Who says South Africans can’t stand the cold? Gerhardt Thiart, a proud South African, is challenging the stereotype by participating in one of the world’s toughest races – the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The annual dog sled race takes place in March between the icy cities of Anchorage and Nome, Alaska, United States. The race is said to attract around 100 participants and their teams of eager pooches ready to take on snow and the icy winds of this chilly region.
After watching a DVD of the Iditarod nearly 20 years ago, this race has been on Gerhardt and his wife AJ’s bucket list ever since.
The start of the race took place last Saturday, 5 March in Anchorage, with the winner having whooshed into Nome, Alaska to claim the top spot on 14 March. Brent Sass, a veteran musher from the United States has currently claimed the first spot, while Gerhardt has gone on to claim the 37th spot.
Not bad for a guy from sunny South Africa. Along with this wife, the rookie musher has shared this incredible dream with best friends – Natalie and Andre van der Merwe, who took on the role of mentors and got them started in the sport, reports SA People.
Dirt farm roads and wheeled scooters and carts were what they used before emigrating to the USA and calling the States home around 12 years ago.
Gerhardt is the first South African to take part in the sledding race, and perhaps the first musher to tuck into a delicious bag filled with biltong to keep his energy up.
The race is certainly a gruelling one, with the distance covered between the two cities being 864 kilometres. The distance travelled depends on each team, however, Gerhardt travelled from checkpoint to checkpoint as he ran a yearling team, ensuring that the dogs had a positive experience as they ran their first long-distance race, stated the online publication.
Along with South Africa’s favourite snack, as a former lieutenant in the SADF, Gerhardt has been waving the SA flag on his yellow as he raises support and awareness for US veterans.
Well done Gerhardt!
Check out Gerhardt’s official start: