Before Kansas Republican Steve Watkins finishes his seven-way primary race in August, the congressional candidate will spend March racing across nearly 1,000 miles of Alaskan snow.
Watkins, an Army veteran and Topeka native who launched a campaign in Kansas’ 2nd District in November, announced Monday that he will compete in the 2018 Iditarod, the famed dogsled race across Alaska that will take place the first week of March.
This will be the second and final time that Watkins competes in the race.
“The Iditarod is a grueling and beautiful part of the American story,” Watkins said in a release. “There's something very personal about the challenge. So, I race for my personal heroes — veterans and teachers.”
In 2015, Watkins attempted to become the first person to complete both the Iditarod and climb to the top of Mount Everest, but his journey to the top of the world’s tallest mountain was cut short by an earthquake.
His 2015 Iditarod run and survival of the earthquake, which killed more than 8,500 people, were documented in detail by The Washington Post.
Watkins is one of seven GOP candidates running for the seat that will be vacated by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Topeka Republican, when she retires from Congress at the end of the term.
On the Democratic side, the race features former state Rep. Paul Davis, who narrowly lost the 2014 race for Kansas governor to Sam Brownback. Davis has outraised every candidate in the race — taking in more than $740,000 since launching his campaign in August — and he had more than $500,000 cash on hand as of January.
Watkins’ campaign had more than $219,000 cash on hand as of January, but the bulk of that money came from a $175,100 personal loan the candidate made to his campaign. Watkins has received just under $45,000 in contributions since joining the race.