If your confused about the title of this blog, Mush, Haw, and Whoa are all sled dog commands. Sled Dog Racing is a winter dog sport most popular in the Arctic regions of the United States, Canada, Russia, and some European countries. It involves the timed competition of teams of sled dogs that pull a sled with the dog driver or musher standing on the runners. The team completing the marked course in the least time is judged the winner. The Iditarod in Alaska is one of the most well known and grueling sled dog races in the world. Woolx has been given the awesome opportunity to be one of Jan Steves gear sponsors for the 2015 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  We’re very excited to be part of Jan’s journey as she trains and prepares for the 2015 race.

Woolx Balaclava

The Iditarod covers over 1000 miles of some of the most rugged terrain imaginable. Mushers and dogs can race through blizzards while enduring white out conditions, and gale force winds can create wind chill temperatures dipping well below zero. To prevent frostbite and hypothermia a heavy, warm base layer is an essential piece of gear. Our Woolx heavyweight thermals are perfect for the job. At a hefty 400 g/m2 of 100% wool they will help keep a musher toasty in even the harshest conditions, and wool’s ability to insulate while wet could make a life or death difference if a musher falls through the ice. High quality extreme cold weather gear is an absolute necessity for this race!. This includes goggles for flying snow, and a heavy glove that will withstand negative degree temperatures.  The Woolx balaclava or neck gaitor is also an essential item to keep the racers face warm. Speeds on the trail can reach up to 10 mph. That might not seem very fast, but in Arctic conditions that wind on your face seems like you’re going 100 mph!

Woolx Base Layer

Woolx Base Layer

The sled dogs have a base layer of their own, Fur. The dogs have a dual fur coat consisting of a soft, dense under coat as well as a course outer coat.  The combination works wonders at protecting the dogs in extreme cold and provides a natural defense against wind, snow, and water.  Typically Alaskan huskies are chosen for the job. However “The dog we call the Alaskan husky isn’t a formal breed,” explains onetime musher Joe Runyan, who won Alaska’s Iditarod sled dog race in 1989. Rather, huskies are mixed-breed dogs that are selected “for performance, not looks,”. The dogs can pull a wheel-less sled weighing in at almost 175 pounds nearly 100 miles before needing a break. During breaks on the trail they’re fed and given any medications needed, they then nestle down in straw beds for a well deserved rest.

Alaskan Sled Dog

Alaskan Sled Dog,( photo courtesy of my brother Brian Washburn.)

The dogs and their musher train all year for the Iditarod Trail. Starting in March and held in Anchorage, AK.The trail is composed of two routes: a northern route, which is run on even-numbered years, and a southern route, which is run on odd-numbered years. Both follow the same trail for 444 miles (715 km), from Anchorage to Ophir, where they diverge and then rejoin at Kaltag, 441 miles (710 km) from Nome.

Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race

We’re very proud to be part of this historic American race, and everyone at Woolx wishes Jan Steves and her team the best of luck. Stay Warm, and (Ready….All….Right) to the finish line!


Stay tuned at Woolx Life for updates as Jan prepares for the 2015 race!