‘It’s not about the trophy, it’s about the dogs’: Nic Petit motivated to win Iditarod for his dogs

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 5:22 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The stress level at Nic Petit’s Big Lake kennel is minimal heading into the biggest race of the year. For Petit, the dogs are an extension of his family and lovingly calls them his kids.

“They are what I have as far as children go, and significant others that’s what I got,” Petit said.

It’s not unusual to find Petit’s dogs inside his cabin sprawled out on a futon — a tight-knit bunch that is very comfortable around each other. This chemistry is something his team will need on the trail as they prepare for their 11th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Since 2019, Petit and his team have been living and training year-round at the Alaska Dogstead. Before the Dogstead, Petit lived in Girdwood and moved to the Mat-Su for space and training opportunities.

So far, Petit and his dog team have won the Copper Basin 300, Willow 300, and Denali Doubles this winter along with a third-place finish at the Kuskokwim 300. He uses the mid-distance races as preparation for the Iditarod.

“There is a lot of mushers that train like they are in a race, so they can go do the Iditarod,” Petit said. “I train until the races, and then I train by racing. I don’t do anything in between them.”

The only victory missing from Petit’s resume is the Iditarod, and he is well aware. In 2018, he led for a majority of the race before losing his lead to Joar Leifseth Ulsom on the Bering Sea Coast after struggling to find the trail.

“I don’t have any doubts about my dog’s willingness or ability,” Petit said about his recent race struggles. “My dogs are totally into what we do.”

In 2019, Petit led the race to the coast for the second straight year but had to scratch after his team stalled on the ice shortly after leaving the Shaktoolik checkpoint. Despite the disappointment, Petit said he is driven to win the Last Great Race for his dogs.

“It’s not about the trophy, it’s about the dogs,” Petit said. “Trophies aren’t for me, they are for them.”

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