The Weight (and Pressure) of an Iditarod Food Drop

Blog by Julia Redington

Ray will be racing in his 13th Iditarod this year and we just completed the Iditarod food drop for the 13th time this past week.

So do you think food drop for Iditarod has gotten easier for us?

Yes, we are pretty good at the mechanics of assembling it …. However, the stress of figuring out what to plan for during the race has gotten more difficult.

Ray agrees that the preparation of the food drop still remains the most stressful part of the Iditarod.  Racing the Iditarod is not as stressful as strategizing your food drop to support your race. The food drop is where mushers send out dog food, supplies, gear, and food for the musher to the various villages and checkpoints along the way to support their team for the approximately nine days that they will be on running across Alaska.

Having the right food and gear at the right time is critical to support the race strategy.  That race strategy may include a musher’s Plan A through Plan Z but hopefully Plan Z never has to come into play.

Some factors that could impact the food drop strategy:

Food drop prepRay figures out two locations that are his preference for 24-hour rests and plans his food drop bags accordingly.
Where is the team planning to take the mandatory 24-hour rest break?
What could change from that plan?  Possibilities may include: a broken sled, slower than expected travel times due to trail conditions where the team needs the rest earlier, or if the team catches a bug/gets sick (dogs are like people in that they can get sick and pass the bug around).
What’s the weather like?  What if it is a warm race?  Or a cold race?
The weather affects the type of diet specifically meat to feed the dogs.  One example is that Ray would not want to feed beaver or liver in warmer temperatures as the meat is so rich but in cold weather dogs will thrive on high octane fuel because they are burning so many calories.

Those are some of the factors for the pressure applied to the preparation and this year Ray just sent out around 2,650 pounds of dog food, people food, gear, and supplies to support his race.  So now you know the weight (and pressure) of an Iditarod food drop.