Aaron Peck’s dogsled cut a path across the icy Alaskan wilderness, an unshakeable melancholy crept into his normally steely focus on the task at hand. The veteran musher was trying to get to Nome. Preferably before the other mushers on the trail. He was engaged in a test of his limits, racing the Iditarod, his sport’s most prominent event. Yet what was normally a thrilling adventure for Peck, who fell in love with sled dog racing as a 13-year-old, was this year beginning to feel, in his own words, downtrodden.
The Iditarod takes complete mental and physical devotion as mushers navigate nearly 1,000 miles of remote terrain from Anchorage to Nome. It is normally an annual highlight for both the communities it intercepts and the athletes themselves.