4x Iditarod Champions
March 07, 2016
8 Tips for the Armchair Musher
It’s the biggest race of the year. The Iditarod – imagine it overhead on a cinema marquee in bright, buzzing lights. It’s been called the “Superbowl of Dog Mushing.” The Superbowl is only about four hours long, however, and it comes with a halftime show as intermission. The Iditarod takes, at minimum, nearly nine days, and the action plays out at all hours of the day and night. It’s arguably the most unpredictable sporting event on the planet. Videos trickle in via dedicated media teams, and articles are written that describe the perpetually moving pieces on the 85-player chess board, but even those only come every few days, as it takes time to make sense of all the varying strategies. The double-edged saving grace for the armchair musher is the GPS tracker. The all-knowing, all-powerful, controlling-all-of-your-emotions-for-the-next-ten-days, refreshing-every-five-minutes GPS tracker. You love it, and you hate it. But one thing is certain, it’s got you, and it won’t let you walk away. As any Iditarod veteran worth their salt will attest, successfully navigating the ups and downs of the Alaskan wilderness requires a plan. Traversing the digital trail is no different. Here are some tips:
1. Embrace the sleep deprivation. Mushers regain composure by rubbing snow on their faces, singing at full volume, and even convincing themselves that a polar bear is chasing them for two hundred miles. If you find yourself in bed tonight, sleepless and staring at the tracker dots, fear not, in addition to these musher-proven strategies there is always Red Bull, a cold shower, or repeatedly slapping yourself in the face (gently, of course).
2. Protect your fingers from injury. Dexterity is necessary for Iditarod mushers as they snack dogs, perform checkpoint routines, and hold on for dear life. The armchair musher needs their fingers for internet searching and Facebook commenting. It is prudent to turn on the auto-refresh. Over the course of the race, the five-minute lag time may begin to seem much too slow, but remember you are shielding your right index finger from early-onset arthritis. If you do succumb to the temptations of compulsive clicking, rest assured that greater mushers than you have also sacrificed their fingers to get to the finish.
3. Change your socks. A musher that doesn’t change or dry their socks is a musher that risks developing trench foot. The engrossed armchair musher who forgets about personal hygiene is at risk of offending the olfactories of all nearby species, from spouses to spaniels to small children.
4. Stay hydrated. Dehydration tends to augment fatigue, and this has manifested on the trail as one second being wide awake and the next second tasting a face full of Mother Nature’s finest snow cone. To avoid a dehydration-induced keyboard face plant, either don a Camelbak or place a fully stocked box of Capri Suns tableside. NOTE: There is no viable armchair alternative to getting up and going to the bathroom once the aforementioned hydration kicks in.
5. Don’t forget eye protection. Mushers wear their goggles in the coldest conditions to ward off the risk of corneal frostbite. Did you have enough foresight to invest in Google Glass? Wear yours to protect against missing any of the action. Plus, this might be the one socially acceptable reason to wear them. Ever.
6. Go outside. Just because your favorite musher is spending the next couple weeks almost completely outdoors does not mean you have to balance out the equation by staying inside for the same amount of time. At the very least open a window now and again, and don’t forget to look out of it. You need the Vitamin D.
7. Stretch. Namaste.
8. Remember to go to work. One single day of work should offset the entire cost of the Iditarod Insider. Strategic use of sick days is paramount. If you are calling in one of your few available sick or personal days, choose wisely. Monday, March 14th should be your top choice to follow the lead teams. If you have two days to take, how about Friday and Monday? Badabing badaboom you now have a 96-hour GPS refresh-fest on your hands. Heck, these might even be legitimate sick days if you fully commit to the sleep-deprived super fan status.