A musher from Saint-Tite, Martin Massicotte, is about to hit the road for Alaska where he will be on the starting line, next March, of the Iditarod, the longest and most difficult dog sled race in the world.
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Since his first participation in March 2020 in the race which spans 975 miles (1569 km), the musher, who sports the same steel blue eyes as his dogs, has changed his training completely.
“The training I’ve done this year is really race-based with campsites, straw, dog blankets; we sleep outside, we leave with short stops, quantities of food. Everything has been established. I worked on that, in fact, not just this year, but also last year, all winter, ”he detailed in an interview with TVA Nouvelles.
In 2020, the pandemic had declared itself in full race, so that the rules changed over the kilometers. This time, participants know a little more about what to expect. “All staff are vaccinated. We others, it is an obligation to have vaccines, tests at all “check points”. They can take us out of the race at any time if we test positive.
The last time, the team passed a herd of bison. The dogs were excited and sped up, which could have been fatal since the track was in poor condition. “I was afraid to escape the sleigh several times over a distance of about 15 miles,” Mr. Massicotte admitted with disarming calm.
This year, the Saint-Tite musher will be able to count on strong support; his spouse, Marie-Josée Dulong, will be on the trip as an assistant. “It was the best I could have had. She knows dogs, she raised them with me. She trained with me.
But knowing more about the course now does not reassure her. “For about 300 miles they are on the Bering Sea coast,” Ms. Dulong explained. And there it can develop storms in a short time. These winds can push it to the sea. So, rather than worrying just about the first part that I thought was dangerous, now I’m going to worry until the end!
Even if Martin Massicotte really wants to finish the race, the dogs will have the last word. Him, he will simply try to surpass himself, again.