The 60-hour race across frozen territory was a big leap for Staff Sgt. Thomas Carl.
The infantry guardsman and Alaska native completed the Kuskokwim-300 dogsled race in January in Bethel, Alaska, according to an Army release. At 300 miles, as the name implies, the race was at least 225 miles longer than the ones he’d done before.
He stood in for his father-in-law, who has raced 16 times in Iditarod and 29 times in the K-300, but for health reasons he couldn’t race this year, so he asked Carl to go.
Carl represented the Alaska Army National Guard in the race, and his unit, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, has helped run the race since 2016, assisting with race checkpoints and the resupply of mushers. They make it part of their cold-weather training.
Carl is an Akiak native who first learned to mush in a training sled behind his father-in-law, Michael Williams. Before the K-300, he had competed in a local 25-mile sprint in Akiachak and the 75-mile Akiak dash.
In the K-300, Carl raced 11 dogs on the 300-mile trail, finishing in tenth place on the morning of Jan. 22 after nearly 60 hours of race time and little sleep.
“Preventing injury was my main priority,” Carl said, referring to his dogs.
Carl served in the Marine Corps before joining the National Guard, the release said. Serving in Alaska allowed him to live near family. He is married with two daughters and makes it a focus to preserve and share his Native Alaskan heritage. That includes dogsledding.
“There’s no feeling that’s close to running the dogs,” he said in the release. “I love it.”