Much like any other athlete and sport, training and hard work during the off-season are integral parts which have a direct correlation with the achievement of success. Think about any sport or activity which you participate in. What do you do to get better? One of the things mushers do to practice and help the dogs learn is have them pull an ATV or 4-wheeled cart while harnessed up as a team.
At camp, all of the teachers had the opportunity to experience this firsthand while riding on the cart. I’ll always remember the old Dodge Ram commercials in which someone asked, “That thing gotta hemi?” The new question should be, “That thing gotta sled dog team?” Sled dogs are strong, powerful, fast, intelligent and eager! It was incredible to see these dogs traverse the uneven land, ascend steep hills, advance and course through deep, muddy waters, and successfully turn around a tight bend on the trail. Their ability to listen to the commands and help guide each other is remarkable.
At one point, Cindy Abbot said to the other teachers and me, “Now, imagine being on a sled behind this team on the Iditarod trail.” The thought is mind-boggling! Among the many things which mushers must do in order to succeed, Cindy highlighted that they must establish a strong bond with each individual dog as well as the team as a whole. Cindy said that you need trust with the dogs and you cannot break that trust. It has been overwhelmingly easy to see that the dogs love and trust Cindy, Vern, and all of the other dog-handlers. The mushers and handlers prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs and consistently ensure that they are happy and healthy!
It is IMPORTANT to let you know about one of the new rule changes for the 2019 race! According to rule 17, “The maximum number of dogs that a musher may start the race with is fourteen (14) dogs.” This, of course, is a change from the maximum of sixteen (16) dogs which a musher could start the race with. At one point, mushers were allowed to start with twenty (20) dogs! Imagine that! Think about how this change will affect musher preparation, strategy, time, and all other facets of the race. How will this affect your curriculum and lessons which you’ve used in the past? Check out the 2019 Iditarod Race rules and see which other changes have been made!
Stay tuned throughout the week as I continue to share experiences and information from summer camp!
Now that mushers may only start with a maximum of 14 dogs, calculate how many booties one musher would need to pack for their team for the 2019 Iditarod (southern route). Remember, mushers send booties to every checkpoint. Assume that you will start and finish with all 14 dogs. Remember, under rule 16, it is mandatory to carry 8 booties for each dog in the sled or in use. After finding the solution, you could find the difference if you were to calculate the number of booties for a team of 16 dogs.