TOPEKA - Kansan engineer, adventurer and athlete Steve Watkins will once again undertake the "Last Great Race" as Kansas' lone musher. U.S. Army veteran Steve Watkins will mush in the 2018 Iditarod on March 3, which will be Watkins' last race and will mark his retirement from the sport.
"The Iditarod is a grueling and beautiful part of the American story," said Steve Watkins. "There's something very personal about the challenge. So, I race for my personal heroes - veterans and teachers."
The Iditarod is a 1,000-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome. With deadly cold temperatures, treacherous terrain, and unexpected obstacles to navigate, many seasoned and accomplished mushers are unable to finish the entire race - a strong testament to the debilitating nature of the "Last Great Race."
By undertaking the Iditarod once again, he hopes to send the message to young students: "Kansans can do anything." Steve said, "I hope to inspire kids to dream big and to trust in the timeless traits of hard work, honesty, kindness, and courage."
The last time Steve competed was in 2015, when he attempted to be the first to complete the Iditarod and climb Mt. Everest in the same year. He finished the race but 19,200 feet up Everest, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing over 8,500 people. 22 people died on Mt. Everest that day, six were members of Steve's team. It was the deadliest day in the history of Mt. Everest.
After the race, Steve Watkins will travel to elementary schools and organizations throughout Kansas to discuss his experiences in mushing, overcoming obstacles, and how students can challenge themselves to make the world a better place.
The 2018 Iditarod will take place on March 3.