Could Siberians win Iditarod?

I was asked this question recently on a local radio show and I totally and completely evaded the question.

Why did I feel uncomfortable answering this question?

Because I think the answer is yes.

Yes, I think a Siberian team could win Iditarod.  Technically, every team that enters a race has a chance, however infinitesimal, of winning. But my answer is not based on technicalities. It is based on the assumption that in a long-distance format, Siberians are capable of maintaining speeds that would land them on the podium and in the record books. 

But here's the kicker. Until proven otherwise, my views are just pure speculation. So, when he asked me if I thought Siberians could win, my initial thought was YES, of course. But that is such a ridiculous view to most mushers. Would the host seriously ask that question of any other musher? No. Because 99 percent of the mushing population would think the question as ludicrous as my actual answer. I didn't want to discuss my unconventional views while being recorded on a radio show I already felt nervous on, so I didn't say anything.

As far as mushing goes, conclusions are drawn from results, not passionate persuasions. You can only be convincing if you have the results to back it up.

And we don't.

Not yet. And we won't this year. And maybe not next year, or ever.

I don't want folks to think I'm entering Iditarod with a Siberian team with intentions of being competitive. This is only my second year of actual distance racing & Goal #1 is to finish!! I think my dogs could be competitive, and that it would be fun to try, but I think it would be even more fun to get my belt buckle on the first try. 

I'm entering Iditarod with Siberians because I love the breed & I love my dogs. I'm looking forward to seeing unfamiliar landscapes & facing unknown challenges with my best buddies, buddies utterly suited for the arctic climes we'll be traveling through. They were meant to travel this landscape, and we're going to do it at our own pace. A respectable pace to be sure, but not one determined by other mushers or race records. 

So, why do I feel the need to justify my non-answer? What's the point in even talking about the concept of a competitive Siberian team?

Because I don't want my non-answer to be taken as a no.

In North America, we are seeing a small resurgence of Siberians in mid and long distance racing. And these teams are, in fact, starting to be competitive. I'm talking specifically about Rob Cooke placing 2nd in the Quest 300, Lev Shvarts placing 7th in the Northern Lights 300, and of course of Mike Ellis placing in the money (30th) in last year's Iditarod. And then there's me, who has yet to be last in a race, even running super conservatively. So I guess I just want to plant the idea in a few more heads: Siberians are not slow. Siberians have potential. Don't write them off so quickly, and don't feel so bad if they end up beating you ;)


  1. i think you need to try! and you forgot about one of the fastest - mck kennel.) and a lot others. they can run FAST! i think it willbe fun if not only 1 or 2 pb teams will compite!

  2. I love your entry. It shows where we are and where we may go. So optimistic. And so humble!

  3. Enjoyed your interview on mushing radio. I am more of an enjoy the race, all the mushers and dogs and watching the strategies unfold as opposed to who is running the fastest. I got the biggest kick out of Rob Cooke and his dogs in the Quest, when he got a little lost and summited Eagle twice. No big deal for a Siberian team. I think you will have a fantastic Iditarod, enjoying the scenery and your dogs.

  4. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you! I even won a sprint race over some Alaskan teams last season ... took home a 1st and two 2nd placements... This is a young team of dogs I have bred, raised and trained and this was only their second season of racing! I think I am on to something... Can't wait to see how you do in the Iditarod and looking forward to this season of races! Praying for an awesome winter!

  5. Siberians winning Iditarod is not far flung fantasy. Many factors go into winning a race; equipment, checkpoint efficiency,health of the dogs, training and conditioning, the ability to handle problems when they arise and musher conditioning and saavy. I have a stud who came from a Swedish line that won consistently against Eurohounds. Siberians are capable of good speed. You are bringing in some genetic diversity with your breeding plan, which brings vigor. The key ingredient is vision.