In 1917, seventeen-year-old Will Stoneman watches his father drown. To save the family farm, he enters a five-hundred-mile sled dog race in Manitoba. He puts himself through harsh training and wins beyond all expectations, attaining the title "Iron Will".
Has the examples of:
- The All-American Boy: Will, a rookie racing on his own with nothing but some fruitcake for food, his dogs and a very old sled, running some absurdly long odds. The Title Drop is the nickname the press gives him as they sell his story to the public.
- Badass Creed:You have one chance. You must run at night when the others have stopped. Run with the moon. Embrace the darkness. Grow hard with the cold. Put pain from your mind. And on the last day, when all will at night... you alone will be friendly with the dark.
- Cut the Safety Rope: How Will's father sacrifices himself at the beginning of the film. It was either him or Will and the dogs being dragged into a frozen lake, and he made the call while Will was begging him not to.
- Determinator: Will. All of the other racers have some experience and enough gear, but he has pretty much nothing other than the clothes on his back, the dogs, the sled and some fruit cake for food, running some absurdly long odds against survival, let alone winning.
- Epic Race: The Iditarod Race has always been epic, but the 1800s version of it even more so.
- Good Parents: Will's parents. His father is the one who taught him how to dog sled. His loss is obviously a great tragedy.
- Heroic Dog: Gus, the leader of Will's sled pulling team.
- The Magnificent: Iron Will. The nickname the press gives him as they catch on to his story and sell it to the audience, because they know underdogs sell papers.
- Scenery Porn: Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy frozen Canada.
- Sled Dogs Through the Snow: The whole plot. It's about a young man undergoing grueling training to win a dog-sled race and take the money home.
- Trauma Button: After losing his dad, Will has no desire to sled through frozen rivers ever again. When some kids offer to show him s shortcut, Will agrees but the moment he sees it involves going through a river he chickens out and decides to use a train bridge to cross... which almost leads to everybody getting run over by a train. At the climax, because it's all or nothing, is when Will finally gets over his fear.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Vaguely inspired by the racer Albert Campbell.