Living in an area with a climate like that of West Georgia (one that is lucky to get half an inch of snow during the coldest part of winter), most do not hear much about sled dogs.
But Anna Marmann of Villa Rica has set out to change that, after she and her sled dog team were selected as one of the top competing teams in the country to be on Team USA for the International Federation of Sleddog Sports (IFSS) Dryland World Championships this November, held in Olvega, Spain.
Marmann grew up locally and attended Bremen High School before graduating from The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She also attended additional semesters at The University of West Georgia, focusing on Mathematics and Physics courses.
While she underwent this rigorous academic path, a childhood dream from a movie stuck with her and eventually put her on the sled dog path.
“My favorite movie growing up was Iron Will, which is about a young man following his passion of racing sled dogs,” Marmann said. “I fell in love with the Siberian Husky breed and have wanted one since I was 8 years old. I finally got my first Siberian Husky in 2018 and she is my best friend in the entire world.”
After that, she just needed a sport that was warm-weather friendly, and that was exactly what she found.
In her words, “I then came across on social media the dry-land sled dog sports such as bikejoring, scooterjoring, rig and canicross to realize I could do these sports in Georgia on our trails in the cooler months. So this turned from learning the sport in Georgia to traveling up north to compete in both dry land and snow disciplines of the sled dog sports.”
She has now been in the sport for four and a half years and has been racing three years, serving as a key figure or leader in a number of organizations related to dog sledding.
Marmann currently owns four huskies, named Lumi, Kovaa, Mahti and Fiksu. Right now, she only competes in events that require one or two dogs, as two of her dogs are still young and need further training and experience.
And it takes a lot to train and take care of the dogs to optimize their performance.
“The team has canine physical therapists, masseuses, excellent veterinarians at Banfield Pet Hospital — we work with coaches and mentors, pool memberships at Crowe Farm Canines in Roopville for conditioning, and a very well tailored nutrition and conditioning plan,” said Marmann.
“Many key areas have to be broken down for such a dynamic sport,” she continued regarding their training. “First off, my dogs not only have to be physically conditioned but also mentally ready. We are very consistent with physical training and slowly ramping up to ensure we avoid injuries but also making sure the dogs maintain outstanding work ethic.”
Outside of dog sled racing, the Bremen graduate has been working with Decostar Industries for over 14 years, which is a Magna Exteriors plant in the Automotive Industry. She has held various roles such as Product Engineering, Program Management, Production Launch, World Class Manufacturing and Business Development.
“I definitely have to be creative with my time and define which things outside of work hold value when it comes to allocating my free time,” she said. “For example, I will train dogs incredibly early in the morning before work, complete my personal fitness training during a lunch break, and then throw in a bike handling skills ride after work.”
With this Olympic-level competition coming up, Marmann is looking for as much support as she can get.
“We have started our process in trying to fundraise for our trip to the World Championships in Olvega, Spain to compete on Team USA,” she said. “We would love any ideas anyone might have to fundraise for such a financially challenging journey.”
The Dryland World Championships will be held in Olvega, Spain from November 20-26. Those interested in Marmann’s journey can keep up on the Lumina Tribe Facebook or Instagram pages.