Iditarod feels like it’s one of the ultimate endurance tests. There’s a certain level of survival between all of us together. Travelling on your dog team, you’re creating your own wind chill factor of 8-12 miles an hour and if it’s already 40 below it’s hard to breathe. At least we’re gonna give a little extra food to Claw and Durnax. Yeah. We have 43 adult dogs and then 12 puppies. Nobody's home. We’re with them every single day. A lot of people will all say, “How you do keep them all straight? How do you remember? Do they all have names?” It's like, of course they all have names, and, yeah, they’re our fur family. She lifts me up when I’m feeling down and encourages me if I’m having a tough time. And likewise, I can do the same for her. Not many people can learn how to walk together, or learn how to drive a car for the first time. We have never missed a birthday with each other, from day one, and I think that’s a pretty special thing. And I don’t know what’s it like to not be a twin. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. To run the Iditarod, it takes, for the fastest teams, just over about eight and a half days. It’s something that you work for all year round, be fit, definitely is an advantage. Anna and Kirsty are very good competitive ultra-athletes, running 100-mile races and that sort of thing. When they apply that to mushing, I mean, it just gives them a huge advantage. When it’s really, really cold, you have to be comfortable, taking very slow, almost shallow breaths because if you take a huge gulp of air, you’re gonna start coughing and almost gagging, because it’s too cold for your lungs to deal with. You need that oxygen to go through to help you metabolise energy. So, it’s a physiologic necessity. We’re travelling as this one unit down the trail which we rely on one another to get where we wanna go. It’s a deep, deep connection and a bond that can’t be broken, and it’s hard to compare it to anything else. The weather is, I think, one of the most challenging things to deal with because it’s unpredictable. It can get dangerous, we’ve encountered some really, really nasty storms with hurricane-force winds, where your sled’s being blown over sideways, glare ice where you really wouldn’t walk on. The coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced while mushing dog was 63 below. We just breathe out of your nose because it forces you to kind of concentrate and get more out of that air and take shorter smaller breaths and to not panic cause you can’t breathe. Why do we do this? It’s…I think definitely a love of dogs, adventure. Just an amazing experience all the way around. Even better to share it with Anna because we’ll be talking about this for the rest of our lives. Well, for Kristy this will be her 10th Iditarod and for me, Anna, this will the my 8th Iditarod. It’s a really great sport as it is, because we’re judged on an even playing field for men and women, there’s no handicap. I think that’s really unique for the sport and I think that’s great. I remember when I ran my first Iditarod, someone had made the comment “She’s never gonna make it past McGrath, she’s just a pretty face.” and at first, I was little bit like, "What?" You know I worked so hard to get here, you don’t know me. At the same time, it was kind of motivation too, it’s like, I’ll show you and then I’m gonna run it again next year. - I would like to drive through here right now. - Yeah. Going in Iditarod you feel all the feels. You’ll get nervous, you get excited. I mean, it’s great but I don’t like all the pomp and circumstance of it all, the ceremonial start, the banquets and stuff and I love all the fans but I don’t do that for all that stuff. If there was no Iditarod, I’d still wanna mush dogs out in the middle of nowhere, but this is great opportunity to go places with a dog team that I wouldn’t without this race so, I can’t wait to get out on the trail. Run longer. It’s just you and your dogs and that’s all you have to care about. Nothing else. Sleep less.


The Twins Chasing Dogsled Dreams in Sub-Zero Alaska

This is a sample from our ‘Quit Cigarettes’ mission, which is currently live in the UK. Our goal is to increase the amount of people in the UK who quit cigarettes. Read more about our first mission here.

Think you’ve got what it takes to try out sled dog racing? It’s hard to breathe when you’re facing sub zero temperatures. It’s harder if you’re a smoker. Twin sisters Anna and Kristy Berington have been mushing dogs for years. Here’s how they make sure they’re physically fit and ready to face the elements.