Scott Smith Takes 10th in the 2016 Iditarod

Watching a tracker is a horrible thing. I’d rather do almost anything else, and I’d especially rather be mushing.

Nevertheless, a deal is a deal, and this year isn’t my year. In one year, that will be me, and all you suckers will be clicking refresh one million times. I’ll look up at you and smile, and only envy you your sleep.

Scott pulled it off. A race deserving of this team. Tenth place. Top ten. This is something that will put his name in the books, that does mean something. Well-earned, deserved.

When I watched the team pull in via live cam, I cried. That’s the truth of it.

There’s my dog, at the front of the line, and a guy who might as well be my brother, and between them these dogs who I have gotten so close to, who I love like my own.

It has been a long year, a tough one, especially for Scott. And he’s done his team truly proud in this finish.

I love that no one pegged him for top ten. I love that he didn’t even begin to get a mention from all the analysts until about mid-way through the race. I love that he’s the second-least picked musher for the big Iditarod fantasy teams. I love that some Insider interviewer asked him if it was cool that he had been in the back and was now in the front.

This has been his potential all along. I don’t know all of Scott’s stats, but if you look, you’ll see they are impressive. Quietly impressive. I’ve decided that he’s a mushing ninja. After about 4-5 days on the trail with nary a photo of him to be found, it occurred to me that either he was secretly not in the Iditarod, or he’s just a sneaky SOB. Or, he’s underestimated.

Sometimes it’s nice to fly under the radar. Scott’s done it for a long time. People don’t really know his name, but somehow he tends to sneak into higher rankings than you think.

Maybe people will remember his name now. They should. What an impressive race. The dogs at RDR are not the best of any dogs out there. But they are a good crew, a happy crew.

Listen, we trained this team starting with 17 dogs.


That is crazy. No one starts their year out with 17 race dogs. They have a pool, some depth. At least 20. At least.

Nope, we started with 17. And we focused on them. And between good luck and great training, by race day, the number of dogs we could chose from– who had all the miles, and hadn’t had to heal from any injuries– was… 17. It was a pick of luxury. It was a matter of who he wanted.

I’m not going to say all the things RDR does, no sharing trade secrets, but I’ll tell you one thing Scott does. He loves his dogs. A lot. He genuinely cares about every one of them, and his dedication and focus and time is doled out on each, and I think it shows. I think that’s what brought a team of solid dogs into this top ten tier.

I am so, so proud. I am so privileged. To have gotten to work side by side with this crazy, driven, stubborn dude, whose first words after his house burned down this summer were “Start rebuilding.” I’m so proud to have gotten to put thousands of miles on this team. I’m so privileged to get to be part of this kennel.

I cried when the team crossed the line. That was my team out there, my pack. Right before they left, I said it felt weird to let them all go without me. And it’s been weird watching them conquer this race from the sidelines.

They did it perfectly.

Scott, you overcame a tough, long year. You executed an incredible race. You worked your fingers to the bone, you dedicated so much.

I’m filled with pride so much that it feels like a new understanding of the word. So proud.

And now, time to focus.

For in one year, that’s me. Giving these dogs the race they deserve. I don’t know if I can do it half as well as Scott, but I’ll do my very best.

We’re a hell of a team. And maybe some people know our name, the name of Red Dog Racing, now.

Watch out… Here comes round two.