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Wykoff man preparing for 2020 Iditarod

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NEAR WYKOFF, Minn. (KTTC) -- Damon Ramaker is bracing for a trip he most likely will never forget, as he represents the state of 10,000 lakes in Alaska for the 2020 Iditarod.

The Iditarod race is an annual long-distance sled dog race that happens in Alaska in early March.

Ramaker is a full-time emergency room nurse at Mayo Clinic- Saint Marys. "It's kind of random I stumbled into it, I've always been interested in dog powered sports," Ramaker smiled.

Damon Ramaker sitting next to one of his Alaskan Huskies.

On top of his job for the past four months, Ramaker has also become a full-time musher (dog sled driver). "Ideally, by the time we get to the Iditarod we should have 2,000 miles or more on the team," Ramaker said.

In March, he's taking that passion across 1,000 miles of Alaskan terrain. "It's kind of an interesting race, you get really three different elements that you get to run in," Ramaker added.

Ramaker has been training with more than two dozen huskies for the race of a lifetime. He'll be using about half that number for the actual race. But when it comes to choosing that A-team to take to Alaska, it's no easy task.

"We consider things like how good of an eater they are, how quick they can recover after a long run," Ramaker said. "They work so hard they rub the fur out of their armpit," a dog handler added.

While every dog plays a vital role in getting to that finish line, the placement of these dogs on the line is crucial. The first four are the most important and the rest of the dogs are team dogs. Ramaker also said it takes personalities into account when pairing the dogs.

Alaskan Husky.

A man's best friend helping Ramaker get through the harsh elements with one goal in mind.

"You're continuously presented with different challenges that you just critical think and work your way through it and hopefully make the right decisions and you get to move on," Ramaker giggled.

He is still raising money to fund this expensive dream and he is very close to that goal of $30,000.

To learn more about the team and a way to donate, click here.

Ubah Ali

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