Over two consecutive weekends in January and February 2017, Young Living Founder and Chairman of the Board D. Gary Young competed in two challenging dogsled races in Alaska, with a total of 500 race miles. Gary competed in these two races to raise awareness and money for The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation’s ongoing project in Nepal to rebuild homes destroyed in the devastating 2015 earthquake.
The first race Gary competed in was the Tustumena 200, a 200-mile out-and-back course through the Caribou Hills on the Kenai peninsula that started in Kasilof, with the halfway turn-around point in Homer.
The second race, the Willow 300, started and ended on Willow Lake, which is the same start location for the famed Iditarod’s southern route. The Willow 300 race course was less straightforward and had multiple out-and-back spurs as it wound through the wilderness beneath the shadow of Mt. Denali, the highest mountain in North America.
Gary had the same team of 12 dogs for both races, which were mostly young 2-year-olds. This was the first race for these dogs; and because of this, Gary commented that he and the dogs were learning how to race together.
Race checkpoints are scattered along the course at roughly 50-mile intervals, a distance that takes between five and six hours to cover depending on terrain and trail conditions. Midway between each checkpoint, Gary would stop for 10 minutes to give the dogs a snack, make sure they hadn’t lost any booties that protect their feet, and check on the harnesses and sled rigging.
After arriving at and signing in at a checkpoint, which brought on a huge feeling of accomplishment, there was no time to rest because taking care of the dogs was first priority. Only after the dogs were fed and resting could Gary shift his attention to his own needs of food and rest.
There are minimum layover time requirements at checkpoints to ensure that the dogs get adequate rest. After taking care of their dogs, the mushers eat and try to take a short nap, which on several occasions entailed laying out a sleeping bag on the snow beside the dogs, before it is time to get up and prepare dogs and sled for the next 50-mile segment of the trail.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with dogsled racing, it is nearly impossible to contemplate the challenges of mushing through the long, dark nights, subzero temperatures, and blinding whiteouts of the Alaskan wilderness. Gary’s use of Young Living products may be an inspiration to you as you face your own challenges.
Caring for the Dogs
The dogs were Gary’s most important partners in the race, so it was critical that they were taken care of in every aspect of their well-being.
Upon arriving at a checkpoint, all of Gary’s attention was given to caring for his dog team. Unhooking the dogs’ harnesses from the sled’s tug line signaled to them that they were off duty and that it was time to eat and rest. Gary then quickly removed their booties and spread straw out on the snow for them to lie down on.
After the dogs had eaten, Gary rubbed Animal Scents Ointment, made with Tea Tree and Myrrh, onto the paws of each dog. Gary also massaged some ointment onto his own hands at each checkpoint to keep them from cracking and bleeding in the dry, cold air.
Maintaining physical stamina can be difficult during any long journey, especially when that journey is one filled with freezing temperatures and sleep deprivation, both inherent parts of the grueling sport of dogsled racing. Gary, of course, relied on Young Living products to stay energized while mushing over the unforgiving and bitterly cold Alaskan terrain.
As there was very little time to stop and fix a meal or eat at the check stations, Gary mixed Pure Protein Complete and Slique Shake together for his protein drink, which he kept in a large 2-liter thermos to keep it from freezing; but even this would freeze in just a few hours when the temperature dropped to -20°F. At times, Gary resorted to sucking on a frozen NingXia Nitro until it thawed out, so he could have something to drink. Besides the Pure Protein and Slique Shake combo, he also snacked on Gary’s True Grit™ Einkorn Granola and frozen Chocolate-Coated Wolfberry Crisp Bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to be able to continue for the many miles and long hours ahead.
Anyone can use these products to power up before a busy day. Try one of our healthy protein shake recipes and munch on our delicious bars and wholesome granola, which will remind you of homemade granola recipes.
Gary kept NingXia® Nitro and NingXia Red packets tucked in the base layer of his clothing to keep them from freezing; however, when the temperature dropped below -10°F, they still froze solid. When he was heating the food for the dogs, several times he put a can of NingXia Zyng and a few NingXia Red packets on top of the pot on the stove to thaw them out to drink, just like you might drink some to help you through an afternoon slump.
Gary kept another 2-liter thermos filled with boiling water and 10 tea bags of Slique Tea, which he kept inside the sled. He used this thermos to refill a smaller 16-ounce thermos that he drank from during runs between checkpoints to help him stay warm and hydrated. The blend of Ocotea oil, oolong tea, and cacao in Slique Tea is formulated with nutritious ingredients to help support your weight-loss goals, but it is also a delicious drink for those moments when you need to wind down and warm up.
Taking Care of Yourself
Gary carried Thieves® Waterless Hand Purifier with him so that after putting the dogs’ booties on, which had to be done with bare hands in the freezing cold, he could clean his hands before putting his gloves back on. You may not be caring for a team of dogs, but these conveniently sized bottles are perfect when you need to freshen up.
The power-packed Melrose™ essential oil blend is perfect when your skin needs a little TLC. This blend of Tea Tree and Melaleuca Quinquenervia kept Gary’s hands feeling rejuvenated after holding onto the sled for so many hours, as well as caring for the dogs’ paws.
Gary also relied on the oil blend R.C.™—with its combination of Eucalyptus, Spruce, and Cyprus—which created an invigorating and refreshing aromatic feeling when he needed a moment to reset.
Defying limits and pushing through challenges required serious motivation and focus. Gary incorporated the empowering oil blends of Highest Potential™ and En-R-Gee™, which he rubbed on the ears of the dogs and onto his own scalp, neck, and windburned face to help him and his dogs stay focused on the goal and have the strength to cross the finish line. He also put his very favorite blend, Shutran™, on both himself and his dogs to help form a special bond between them.
Gary has stated many times that besides raising awareness for the Foundation’s efforts in Nepal, he hoped competing in and finishing these races would set an example for his children that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to, regardless of the obstacles that may stand in their way.
He also hoped that his example would encourage Young Living members to set new and higher goals in the areas of wellness, purpose, and abundance and have the courage to go out and achieve those goals.
What are some of your favorite essential oils or essential oil-infused products for getting through challenges?
This blog was reprinted with permission from the Young Living website.