Posted on January 16 2020
Congrats Julia Cross for fulfilling your dream and passion to compete in the 2020 Junior Iditarod and coming 2nd Place. Fantastic Julia from all your admiring fans and staff of Gear Up For Outdoors Ltd.
Julia is heading to Alaska from her last race at the Beargrease outside of Duluth, MN. We rec'd a letter of thanks via Dog Sled Team from Julia we wanted to share with you all.
Gear Up For Outdoors is a proud supporter of Julia Cross and her dream of competing in the 150 mile Junior Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska on February 29, 2020.
Julia embodies what Gear Up For Outdoors is all about; Youth, Women, Animals & The Great Outdoors.
Follow Julia on her Quest to Alaska:
Gear Up For Outdoors has partnered with Julia providing her with the warmest clothing, footwear & accessories while training & competing during the year in preparation for racing her dog sled teams in the most extreme winter conditions.
Gear Up For Outdoors thanks all our suppliers for contributing to Julia's Dream; AMK, Baffin, Buff Canada, Fjallraven, Ganka/GKS, Outdoor Research, Petzl, Smartwool & The North Face Canada.
For the past 12 years I have devoted my life to sled dogs. I knew from a young age that when I grew up, I wanted to go up to Alaska and run the Iditarod. This year, I have been given the opportunity to go up to Alaska and compete in the Junior Iditarod. The Junior Iditarod is a race put on by the Iditarod for kids aged 14-17 and takes place at the end of February. It is a 150-mile race with 10 dogs. You and the other racers are completely on your own in the Alaska Wilderness with some of the best canine athletes in the world. The race follows a 75-mile trail to the checkpoint of Yetna Station. There, you must rest for 10 hours before heading back another 75 miles to the finish line. The Junior Iditarod is the longest running junior dogsled race, having started 43 years ago. In its 43-year history, only 3 Canadians have ever entered the race, and there has never been a Canadian champion. I am very excited to get to represent Canada in such an awesome event. Not only am I excited to represent Canada, I am excited to represent Canadian Women. Only 9 women have ever won the Junior Iditarod in its history. I am so excited to be a successful Canadian woman in a male dominated event.
I have been racing sled dogs for 6 years and run the racing team Criss Cross Racing. In my 6-year racing career I have won several awards and am the 2016 and 2019 Junior Beargrease Champion. I have also won the Beargrease Sportsmanship award (2018), Beargrease Rookie of the year award (2019) and Beargrease Vet’s Choice award (2019). All these accomplishments have been stepping stones and learning experiences for my toughest race yet, the Junior Iditarod.
In preparation for this year’s race, I have a lot of training to do. I need to be capable of taking care of me and the 10 canine athletes in Alaska’s harsh winter elements. The race follows along a river, and temperatures have been known to drop down to the -40’s. This is nothing new to me. I am used to running in these temps, but in the hills of Minnesota, with cover from the trees. I will be more open to the elements along this race trail. I enjoy the cold, and the scenery in Alaska in the winter is breathtaking. I look forward to putting my skills to the test, but not without training. I need to sharpen up my winter camping skills. The majority of the races I have competed in have been handler inclusive races. This means that I get to have a group of friends and family help me along the race at checkpoints taking care of the dogs and have everything ready and awaiting me at each checkpoint. The Junior Iditarod is a non-handler race. This means I will have no help, and everything will be done by myself. This is a super fun opportunity for me and will really allow me to connect with the dogs as it will be just me and them for 150 miles. In preparation I will be doing some winter camping practice and practice my winter survival skills. This includes starting fires, first aid, and making sure I know the signs of danger on the trail.
The dogs themselves need a lot of training in preparation for the race as well. The team I am racing is from a good friend of mine and well-known musher, Ryan Redington. Ryan is the grandson of the founder of the Iditarod and has been involved in dog mushing his whole life. The dogs I am racing are entered in the Gunflint Mail Run, Beargrease Marathon, and the UP 200. The majority of the dogs on the team are seasoned race veterans, having run numerous races in their lives. Before any of the races start, the dogs will have run near a thousand miles in training runs to ensure they are in tip top shape to compete.
My success in racing is nothing without my incredible sponsors, especially Gear Up for Outdoors. Gear Up first partnered with me in 2016. They have helped equip me with the warmest and most durable gear that I have needed for my races. They have followed me throughout each and every race and have been there for me as proud supporters of my dream, all the while outfitting me with what was needed to excel. I am so thankful for all they have done for me and my team.
Dog mushing is not an inexpensive sport. It costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to train and maintain a dogsled team. As a senior in high school, these costs can be overwhelming. Everything I make goes straight into the dogs. The Junior Iditarod is both my longest and toughest race yet and I will need a lot of support to be successful. You can follow along on my adventure and donate to my journey to Alaska through my Facebook page Criss Cross Racing. Updates and opportunities to help with the costs can be found there. I am so excited to share my passion and dreams with the world. Happy Trails!!
Criss Cross Racing