Dogs vs. Coast Guardsmen in an all out race to the finish

 

Coast Guard sponosred racer, Ken Anderson departs the ceremonial starting line in Anchorage, Alaska. during the Iditarod on March 3, 2013. During last year's race, Ken and his dogs finished 4th place and traveled more than 1,049 miles. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

Coast Guard sponsored racer, Ken Anderson departs the ceremonial starting line in Anchorage, Alaska. during the Iditarod on March 3, 2013. During last year’s race, Ken and his dogs finished 4th place and traveled more than 1,049 miles. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

In remote or geographically isolated regions of Alaska like Kodiak getting out and finding physical outdoor activities can be a challenge, especially for those not naturally outward bound-minded. These outdoor excursions can be especially difficult when paired with winter weather. However, for Coast Guard members and their families, adventure and fitness can be found easily by visiting their local Morale, Welfare and Recreation office.

This winter, MWR personnel hosted a unique challenge for the first week of March that pitted man against animal in an all out race. Coinciding with the internationally famous Alaska Iditarod dog-sled race, teams of six to 14 Coast Guard members and their dependents were challenged to race against the dog teams to the finish line, a 986-mile distance, under their own power in one or more activities.

“There is a cap on miles you can do per day to keep people from running marathons and potentially hurting themselves,” said Todd Smith, the Coast Guard Base Kodiak MWR adult athletic director and manager of the Race Against the Dogs event. “We give them 100 miles per day and divide that by the number of members on that team, but on the sixth day we bump it up to 150 miles so that teams can catch up to the inherently faster dogs.”

Smith explained that there were a number of ways for team members to gain miles and different mileage calculations for different activities. Where activities like running, walking and use of elliptical machines translated as a one to one for mileage, other activities such as swimming and biking, were broken down into a fair but challenging scale.

A Coast Guard Air Starion Kodiak HC-130 Hercules airplane sits on the tarmac at Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, February 13, 2014. During the winter months, Coast Guard members often are required to exercise in near or below freezing temperatures. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.

A Coast Guard Air Starion Kodiak HC-130 Hercules airplane sits on the tarmac at Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, February 13, 2014. During the winter months, Coast Guard members often are required to exercise in near or below freezing temperatures. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.

“For biking we do five miles for every one mile because it is a lot easier than running,” said Smith. “For the swimming we made it ten laps up and back of a standard sized pool to equal one mile.”

At midnight every day, team members report their mileage to the team captain who then transmits their mileage to Smith via email.

“Throughout the entire race I have received more than 1,000 email reports in the course of the 7 days,” Smith said.

Out of 11 participating teams Hot Dog, comprised of both active duty members and dependents, won the event by covering the 986-mile race distance in 7 days beating their furry canine competition. The first Iditarod dog team to Nome this year was Dallas Seavey’s team, who made it in with a total time of 8 days 13 hours 4 minutes and 19 seconds.

While the MWR Race Against the Dogs event is not annual, Smith tries to host it every year, depending on community interest.

“Last year we had four or five teams,” said Smith. “But this year we had 11 teams, which is a great improvement.”

As long interest remains high, he plans to hold the event again next year, and in the end MWR events like the Race Against the Dogs benefit Coast Guard members in Alaska by providing incentive, fitness and morale.

“It’s easy for people in places like Kodiak and all over Alaska to fear the weather and just stay in,” Smith said. “Having events like this gives them a reason to get out, it gives them competition, an opportunity to get in shape and allows them to meet other like minded individuals in the community.”

For more information about the Coast Guard MWR program visit: http://www.uscg.mil/mwr/