Jessie Holmes hails from Nenana, Alaska, and was a newcomer to Life Below Zero this season. One thing was immediately obvious to fans of the show, and that was the fact that Holmes is totally devoted to his dogs. Over the course of several episodes, Jessie Holmes worked tirelessly to provide food and shelter for them, even building their dog houses himself. Along with careful conditioning and training, Jessie’s hard work and dedication have now paid off.
According to the Fairbanks News Miner, the 33-year-old Jessie Holmes won the Yukon Quest 300, crossing the finish line in the Steese Highway community of Central at 3:43 p.m. on February 8. Although this is Jessie’s first year participating in this race, he stated in his race bio that he was using this competition to test his dogs for the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest that will be held next year.
Holmes shared with the Whitehorse Daily Star that the win was a “mind-blowing” experience. Jessie believes the turning point to victory was when he decided to pick up the pace and take the lead after Two Rivers. Jessie Holmes went on to say that the highlight of the race was ascending Eagle Summit alongside defending 1,000-mile race champion Brent Sass.
Jessie Holmes is no stranger to racing; he has been running dogs for 10 years and finished second in the Old Mail Trail 200 last year. Holmes also competed and finished two other races: the Kuskokwim 300 and the Yukon Flats 300. With this impressive finish, Jessie Holmes should be confident enough in his dogs that he could be a major contender in the Yukon Quest.
Sue Aikens, a Life Below Zero co-star, cheered him on from her Facebook page.
“One of LBZ’s own looks to be in very good position to win this years Yukon Quest 300 Race!! Good luck Jessie… only 20 miles left.. but Aliy has picked up speed!! Be safe racing pups!!”
The person she is referring to is Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers, who won the race in 2014 and finished this race at 4:39 p.m., almost an hour behind Jessie Holmes.
Life Below Zero posted took to their Facebook page, “It’s official! Join us in wishing Jessie congratulations for his big win.”
The post has received over 4,500 “likes” so far, with 328 comments congratulating Holmes on his impressive win.
For those unfamiliar with the newest Life Below Zero cast member, Jessie Holmes lives near the Tanana River with his team of 44 sled dogs. He is extremely dedicated to his dogs, having bred, raised, and trained them on his own. His bio on National Geographic’s Life Below Zero page states that he left Alabama at the young age of 16. Jessie eventually made it to Alaska by way of hopping freight trains.
Over the 11 years that he’s been living on his own in the bush, Jessie has learned many of the necessary skills he needs from the Alaskan “old-timers,” including carpentry. This vital skill enabled him to build his fish wheel, sleds, dog houses, and cabins. The fish wheel allows Holmes to get about 3,000 salmon during the summer and fall months and is essential to feeding him and his dog team.
Besides racing his dogs, Jessie Holmes considers them an important part of his lifestyle and uses them to help him haul wood, trap, run dog sled tours, and to race in various competitions. Jessie strives to carry on time-honored Alaskan traditions, particularly as a dedicated dog musher and by competing in the various dog races held within the state.
Do you watch Life Below Zero? What do you think of Jessie’s amazing win? Leave your comments, thoughts and congratulations below.
[Image via Life Below Zero/Facebook]