There is a lot more to racing than you think...
The racing in Balto is something to be considered. For its a crucial factor that helped structure the movie itself.
The movie right away began with the racing of sled dogs. Like any typical race, it consists of more than one team. And as we all saw, Steele cheated and caused what seemed to be a more faster sled team to stumble and loose several precious seconds. So why didn't the team get up and keep running? They could've have a chance to catch up and hopefully beat Steele? Um, no. When it comes to racing, time is extremely valuable. Even two seconds makes a big difference. Unless the team was really fast and well trained, they didn't have much of a chance to catch up.
The next shot of racing that we see is when Steel turns the corner and is headed for the finish line. During a race, the last few meters are what really counts. When running, you should pace yourself and finish with a bang, giving it all you got...no matter how tired or how much pain you are in. That may be the hardest part. As Steele made his way to the finish line, Balto jumped in unexpectedly. This most likely pressure Steele into going faster, a natural reaction when head to head with an opponent during a race. We then see Balto speed up a bit to grasp Rosie's hat in time.
Some time later, we hear the musher in discussion with another man, in which he says "I think he's loosing his edge". Is this true? Some think thats unfair since Steele has been running for quite sometime already. Wouldn't Balto be able to beat him since he was already tired? Not exactly. In running, you have to train endlessly and daily. Unlike most sports, running isnt about skill. You have to be conditioned and in shape, otherwise you won't be as fast and you tire out easily. As the leader, Steele must be in shape and more durable, and I have doubts that Balto trains daily and is in shape. Steele should've been faster than Balto. Plus, sometimes after a few miles into running, your body has adjusted and you don't tire as easily and can edure several miles more. If you pace yourself of course.
So why is Balto faster? Well, some people are gifted with the ability to run. Training daily makes them very fast durable. Balto could have some natural talent. His heritage assists him as well, for wolves may have a tendency to be far faster than dogs. Their body also assists them. As we can see, Balto is far smaller and leaner than Steele. This allows him to carry his body easier, although the lack of muscle may pull him back. Steele has a more muscular, which is naturally developed through practice. For males, muscle is built in the calves, back, and arms. But mostly in the legs, which gives them firm support and the strength to press forward.
Racing comes yet again and the sled team tryouts. The race starts correctly (with a gun) and each dogs bolt into a sprint. The key to racing is to start fast, but not so sprint completely, you would burn out easily and not be able to pace yourself correctly. Not too long after, Balto's talent for running is made clear and we can see that he is fast. But wasn't the race unfair? We see that Balto is kicked aside and into the ice. Balto then pulls on a face of determination and catches up ahead through a different route. What basically did was take a different was which pulled him up ahead a lot faster than if he took the normal course. This does make it faster, but you tire faster if you have to heave your body through obstacles. Especially stairs. For those who haven't run up stairs as a conditioning method, it is extremely painful. Stairs add pressure to your calves and take away oxygen. Balto had to endure a little extra to catch up. This resulted in catching up and winning the race.
Just as a note, I can confirm that this information is legit. I've ran track and cross country for 7 years and I'm the varsity captain. I know just about all there is to racing.