Tell us a little about yourself and your Kennel.
My name is Christina Gibson and I am 16 years old. I grew up in the western part of Washington state, and now live in the Methow Valley located in Eastern Washington. I run Whiteout Racing Kennel and have been racing and training Sled Dogs for three years, running races in the ‘lower 48’.
I hope to eventually produce a top competitive mid-distance team racing at 100-250 miles, while also promoting high standards of care for Sled Dogs, and eventually moving towards distance racing. My team will be racing in the 2018 Junior Iditarod.
I live with my mom, eight racing dogs, one retired leader, and a miniature Australian Shepherd that rules the roost.
What introduced you to dog mushing? What was your first experience like?
I was about three or four when I watched the movie 'Balto', and decided I wanted to run, and win, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. My mom understandably assumed it was a phase and I would soon forget about it.
I was twelve when I got in touch with some Washington Mushers, and got to run a dog for the first time. I was immediately hooked.
Describe the dogs on your team. What about them do you enjoy the most?
I run eight Alaskan Huskies, from different lines. I have immense appreciation for how positive they are all the time! Their happiness tends to rub off on people, it certainly has on me.
Each one is unique, not one has the same personality as another. Getting to know each individual and their quirks is really special, and it's one of the things I enjoy the most.
What does your training regimen look like? How long are you on the trail with them?
We build miles and speed slowly as the season progresses, so the dogs can become accustomed to training. Similar to a human athlete, they cannot go from 0-100 right away. You wouldn't run a 10k without training for it, and dogs are the same way, (though they are much better athletes.).
Our training schedule begins with a one day on, one day off schedule, and as the dogs progress in training and gain confidence, we switch to two days on, one day off.
Time on the trail peak season could be roughly anywhere around seven hours depending on mileage and speed. The dogs being confident at whatever distance|speed combination is important.
What do your dogs do in the off season?
I try and free run them most days, which means letting them out together to let them socialize and explore as a group. I have certainly seen the benefits of them connecting as a team and connecting to me from it.
A few of my dogs like to wade so they have a small pool they can splash around in and use to cool off on really hot days.
They also really love to chase a ball, so I have Kong toys they regularly play with all year round!
What has been your most memorable experience as a dog musher?
I think watching the dogs grow into their full genetic and personal potential has been so beautiful to get to watch happen. It's so special seeing them thrive at what they enjoy doing. I feel honored to be apart of that for each of them.
What’s your advice to other mushers?
Trusting your dogs makes all the difference.