Time is on Ryan Santiago's side. As a musher, it's a great spot to be.

The rookie is racing a group of dogs from three-time champion Mitch Seavey's kennel.

"Because I have young dogs and the point is not to find out what they can do, it's to get them to the end. So we are going to be smart," he said. "We are going to put it in the bank so when we get to a spot and I'll probably have ants in my pants and we need to start moving. Then we can pull the trigger and we have the speed to do it."

It's not often that running a second team yields the opportunity to travel with a champion, but Santiago has an Iditarod winner with him.

Django, a 6-year-old sled dog, is running on Ryan Santiago's team. He was a member of the 2017 winning team with musher Mitch Seavey. (Daniella Rivera/KTVA)

"I have twelve 2-year-olds and 6-year-old whose name is Django and he won the Iditarod in 2017," Santiago said.

Another note on Santiago's approach: the weather. It's always important and to be respected, but not overestimated.

"We've been running the dogs so they get used to that. They succeed in that," he said at the Skwentna checkpoint.

The dogs prefer the colder weather but acclimate extremely well.

"In the summer when we do tours, it's 80 degrees and yeah, they're not running a thousand miles but they are doing quite a bit."

At the time, he and fellow rookie Victoria Hardwick were only two there. Both left the checkpoint around 9 a.m. Monday.

The plan is in tact. He plans to stay with it because it's what best for his team. And the dogs' needs are always the focal point.

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