Posted at: 03/26/2014 10:51 PM
By: Eyewitness Sports
Chisholm, Minn. - "We don't even have names for you guys yet," Nathan Schroeder said to some of his young dogs. "How about I call one of you Frozen?" Since Schroeder returned to Chisholm from Alaska, he's watched the movie 'Frozen' more times than he can count, with three young kids at home. While they weren't frozen, he and his dogs know a thing or two about cold conditions, after racing in the nearly 1,000 mile long Iditarod, which was a long-time dream.
"It was quite a ride, it was pretty challenging the first 300 miles and I knew some of it, down the Dalzell Gorge and the Buffalo Tunnels was going to be difficult, but the guys that have ran it for 20-to-25 years say that is the worst they have ever seen it. It got real windy the last 100 miles, real bad. The gal that was ahead of me was at a checkpoint called Elim and I was going to Elim. She got held up in Elim and when I arrived, it was nasty. It was so windy, it was blowing you off the trail and you'd have to walk your dogs back to the trail."
The 36-year old native of Warba and resident of Chisholm has raced dogs since he was 12 years old and more than most may realize, he says it can be a mental game.
"Human emotions are about the biggest downturn in the sport and if you let your human emotions take over, you are done. You just have to remember that everyone has to do it and if it is windy and you have to go through it, so do the other 70 dog teams."
As for Schroeder's team of dogs, they seemed to enjoy the journey.
"I didn't have one issue as far as the dogs not wanting to go, they always left. They were happy when I'd stand them up to boot them and they let me put their boots on and then, they'd lay down until I was ready to go and they were just like - I don't know - a machine. They really keyed into what I was doing."
49 teams finished the Iditarod (69 teams started) and Schroeder and his dogs were 17th. Of the 16 teams who competed in their first Iditarod, Schroeder's team was tops as he earned Rookie of the Year honors.
"It is nine, ten days and anything can go wrong in those nine, ten days and I was pretty fortunate on this adventure. I didn't have a thing that disappointed me, nothing wrong."
Though a rookie in the Iditarod, Schroeder is a decorated musher, with three John Beargrease Marathon titles, including the last two.
"It is the best tune-up for the Iditarod, especially with the past seasons conditions. You are running 400 miles, that is almost half the Iditarod alone and the hills on the Beargrease are way more challenging than any hill you'd see at the Iditarod and so the Beargrease dials a dog team right in and I am fortunate to have the Beagrease right in my backyard."
If things work out, he'll return to both the Beargrease and the Iditarod next year.
"I have a good memory of the Iditarod 2014 and I would like to have a good memory of 2015."