Thursday, March 24, 2011
Aliy Zirkle.......Alex Morris
Quito.............Hank the cowdog
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
With the warm weather and bluebird skies, the whole crew is in for a treat. We'll be sure to post updates, pictures, and videos of their adventure trip!
While Aliy, Allen, and Kaz are busy with the Adventure Trips, I'll be preparing a group of dogs for Dr. Mike Davis' upcoming treadmill study. In preparation for the tests, at least five dogs who are comfortable on the treadmill need to run 400 race-like miles. Beginning next Thursday, I'll take a team of twelve dogs on a 400-mile training run along the Denali Highway with stops at Alpine Creek Lodge, Maclaren Lodge, and Paxson Lodge. Should be fun!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
The Iditarod Awards Banquet was held tonight in Nome. We already knew Allen had won the Sportsmanship Award for saving Karin Hendrickson's life. It was an open & closed nomination. Here is the article telling what happened.
We didn't know Aliy was going to win the Humanitarian Award for Excellent Dog Care. The Veterinarians of the Iditarod vote on the musher who took the best care of her dogs on the race. This is the second time Aliy has been honored with this award.
Here at SP Kennel, there is no greater award or win than taking care of our dogs and being a good sportsman. We are SO proud of both of them.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Doug and Ryne arrived home with the dogs at about 6pm AST. The dogs flew out of Nome last night and Doug and Ryne picked them up in Anchorage. The duo flew out of Nome earlier yesterday. They picked up the dropped dogs in Wasilla this morning and headed north. Now we are just waiting on Aliy and Allen.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Allen arrived in 24th position with 12 dogs at 10:37 pm AST. The whole Moore - Zirkle clan was waiting for Allen to come in.
We will be putting up a bit more about the 2011 Iditarod over the next few days, but this is the end of the official race coverage. Thank you so much for following the race with us.
Congratulations to Aliy and Allen and the Red and Black Teams!!!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Aliy is almost in Safety and keeping a good speed. I hope she can pass Anderson, but we will see. We expect her in at about 1 am to 2 am AST.
Allen is on his way to White Mountain, still having a great race. We expect him in about early afternoon tomorrow.
Aliy is in White Mountain doing her mandatory 8 hour rest. She had one of the fastest times into White Mountain and reports are that she and the team looked GREAT! She will be able to leave at 3:40 pm AST for the last leg into Nome. (Through Safety)
Allen is at Koyuk. He arrived at 7:07 am AST. After switching to the smaller sled, he has picked up speed on the coast.
Doug, Bridgett and Ryne are out in White Mountain to see Aliy. We will see if they will be able to see Allen before heading back to Nome.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Allen is in Shaktoolik. He got there at 6 pm AST. As we heard from Bridgett and Ryne, he is seriously racing now too.
The front runners have arrived in White Mountain. John Baker arrived a little under an hour before Ramey Smyth. The Smyth brothers are known for their speed from Safety to Nome. They have the fastest times ever! An hour is not as large of a lead as I would like if I were Baker!
It is a given now that the Iditarod will have a new champion this year. The top 15 mushers have never won, although several have taken the 2nd position. It should be an interesting next 20 or so hours.
Not only was Allen comfortable in Unalakleet, but the dogs as well! There was hardly any wind this morning, blue skies, and balmy temperatures. Plus the dogs had enough straw to fill a barn!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Bridgett, Scotty and Ryne were there to see Aliy go through. Bridgett said, "Aliy just through UNK with 11 very happy and healthy dogs! She was very upbeat, dogs were the BEST I have ever seen them at mile 700! I know I'm bias, but they really looked incredible! Lunging into their harnesses, Quito in single lead out of the checkpoint onto glare ice like it was nothing!" They are trying to put a video up from Unalakleet.
Allen is about 50 miles out of Unalakleet. He dropped one dog in Kaltag. I would think that he will try to run straight to Unc during the cool of the night, but he will do what's best for the dogs. There are many cabins he can rest in on the old portage trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet.
This is Mickey, Aliy's mom, reporting from Nome, Alaska. Doug and I arrived here last night after successfully delivering SP's 8 dropped dogs to our friend Margie's kennel outside of Anchorage. The dogs were so happy to get out of the dog truck, stretch out, have a big meal and lie out in the afternoon sun. The clear, sunny, cool weather persists.
We had another extraordinary Iditarod experience on Friday night! Doug was again asked to drive 'Big Red', the SP dog truck, to the airport to help collect dropped dogs being flown in from McGrath. We and 2 other trucks arrived at Northern Air Cargo at about 8:30 PM. The dogs had flown in large wooden boxes, each divided into 8 or 10 private compartments, in the hold of a large cargo plane. A huge forklift delivered the loaded boxes to the parking lot where trained Iditarod volunteers individually transferred the dogs to the waiting trucks. By about 10:00 PM we three vehicles were loaded down with 69 dogs and heading to the Hiland Mountain - Meadow Creek State Correctional Center, the local minimum security prison, outside of Anchorage.
This prison has long cooperated with the Iditarod to provide temporary care for dropped racing dogs. Since the dogs had arrived in Anchorage so late and still had to be reexamined by the vet staff the decision was made to do the exams at the prison and let the dogs spend the night. Owner representatives could collect the dogs the next day at the prison.
One of the work areas at the prison had been completely transformed into a dog care facility. It was aptly named 'Iditarod Dog Outpost'. When we arrived about 10 prisoners were on hand to unload the dogs, secure them on beds of straw under a shed roof, feed them, clean up after them and begin the process of identifying their needs. Each dog's electronic ID chip was read and compared with the report that came from the trail vets. While the vets began the arduous task of examining 69 dogs, the prisoners continued the cleaning routine, covered each animal with a fleece blanket and delivered lots of TLC.
It was a long and nippy night for all involved. We waited around until our 5 dogs were examined and released. It was close to 1:30 AM by the time we left. The prisoners had just left the area to go to bed, the vets were finishing off their paperwork, the volunteers were ready to truck back to Anchorage and the dogs were secure, well fed and warm. We at SP Kennel want to give a special thanks to the prisoners and prison staff who enthusiastically support the Iditarod dog care program. This is another example of the Iditarod's cooperative strategies designed for the well being of our canine athletes and the various communities involved in the race.
Iditarod Drop Dogs' Home Away from Home
Doug & Dingle at Prison
Aliy is about 30 miles out of Unalakleet, slow and steady. She still has all 11 dogs. Bridgett and Scotty are out in Unalakleet waiting for her to get there. Should get some good information later this evening.
John Baker has made his move. He is about 25 miles ahead of the rest of the pack in Unalakleet and on trails very much like home. If he continues to pull ahead, there will be a party in every village up and down the coast.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Ryne, Mickey and Doug are all making there way to Nome. Ryne, after finishing her race at 2 am this morning, is currently at the airport in Fairbanks. Mickey and Doug, after spending the day helping with dropped dogs, are at the airport in Anchorage. Bridgett and Scotty are heading out to Unalakleet this afternoon from their home in Nome. SP Kennel is moving and shaking.
Aliy and the red team are running with 11 dogs. She has dropped Bonita, Snickers, Tug, Rose and Butterscotch. Allen and the black team have dropped Chica, Oddball and Dingle. They are all eating well and very comfortable at a friend's kennel in Knik.
Allen is through Grayling with all 13 dogs and on his was to Eagle Island. He talked to Bridgett from Anvik twice this morning. I talked to her this afternoon. She had tried to check in earlier, but the Hospital in Nome has been very busy today. She has been saving lives!
Bridgett reported that Allen sounded wonderful, excited and fresh. She joked that he sounded better than he did at the start. He kept saying over and over. "I'm the slowest team on the trail." We know that's not true, but the heat of the day has been effecting his team. He is running much smoother and fasted at night. He hasn't stopped racing though. He kept asking where people were and whether they had done their 8 hour rest yet. Always ready to go!
The trail is very hard and set up, but snow is melting during the heat of the day. He did run into 2 ft of overflow going into Iditarod. He had to stand on the seat on his sled to keep from getting wet. Cha Cha, who usually hates overflow, charged right in and dragged the team through. Cha Cha and JJ have been in the lead for the last 100 plus miles. Mother and son, rocking the lead! There is a bit of a breeze on the river right now, so maybe it is cooling the dogs off a bit.
Allen's biggest challenge right now is not the trail or the heat though. It's Scruggs. Every time he stops the team, even if it is just for a minute, Scruggs is taking off his booties. He takes them off. Allen puts them back on. Scruggs takes them off. Allen puts them back on. Maybe Scruggs thinks it a game!
The Iditarod Dog Drop coordinator, and several of her volunteers, asked Doug to help pick up a load of dogs that were being flown to Anchorage from McGrath. The SP Kennel Ford F-350, 20 box, diesel dog truck was the main reason Doug was so popular. Nevertheless, he was eager to help with these race logistics.
At about 7:30 PM, Doug and I jumped in the SP truck and met 2 other dog trucks and a gaggle of volunteers at the cargo facility of Penair. It was pretty much dark by the time a Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft taxied to the ramp behind a security gate. This airplane is a single engine turboprop built for short hauls of both cargo and passengers. It typically operates with a single crew and can be configured to seat 9 to 12 passengers. Tonight the aircraft interior was a single cargo hold, probably about 9' by 15', lined with tarps, kraft paper and old carpeting.
As the pilot secured the aircraft we gathered the 3 dog trucks near the aft, starboard door. All volunteers gathered tightly around the plane exit. We were there to grab any bolting dropped dogs.
The pilot opened the door from inside the aircraft. The sight was amazing!! Forty-two dogs filled the cargo hold, like a heard of fuzzy headed cattle. They stared out at us perked up their ears and wagged their tails. Some started to whine or talk. They were anticipating ear scratches and belly rubs.
The dogs on this flight were each secured to some portion of the plane interior by a 12" to 16" wire neckline. They had flown in close quarters for about 45 minutes to get here from McGrath. The pilot methodically unclipped each dog and passed him/her out the door to a waiting volunteer who deposited the animal into a private dog box in one of the trucks. The dogs were calm and cooperative but pretty eager to disembark. It took us about 20 minutes to get them all settled in the vehicles. I was amazed to notice only 2 piles of poop or vomit on the plane floor. The pilot simply rolled up the paper, disposed of the trash and was ready for the next run today.
Thirteen of the dogs on the plane were Mitch Seavey's withdrawn team. They went right back to their kennel. The other 29 were transported back to the Millenium Hotel where they were fed, walked and examined by veterinarians before they were released to go home. Two SP dogs, Rose and Tug, traveled on that plane. Tug still has a bit of a sore shoulder and Rose's foot is tender. They are eating, drinking and sleeping. In general they tolerated the plane ride well.
And guess what??? Doug has been recruited again tonight. He and that F-350 did a good job. Seventy dogs are expected in from McGrath. I'll probably have another story tomorrow.
Tug and Doug at Clarion
Years ago I asked a pilot what he did if the dogs started fighting on a flight. He said, "Dogs don't fight at Zero G's." That say's it all! - Kaz
Friday, March 11, 2011
If I were to guess, I would say that she will rest on the trail to Eagle Island and go through E.I. check point. Eagle Island is a set of tents and pits carved out of the snow and ice in the middle of the Yukon River. There is not, and has never been a town or camp at this spot. There are few amenities there that would entice a musher to stay.
Allen is currently doing his 8 hour mandatory rest at Shageluk. He arrived there at 3:50 pm, so he will be back on the trail at 11:50 pm. He is having a wonderful race!
There are also times during the race when it is easier and safer to work together with another musher, breaking trail for instance. One team will take the lead and then the other team will switch out for the lead, rotating back and forth. It keeps both teams from getting exhausted. At any given time, mushers will be working together. This breeds a camaraderie unequalled in any other sport.
The Cafe at the Takotna Community Center.
Groups of mushers ate piles of food while they discussed trail conditions, laughed at mishaps and joked with each other. Most of them were goofy from lack of sleep. A big meal, a few laughs and they were off to the bunkhouse to snooze.
Here Aliy and Dee Dee Jonrowe share a sleepy smile.
Aliy & Dee Dee in Takotna
Allen is having an excellent run. He left Iditarod this morning at 6:49 am with all 13 dogs.
The kennel is full of action right now. Doug and Mickey helped move around 52 dogs in Anchorage last night. A large group came back from McGrath and needed to be moved to the Millenium so the vet staff could examine them. Rose and Tug arrived back in Anchorage with this group.
Rose & Doug in Anchorage
Ryne and the dogs at the kennel are getting ready for the Chatinika 100. The race begins this after noon and run right down the trail next to the kennel. Fun!! She should finish about 4 am.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
As I said earlier today, Mickey brought a photo card back with her from McGrath. This is the first footage from the 2011 Aliy Cam. Enjoy.
Waiting for my delayed flight from McGrath to Anchorage gave me an opportunity to think. My time in McGrath, Nikolai and Takotna is my first experience in real bush Alaska. McGrath is the area hub and, as I explained earlier, has about 350 residents. Nikolai, about 25 minutes east in a 6 seat air taxi, is a native village of about 70 full time residents. The plowed airstrip, where we landed on skis, is a short walk to the village center, anchored by a modern school building. Here the mushers were treated to home made food and rested on wrestling mats in the gym or in closets and classrooms behind closed doors. I was amazed to see some mushers crashed about 20 feet from where everyone ate spaghetti, obviously tired enough to block out noises. Some mushers slept in the sun with their dogs.
A few hundred feet toward the river from the school is the checkpoint. It is a 12 x 12 pole tent with buckets and cut logs strewn about for seats. It overlooks the Iditarod Trail winding along the river. A plowed field on the bank provides a broad and flat place for the dog teams to rest. When I arrived there were about 15 teams basking in the sun and many of Takotna's citizens working checkpoint duties. When a team appears on the river, the checkers and other volunteers form a welcoming committee on the bank.
This was filed by Mickey this morning as she waited for her plane back to Anchorage.
What gracious, hardworking folks! When they discovered I was Aliy's mom, I was treated like royalty. I got food, use of a school computer and an offer to spend the night. A young man named Damien ran the checkpoint diligently while I was there. It appeared to me that the village loves their role of checkpoint. And the mushers are so grateful for the hospitality and a chance to rest.
Normal life activities in the bush are very different than many of our 'lower 48' lives. The family car is a snowmobile, many times with a hauling sled attached. Food, fuel and supplies are flown in by small plane. Water is often from a hole in the 4 foot thick river ice, hauled home by snowmobile. In a few weeks families begin serious ice fishing to supplement the larder.
I know that one checkpoint is voted 'checkpoint of the year' by the mushers after each Iditarod. If all the checkpoint villages are as gracious as Nikolai, it will be so difficult to choose the best!!
"So, I talked to dad at 0300. He sounded refreshed, but still a little tired. He said it was hard to get to a phone because everyone was trying to use it and he or Aliy didn't want to wait to call when they could be sleeping. He spoke of Aliy's team. He said they had just left and were VERY peppy! Even barking! That's huge for our team! He was not sure as to her plan for running over to Iditarod. He said that her team was eating amazingly. All of them! He also said that she was dropping Rose in Tak for a sore swollen shoulder. The swelling would not go down until she quit running. Her other "question mark" was Tug. She was going to leave with her and see if she could work through her issues and if not, she would drop her in Ophir. No real injury to note, just something going on for the last 100 miles that Aliy can't pinpoint. And as I write this I see she dropped a dog in Ophir-so I'm sure it was her. Dad said, after those two dogs, she has a really rock solid core! So we shall see. If you want my guess I believe she will stop at Don's cabin, halfway, and then go onto Iditarod. But if she is going to start pushing a little, she will do it in one! Those that are in it to win it, will more than likely run this section in one run. I hope her team is able. If not, they will have more rest and she can "save" that push until the river or coast.
Aliy, Biscuit & Willie in Takotna
He was very pleased. Strong, steady and slow. Those were the words he repetitively used to describe them. I asked him if he had any difficulties up to this point and he said no....The steps were fine, gorge no problem, burn-ok. But then again, let's remember what he just went through 3 weeks ago! Anything will be "easy" compared to that! He said the camera crew was just setting up as he went through the steps. He reported the weather as, "exceptionally good for the mushers, but a little too warm during the day for the dogs." He said he hasn't been traveling with anyone at this time and he's kind of flip flopping around. Ok now on to dogs. His team is eating "pretty well"! The only one not eating is Stormy. She's not even eating many snacks, but he thinks that maybe after the 24 she might get her appetite back. Leaders for him thus far, JJ the whole way and Dingle and Stormy. He is taking Dingle out of lead because he has sore wrists and is going to give him a break. Spicy has had a tricept for most of the way that he keeps messaging and she is working out of it each time. Those were his only two "worries". He said Ranger is eating everything! I asked who his all stars were,......can you guess.......
Cha, Bullet, and JJ! He said he might put Cha in lead on the next run. I asked how she was and he said great, her normal self, no problems. His plan is to do the run to Iditarod in 2 runs, camp mid-day. He was going to take a short nap and then get ready to go."
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Images from the Trail » The Story of The Last Great Race in Pictures
I just had a conversation with musher Justin Savidis. He told the group surrounding him at our table about the experience of hallucinations on the trail. As he tried to stay alert on the trail his dogs transformed into different colors and shapes. Then he saw buildings and trucks along the trail. A true 1960's experience. He knew that wasn't real but had tough time shaking the visions. At this point Justin has had about 3 hours sleep during the race. We just watched him stumble into the bunkhouse. Sleep well.
Aliy appeared off the river first as a bobbing headlamp. The light slowly turned into a peppy dog team pulling a sled. The dogs obviously loved the colder temps.
Aliy simply stopped to check in, say hello to the Cox men who run the checkpoint, give me a kiss and hug, and head back onto the trail. She sported a big smile and was focused on getting to Takotna, about 20 miles down the trail.
I didn't see Allen come through McGrath but I am on my way to Takotna now. There I plan to catch up with both our mushers, doing their 24s.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Aliy Arriving Nikolai
Aliy Changing Her Runner Plastics in Nikolai
Allen Arriving At Nikolai
My plane was full of Iditarod volunteers and spectators. The Iditarod Race Marshall and several members of the Board of Directors were aboard. The McGrath checkpoint Is just about ready for the first mushers to arrive, probably this afternoon or evening.
I'm off to catch the air taxi to Nikolai. Hoping to see both Aliy and Allen there. Stay tuned for news from the trail.
Allen is out of Rohn with 15 dogs as well. He is currently about 45 miles outside of Nikolai.
Aliy and Allen and the dogs have been featured in many of the Iditarod Insider videos as well as many articles. Here are some links to some of the articles and photos.
In just her first season of racing, little Boondocks has been making a name for herself by racing in the Sheep Mountain, Copper Basin, Yukon Quest, and now Iditarod…and she’s only two years old! However, she’s not only receiving human recognition, but she has canine fans as well. Kotzee from Kansas has decided to sponsor Boondocks’ racing season. Boondocks wishes she could see Kotzee at the Iditarod start but thinks that Kotzee’s person Yo-Lynn will be a good replacement!
Thanks to Kotzee from Kansas for sponsoring Boondocks’ racing season!
SP Kennel dog sponsorship is one of our most popular programs. Our dog sponsors are a big part of the SP K team. If you'd like more information about the program, check out How to be a Dog Sponsor.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Allen is out of Rainy Pass with 15 dogs. He had to drop Chica and she is already back with our handling crew in Anchorage. Like Aliy, he is running to his schedule and doing very well.
Mickey will be out in Nikolai and McGrath tomorrow and we should get some good updates on the dogs and mushers. These photos are of Aliy going through Yentna yesterday. They are by Phillip Walters.
By Phillip Walters
Chica had a wrist injury on the Yukon Quest. It had almost completely healed but it looks like she hit a hole and injured it again. When they picked her up, Chica has a slightly swollen left wrist. All her vital signs are normal and her appetite is good. She will remain on anti inflammatory meds for a few days.
Doug picks up Chica from the Dog Drop volunteers behind the Millenium Hotel in Anchorage. Jennifer, Chica, Kathleen and Doug.
The Anchorage Dog Drop vets and volunteers are a dedicated crew. SP Kennel thanks them all for putting the health of our racing dogs first.
There have been several articles and interviews that Aliy and Allen did before the start. Here are a few to look over.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Interior Alaska sends 16 mushers to the Iditarod
Mushers Looking Forward to Scenery, Time With the Dogs
Racers Discuss the Challenges of the Trail