Aaron Peck with Elevation Dogs out of Grand Prairie is no stranger to distance racing.
I think we could safely say he has the most miles on his runners than any of the other competitors this year, having run the Iditarod in 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2013.
Aaron can also proudly say he won the Canadian Challenge in 2011.
As a young boy at 13 he watched a program about the Iditarod on BBC Sports, his interest piqued he started picking up books about the race. One thing led to another, and at 37 he is deep into dogs.
He started with sprint racing for a couple of years but gradually moved into distance. He feels that distance has more dynamics with greater solitude giving him time alone. Also he gets to spend extra time with his dogs.
Distance seems to be where his heart is.
The past 4 years Aaron switched his gears and had been running the Wyoming Stage Stop race. From a financial perspective Wyoming is where you need to be. However lately he had become a little bored with stage racing as he didn't feel there was enough of a challenge.
He did try doing both the Wyoming race and the Iditarod the same year in 2013, and although he came in first in the Stage Stop he felt his run in the Iditarod wasn't as good as it could have been.
Aarons most memorable experience in all the running he has done with his dogs would have been at the 2009 Iditarod. He had to scratch in Elim just under 100 miles to Nome, the finish line. It was a bittersweet ending, but he felt it was probably the best thing to happen as it humbled him.
He realized that there was still so much to learn from his dogs. That he still had lots of growing to do.
Coming back to Saskatchewan this year he will be bringing a dog named Dakar. In 2011 he was just a yearling who almost didn't come to the Challenge with him. However Aaron ended up putting him in lead from La Ronge where he ran the last 120 miles helping to win the race that year.
Perhaps Dakar is the face of the Challenge.
Aaron has had a lot of fun getting ready for the race this year, but with a young family, a new property and business he almost didn't make it.
There are many of us who are glad he did.