The Iditarod® is one of Alaska’s proudest race traditions, stretching back to the gold rushes of the late 19thand early 20thcenturies. Today, dog mushing teams carry on the tradition of racing the Iditarod Trail, starting in Anchorage and racing for 998 miles over 8 to 15 days.
Why dogs? Because pound for pound, they are the most powerful draft animals on earth. A typical team of 20 dogs averaging 75 pounds apiece can match and surpass a team of horses that weigh more than twice as much. And dogs doing that much work require a lot of attention and care.
That’s why Wade Marrs of Stump Jumpin’ Kennel has turned to Flexadin® Advanced with UC-II® to help his dogs stand up to the rigors of the race. This year Wade competed with a 14-dog team, and we spoke with him to learn more about the race, the dogs, and how Flexadin® Advanced keeps his team fit, healthy and happy. Here’s what he had to say.
What set you on the path to mushing?
When I was very young my Uncle had a team of sled dogs and I trained with him a lot. My family says I was mushing dogs before I could walk! I finally ran my first two dog race when I was 8 years old. Since childhood I have been following the Iditarod, made it a goal to run the race and a dream to someday win!
What’s special about Iditarod to you?
The Iditarod is special because of where I grew up. Not just being born in Alaska, but being raised in the Dog Mushing Capital of the state! Knik, Alaska, Home of the Iditarod Founding Father, Joe Redington Sr. I remember going out on the trail by my house to watch the mushers go by. We would track them both at school and at home during the race. When I was younger, I would spend my free time running a small team of dogs pretending to be racing the Iditarod. Growing up with the Redington family, I was able to hear many stories of the old races and learn from those who had great experience in dog mushing. Very quickly I had a growing passion to be part of this race.
Beyond my childhood, the Iditarod is special is so many other ways. It’s hard to explain the feeling of happiness, accomplishment, and pride when training a team of dogs capable of doing what these dogs do. Like throwing the football outside with your kid and then watching them get that game winning touchdown…
Being alone with my team in the wilderness is one my favorite places to be!
How has Flexadin® Advanced helped your dogs?
It’s our priority to keep our dogs happy and comfortable while running down the trail and we always look for the most effective ways to do, so that is how we found Flexadin® Advanced. Since we have started using Flexadin® Advanced we have noticed an increased level of comfort and ease of mobility in our race dogs, especially those a little older in age that may have some joint changes.
For this race, you performed an experiment with Flexadin® Advanced. What did you do, and what did you learn?
We performed two experiments that I think showed pretty impressive results. We supplemented Flexadin® Advanced to a 9-year-old dog named Puma. Puma is one of the best lead dogs I have ever had the privilege of training and racing. As she has gotten older, she has started to develop some joint discomfort. She did not complete the last 2 Iditarods she started as she developed mild soreness. I will admit I was skeptical that she would complete the 1,000 miles this year. I spent the days leading up to Iditarod deciding between taking her and a young up-and-coming athlete. However, her shoulder stiffness never showed up all season, and she was looking strong leading up to the race. I’m happy to share that Puma finished in Nome looking great. Really proud of that dog, she continues to receive her Flexadin® Advanced daily!
Another test we did involved two teams from my kennel. We supplemented my main race team with Fleaxadin® Advanced, and a couple dogs on my second team running Iditarod with another musher. The dogs supplemented with Flexadin® Advanced on the second team performed and finished well, along with the dogs on my race team who looked amazing and had no joint stiffness.
What’s next for you?
For the summer we focus a lot on recovery! The dogs spend their summer days laying in the sun or running around the swamp on our property, a few may even take a dip in the lake! The off season gives us a lot of opportunity spend time with our dogs one on one instead of as a team. We will bring them inside the house to relax with us, go on hikes, take car rides to town, etc. The dogs are our family, our kids, and we value the bond we share with them. When there is no snow, we will run the teams on an ATV around our neighborhood trails but only on rainy cool days when the temperature is below 50 degrees.
I will be working construction this summer, and my fiancée Sophia and I will be getting married this August. Our 2019/2020 training season will begin in August as well! Currently we still have just enough snow and ice to mush the younger dogs so we can get them prepared for the next training season. We also have a couple litters of puppies on the way… hopefully some future champions!
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Wade! We’ll be cheering you on all year long – and can’t wait for next year’s race. And if your cats or dogs could use support for healthy joints and flexibility (whether or not they have a 1,000-mile race in their future), try Flexadin® Advanced today. Just one chew a day will help your pet get more out of life.