‘Happy one minute and crying the next’ — The life of an Iron Dog wife and mother

Tammy Barber at the Nome garage. Barber is the wife and mother to Iron Dog Team 39, Shane...
Tammy Barber at the Nome garage. Barber is the wife and mother to Iron Dog Team 39, Shane Barber and Cody Barber. (KTUU)
Published: Feb. 22, 2019 at 7:45 PM AKST
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The 2019 Iron Dog put 24 professional class teams to the test through unforgiving weather and technical terrain that spans nearly 2,000 miles through Alaska’s great unknown that pushes the competitors and their families to the brink.

“Happy one minute, crying the next minute,” said Tammy Barber whose husband Shane, and son Cody, are racing for Team 39.

This isn’t Barber’s first Iron Dog, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

“When they’re sleeping, I’m sleeping. When they're up, I’m up,” Barber said.

The emotional roller coaster is something shared by family members every year during the Iron Dog, who share posts online and keep tabs on teams through the online GPS, and Facebook groups.

“We (wives) become a family and really care about each other,” Barber said of the community of team families.

Barber also has a different perspective on the race from other wives, having competed in the pro class race in 2010.

Knowing what’s going on can be a blessing, but also raises Barber's blood pressure.

“It’s scarier because I know where they are at, and can guess what they are going through,” said Barber.

Every year that fear never seems to scare Tammy, or her family away from the race.

“In my mind I know we are always racing again next year,” Barber said. “Even when he (Shane) says this is his last year.”

Many wives and racing fans online joke their needs to be a reality TV show for the wives of the Iron Dog.