We’re now three days into the 2019 Iditarod. During the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, participants drive sleds and teams of 16 dogs across the state of Alaska, from Anchorage to Nome.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fur traders and miners began showing up in large numbers along Alaska’s western coast and settlements like Nome began to grow. In the winter, when ports were iced over, dog sleds were the only connection Nome had to Alaska’s larger cities. The settlers relied on mushers to carry mail and much-needed food and supplies. The most famous run was the “Great Race of Mercy” in 1925 when 20 mushers relayed medication to Nome during a diphtheria epidemic. To commemorate the life-saving race and keep up the sport, the Iditarod as we know it today was founded in 1973.
In this week’s race, the sled drivers, called mushers, will travel anywhere from eight days to more than two weeks along the historic trail. They usually end up driving through dangerous blizzard conditions, covering 100 miles every day.
The heroic story and adventurous conditions are inspirational, even for those of us who can’t keep a goldfish alive and who put on a coat when the temperature drops below 65°. In fact, as investors, there’s a lot we can learn from the Iditarod:
You’re In It for the Long Haul
The Iditarod Trail covers more than 1,000 miles through Alaskan tundra and forest. It’s much more a marathon than a sprint. The musher and dogs need to trust each other and work well together over the entire trail. To cover that much challenging ground, they need stamina just as much as speed. The same is true when you’re trading on the stock market.
A good stock portfolio is meant to be held on to. It may not be the most exciting to watch and you might even experience losses, but if your portfolio is well-rounded, it will bounce back given enough time. That’s why it’s important to have a balanced portfolio that will grow gradually and get you the best long-term results.
Save for a Rainy – or Snowy – Day
Whether you’re talking about money or dog rations, it’s important to remember that a storm is always brewing somewhere. Blizzards are very common on the Iditarod Trail and it’s important for mushers to always reserve their dog’s strength in case gale force winds set in. If they’ve invested all their resources too early on, they could be in trouble.
When you’re investing your money, you have to be just as careful. You never know when your car will break down or someone will get sick. Investing your money is the best way to make it work for you but it can mean it won’t be there when you need it. That’s why you should always leave a little bit aside for emergencies.
Have a Plan
Luck plays a major role in the Iditarod. But at the same time, good planning can make all the difference. For example, mushers have to carefully calculate which supplies they carry, what they restock at checkpoints, and what they leave behind. They have to study the route and often spend years breeding and training their dog teams.
The same is true when you’re stock investing. Economic ups and downs can hit you hard, but they’ll be a lot easier to weather if you’ve planned carefully. You want to craft a portfolio that is well-balanced between different sectors, risk-levels, and types of stocks. Then you can easily check-in periodically and rebalance so that your portfolio stays strong.
Take Calculated Risk
There’s no getting around it: the stock market and the Iditarod are both risky businesses. Of course, in one you’re risking money, in the other, you’re risking life and limb. In both cases though, the trick is to find the best possible risk-reward ratio. For mushers, that means training your team carefully and using your resources wisely. For stock investors, it means building a diverse, well-balanced portfolio.
We’re not all built to drive a team of sled dogs a thousand miles across the frozen tundra. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all learn a thing or two from the people who are. This next couple of weeks, join Cherries as we cheer on the Iditarod mushers and invest with a spirit of adventure!