Help Us Get to Nome!

the Cost of Running Dogs

Support Alison

The sport of dog racing has been compared to an expensive hobby by many mushers. While I work very hard in the off season on the Norris Glacier to earn enough money to support my winter endeavors, the truth is anything helps when it comes to putting a dog team together to run in competitive races. The Iditarod, in particular, is an expensive race to run because it takes place off the road system. The following is a quick summary of some of the costs that go into running the Iditarod (these estimates don't include the costs of caring for the dogs and getting them trained for the race in months leading up to the race):

  • Entry fee: $4,000

  • Travel Costs:  $1,500.  Since the Iditarod is off the road system, you have to pay to fly your dogs home from the finish line in Nome, Alaska, along with yourself, at least one handler, and all your gear. 

  • Misc. Expenses the week before and the week after the race:  $1,000.  There is a LOT of little details outside of the race to remember like the travel for all the pre-race meetings, vet checks, and ceremonial start and restart. Then there is the purchase of food in Nome, a remote town where food is very expensive, once you finish. Also there is the cost of shipping sky kennels to Nome.

  • Dog Booties:  $1,500.  Each bootie roughly costs $1/bootie depending on the manufacturer. Each dog needs 4 booties per roughly 50 miles of trail and there are 14 dogs in a team.

  • Dog Food:  $2,400.  These figures can vary depending on the type of dog food, the amount of time on the trail, and the number of dogs used in each race.  The Iditarod does not return unused dog food from the checkpoints, and since they require a 60 pound minimum per drop bag, that can lead to an unfortunate amount of wasted food.  Each musher will ship out between 1,200 and 1,800 pounds of dog food, which averaged out to about $1.00 per pound.  On top of the food bill is the cost to ship it out, also $1.00 per pound.

  • Sled Maintenance Costs:  $500.  This primarily covers cost of plastic for the sled runners (I'll probably ship out 4 rolls of plastic each, at $80 per set) and spare parts. 

  • Musher Food:  $250.  This covers the food sent out in the musher's drop bag to refuel themselves when they resupply at each checkpoint. This will include meals, snacks, and drinks.

  • Musher's Personal Items:  $500.  This amount may vary depending on what I am able to scrounge together, but this estimate covers many basic drop bag items like socks, batteries for headlamps and gps, toiletries, hand and foot warmers, as well as the mini bags that separate my dog food from my personal gear.

  • Other Equipment & Gear:  $8,000.  These estimates include a wide variety of things, like:  ganglines, harnesses, sleds, sled bags, my mandatory gear required by the race (cooker, ax, sleeping bag, snowshoes), snow hooks, ski poles, dog coats, dog leggings, medications, and supplements, cooler, dog bowls, and food ladle.  Then there is my personal gear which includes long underwear, jackets, fur hood ruff, Anorak, gloves, over-mittens, neck gators, boots, headlamps, goggles, hats, and many other articles of clothing to keep me warm.  Most of these items I have already acquired over the last 5 years or will be able to borrow from my friends or from my boss, Linwood Fiedler, and thankfully won't need to purchase them for Iditarod.


My estimate for what it will cost me: $10,000-$15,000 



How you can Support the Team

  • Support an individual dog down the trail by sponsoring one of the team - $350

Your sponsorship will help outfit your dog of choice in booties, dog coats, and be fed the best of the best in feed for the trail to Nome.​ (Be sure to notate which dog you are sponsoring in the PayPal optional message section)

  • Wheel Dog Sponsors - $100

Wheel dogs are integral parts of the team and the dogs closest to the musher and the sled. They are essential in the steering of the sled​

  • Team Dog Sponsors -$500

Team dogs are the engine and heart of the team; they are the dogs in between the lead dogs and wheel dogs. Without them you wouldn't have a team.​

  • Lead Dog Sponsors - $1000

Lead dogs are the team's main force and forward drive to reach their destination no matter the trail or obstacle. Without good lead dogs your team would crumple and go nowhere. ​

  • Checkpoint Sponsors - $Varies

Pick your favorite checkpoint from along the Iditarod trail whether it be Rainy Pass, deep in the Alaskan Range, or Unalakleet, the first checkpoint on the windswept coast of the Norton Sound. Once you pick a checkpoint of your choice, the amount you donate is the distance from the previous checkpoint to the checkpoint you choose. This sponsorship will help me get the needed supplies for along the trail and help me ship it there for resupply during the race.

  • The Bootie Fund - $Varies

Any amount you feel like donating to go towards outfitting the team's furry participant's feet for 1,000 miles.​ To protect our dogs' feet, mushers put booties on the dogs feet when they run on abrasive trail or for long distances. 4 feet times 14 athletes needing new booties roughly every 50 miles comes out to a lot of booties! Each bootie costs roughly $1 each and the goal is to have 1,500 - 2,000 booties for the race. 



  • T-Shirt SWAG order - $20 for T-shirts; $25 for long sleeve

Support the team while sporting a soft ​52% cotton, 48% polyester blend shirt made by Bella + Canvas, screenprinted by ChaosInk. In the PayPal comment section please tell me your color preference and a good address to ship to. See below for color options

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