SCOTLAND — An Aviemore man is pre- paring to fly to the US to train for one of the most gruelling sled dog races in the world.
John Stewart, 24, will compete for the first time in the 1,150-mile Iditarod, which involves racers and huskies dashing across the barren landscape of Alaska.
The event in March, often described as the greatest race on Earth, takes place over some the world’s most extreme terrain and in temperatures of -50C.
Mr Stewart, the race’s youngest qualifier, is hoping his long experience with sled dogs and racing will see him finish in the top 10.
The commercial diver has raced huskies since he was eight and has competed in races throughout the world.
His father, Alan, is a veteran sled dog racer and now runs the Cairngorm Sled Dog Centre on Rothiemurchus Estate, near Aviemore.
Mr Stewart jun will fly to the US in December for winter training with a top sled dog racer in preparation for the Iditarod and a second race, the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sleddog Race in Wyoming, in which he finished 10th last year.
Mr Stewart will train with four-times Iditarod champion Doug Swingley, who lives in Montana. Mr Stewart will also use Mr Swingley’s dogs in the races.
Mr Stewart said: “I am 100% confident. Finishing in the top 10 would be a massive achievement, especially for someone from the UK.”
He is now seeking sponsorship to fund his attempts on the epic races.
Mr Stewart sen is helping the fundraising by creating a DVD about one of the sport’s legendary racers, Scotty Allan.