Mach 10, mastering the art of slowing down

two dogs next to each other, attached to a dog team
Matthew Failor’s go-to lead dog Mach 10 (right) prepares to start the 2023 Iditarod in Willow. (Alaskan Husky Adventures)

Iditarod musher Matthew Failor is excited that his leader Mach 10 has picked up a new skill: the art of the trot. 

“She’s kind of coming into her own at the age of 5, she’s finally figured out how to slow down and trot. She has been loping and galloping her whole life,” said Failor. 

Iditarod mushers want fast dogs, but it’s hard to be fast for 1,000 miles. Failor said that having economical running technique over the course of the long race pays off. 

“There are many mushers that want trotters because it’s the most efficient gate for a four-legged animal,” Failor said. “They spend the least amount of energy, you know, even a good pacer spends less energy than a dog that lopes.”

Mach 10 is running her fourth Iditarod with Failor. She has led during Bethel’s Kuskokwim 300 and brought Failor to podium finishes. And Failor has big plans for his star leader, who he said is the “cornerstone” of the team. 

“We’re hoping to breed her in the future to kind of, you know, bring up some young pups,” said Failor.

Mach 10 is part of our “Dog of the Day” series. Each day during the Iditarod, we’ll feature a new dog making the 1,000-mile dash to Nome. Earlier, we met DustyMoose, Boomer and JoAnna.

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Ben Matheson is covering the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at

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