1000-mile sled dog race all have something very important in common: everything that comes before.


To enter as an Iditarod musher, several things need to happen before you can sign up.


First, you have to get into dogs and mushing.


For some, they are born into mushing families, i.e. the Seavys, Redingtons, or Mackys of the world. For others, we stumble our way into dirty dog yards and icy night runs. I started at a one-month job at a kennel called Positive Energy Outdoors. It is an educational kennel that teaches folks about human and animal power instead of engine power. Eventually, I landed a job at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, a tour operation that runs big fluffy Canadian Inuit sled dogs. Then I met Anna, who had a burning desire to move to Alaska for the winters, live at a racing kennel, and run Iditarod. I fell in love and also found myself in Alaska in the winter at a racing kennel. As Anna started to piece together her Iditarod dream, I pieced together my love for running dogs in the wilds of Alaska. Dogs can take you nearly anywhere if there is snow or ice!


Next, you need to finish three qualifying races.


For me, they were the Goosebay 150, Copper Basin 300, and the Kobuk 440. Each qualifying race reveals the competence of a musher. Goosebay is a great intro race to being self-supported. There is only one checkpoint and no one from your team will be there to help. Copper Basin is a technical trail. I dumped and crashed my sled several times during that race, but I became a better driver because of it. The Kobuk is a sleepless self-supported race in the Arctic. Most of the Kobuk is flat and mind-numbing and at any moment's notice you can be swept up in a ground storm and become lost. All of these races take hundreds of hours of training!


Next, you need sponsorships.


The entry fee for Iditarod is $4,000 which isn't too bad considering the work it takes to make the race happen each year! The entry fee is approachable at best. What weighs on the pocketbook is everything before the race begins. For example, our kennel goes through 5 bags of kibble a week, totaling about $350/ week, $1,400/ month, and nearly $10,000 in a season. And that's only kibble! Like human athletes, we fuel our dogs with more than just one type of food. The dogs get supplements, raw meat, beef fat, and probiotics! Kibble only scratches the surface.


Rookies (unless they run out of a big kennel) get their sponsorships from small businesses, friends, and family. My big ask to you is for your financial support. If you own a business and become a lead dog sponsor, I would love to have your company logo on my sled! If you want to sponsor a checkpoint, I will put your name on the checkpoint map. If you sponsor a dog, I will send you updates about how their training season is going! Even if you can afford only one bootie, I would love to have you on the team. It takes more than me to make it to the finish line.


Head over to the iditarod sponosorship page on the website and see if anything is a good fit! If you want to just dive right in, send over an email to emilyontrail@gmail.com


For those of you who are already a part our race team, welcome! It's going to be a fun season!


Porsche (my best leader) and I at a checkpoint during the Copper Basin 300


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