On Saturday Joseph and Israel Hale became the first ever disabled team to finish the full 2,600-mile Iron Dog race. KNOM caught up with these rookies, now finishers, in the garage during their layover in Nome.
The brothers were the first team into Nome just as the racers trickled in Monday morning ahead of their restart.
“We were coming into Nome, and I hadn’t done a lot of praying that we could win or anything like that, but I was like, ‘Lord, keep these snow machines running; we’d really like to be first into Nome today.’ And he answered my prayer by 18 seconds, so you can’t beat that.”– Joseph Hale
That is Joseph, the oldest, he rides with his younger brother Israel who is a double amputee. The brothers participated in the Iron Dog last year.
Israel: “We ran the trail class last year, and we pulled in here first in the trail class teams by about 7 hours I think.”
Joseph: “I don’t quite think it’s that much.”
But what is driving them to compete at the pro level? Israel fields that question.
“Mostly to inspire people to push forward in life despite issues of disability or despite mental capacity, and just do something that’s never been done. For both of us, it was just to do something that most people think is impossible or we kind of even thought might be impossible ourselves.”– Israel Hale
Israel Hale was in his early twenties when he was hit by a car traveling at 50 mph while attempting to work on a collapsed trailer on the side of the road. He survived, but without his legs. He was presented with a life challenge he had never expected to face.
While recovering and regaining his strength, he began taking snow machining much more seriously, even with the challenges of navigating the sport as a double amputee.
Ahead of the 2021 Iron Dog he was recorded saying “I know it won’t be easy, so much of my life hasn’t been. The only difference is that this time, it is a challenge I’m choosing for myself.”
On Saturday afternoon in Big Lake, the Hale brothers became the first ever disabled team to cross the pro-class Iron Dog finish line. Before concluding our interview at the garage, the brothers wished to part with a message for anyone listening.
“Don’t give-up spirit even when life is hard because life comes at us from all different angles and some days it’s really hard. Out on the race, the trail is really hard. People have no idea the challenge. If you put your mind and heart to it and it’s what you want to do, you can make yourself do it. It’s not always going to be easy, but easy isn’t always good. Not just the race, but anything in life whether it’s work or family or anything.”– Joseph Hale
Image at top: Joseph and Israel Hale arriving into Nome, Iron Dog 2021. Photo by: