Iron Dog 2023: Why they run

Iron Dog 2023: Why they run
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 7:06 PM AKST
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BIG LAKE, Alaska (KTUU) - Whether they’re in it for the win or just to enjoy the views, the Iron Dog is a brutal race that puts racers’ strength, endurance, and patience to the ultimate test.

Some teams appreciate a good physical challenge, while others see their entry as a platform to promote awareness.

“This year we’re running and trying to promote suicide awareness throughout the region,” Chris Collins said.

Collins and his teammate, Douglas Wicken, make up Team 12 in this year’s race. The pair are both veterans of the race from Kotzebue looking to shed light on a dark statistic in the state.

For midwestern rookies, Jacob Dahle and Leah Bauer, Team 13′s hot pink skis are for their mothers, both of whom are breast cancer survivors.

“We’re just trying to raise awareness for a good cause and support our moms and the battle that they’ve all had to go through,” Dahle stated.

The only all-female team running this year is Team 16′s Hillarie Gosset and Ashley Wood. The two were in good spirits at the start line Friday morning, poised to be the first team of women to try and cross the finish line since Jackie Page and Missy McClurg did it back in 2001.

“Everybody has really voiced and come alive in saying that it’s time, it’s time that a women’s team gets across the finish line again,” Gosset said.

25 teams took off from a snowy start gate in Big Lake Friday morning. They will travel over 2,500 miles through rugged terrain, reaching the halfway point of Nome before returning to Big Lake.