Conquering Fears | 2017 Iditarod

BUFF® Staff / 3-22-2017

By Kristin Bacon of Bacon's Acres Kennel

One day the words “I want to run the Iditarod someday” came out of my mouth.  Iditarod is a 1000+ mile sled dog race across Alaska.  It was many years before I decided to take the leap to begin the process; however, from the day I made the decision to start my own kennel in March of 2011, I have been conquering my personal fears one by one.  And the BUFF® brand is helping with one of them.

The First Fear: A long term, every day, whole being commitment - I agreed to split a litter of puppies from a breeding of two Alaskan Huskies with a friend.  I knew instantly that my life would NEVER be the same again.  In terms of the time, energy and financial commitment to raise, care for, train and race a team of Alaskan Huskies, I’m certain I couldn’t comprehend what it would require prior to experiencing it.

Some of the other fears that needed to be addressed to be successful at this adventure:
  • Time: giving up my consistent work schedule so I could care for and train my dogs
  • Finances:  Exchanging modern housing conveniences to live in an off the grid cabin near dog training/racing trails
  • Hooking up a team and training alone in the Alaskan wilderness
  • Running a dog team in the dark (with a headlamp, of course)
  • Passing other dog teams (head on & from behind)
  • Dogs (like human athletes) getting injured while training, racing, etc. 
  • Myself getting injured during the process (I need my body to do my “day job” as a pediatric physical therapist to pay for the costs of having our racing kennel)
  • Training and racing in arctic temperatures and weather conditions
The Final Fear: Training and racing in arctic temperatures and weather conditions. This is the fear that lead me to ask BUFF® to be a sponsor of my Iditarod team.

One of my scariest (and coldest) periods of the 2016 Iditarod was outside of a little village called White Mountain.  The wind was howling.  The dogs had their heads down charging into the wind.  I was kicking with one leg while attempting to drive my sled straight to stay on the trail. My body was fairly warm from kicking and fighting the wind, but my face was partially exposed.  I had a Polar Reversible Buff pulled up over my nose (which I almost always do).  I had my hat pulled down to just above my eyes.  I had my parka hood tightened down.  I tried goggles, but they kept fogging up, so I removed them.  I was anxious.  My cheeks were cold.  My eyes were watering. Fortunately, I only had about 10 miles to the next checkpoint where I could bed down the dogs in straw and blankets, and then warm myself up.  By the time we left White Mountain more than eight hours later, the wind had settled and we proceeded to Nome, Alaska to successfully finish our first Iditarod.

Because I love the Polar Reversible Buff so much, I wondered what other products BUFF® had to offer to help combat the cold and wind we encounter during the Iditarod and preparing for it.

After the race, I was excited to find a whole line of cold weather products I was unaware of: Thermal Hoodies (cozy and convenient on/off hood), Windproof & Cross Tech Balaclavas (which make goggle wearing much more successful),  Polar Fleece and Merino Wool Balaclavas for less extreme conditions, a whole series of hats, bandanas with laser cut holes, etc. Lastly, the Dog BUFF® with reflective elements. These not only add a bit of warmth they help my dogs stand out in low light conditions.

And this year, these products will be put to the test.  Iditarod 2017 officially starts this coming weekend.  The re-start was moved to Fairbanks due to snow issues in the Alaska Range, which means the race course will now be less technically challenging; however, interior Alaska is much colder.   It is predicted to be a low of -23F at the start of the race, and you can bet I will be wearing my BUFF® products to keep me warm. 

Update: Kristin finished the 2017 Iditarod on March 17th in11d 4h 45m 43s. Well done and congratulations from all of us at BUFF® headwear!

- Thanks to Katherine Joy Photography for capture these images

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