SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Iditarod 2010: Update From Aliy In Ruby

Bridgett just called and relayed the following from her phone call with Aliy in Ruby:

Dogs -- Nacho was dropped in Ophir. Quito and Spot were dropped in Cripple. All were due to "triceps" which is shorthand in the mushing world for "sore front legs." Considering how hard the trail has been, this is entirely "expectable" and the dogs can be very proud of how well then have done.

One current "standout" is Bullet, who Aliy has been using in lead to "pull through" checkpoints when dogs typically want to take a break. You know how we feel about Bullet the wonder dog, and this is an example of how she will do absolutely anything Aliy asks of her… Including run past what must look like very comfy piles of straw in checkpoints!

Cha is still "the boss" out there and looking great. Her co-leader Bullet is a "specialist" who helps her out from time to time. All of the other dogs are in good shape, eating and sleeping well as they should and must. It was Aliy's goal to have "double digit dogs" heading out of Ruby, so the team is in good shape according to plan.

Trail -- We know that the trail has been very hard and Aliy confirmed that it has been one of the hardest she's ever encountered. In the "good and bad" category, the temperatures have plummeted to as low as -50 degrees. That's "bad" because it makes camping out more difficult and uncomfortable. That's "good" because it is what our dogs (and mushers) are used to, and probably better acclimated to than many others.

The Teams are well equipped with jackets and blankets for the dogs. You can be sure that Aliy is passing out plenty of those snacks we cut up and sent out on the Trail, especially all those turkey skins the dogs love so much when it is cold. Aliy has plenty of great gear and added the "comfort" of her "bag dog" Homebrew in her sleeping bag last night.

Human -- Aliy is in great shape, eating and sleeping well whenever she has the chance. She has enjoyed being in the area of her old stomping grounds and is very happy to be heading down the Yukon. She is also looking forward to heading to the coast, one of her favorite runs anywhere in Alaska. According to Bridgett, Aliy is as focused, upbeat and positive as she has ever been.

Strategy -- Here's what I can tell you: The run down the Yukon is long, flat and boring, much like driving on an interstate highway. It also comes at a time when the dogs' initial energy has been used up. Now we will get to see the benefits of training, condition -- and above all -- the heart and soul of the dogs. To deal with this, different teams employ very different strategies, including fewer longer/slower runs or more shorter/faster runs.

These strategies will remain in place not only down the Yukon to Kaltag, but across to the coast in Unalakleet. For those of you who are watching the GPS and leader board, good luck trying to figure it out!


beebee said...

Just in case your browser is doing what mine did, I was following the GPS - kept it up continually. The musher location totally did not match the leader board. I closed the GPS tracking, reopened it and discovered that King was in lead, not someone else as the tracker had shown. It was totally screwed up but is accurate now.

Aunty Em said...

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing information along the way. I started paying attention to the Iditarod back in 2008, toward the end of the race when Lance Mackey won by pretending to sleep and then sneaking out ahead of Jeff King. After that, I started reading online to find out more about the Iditarod and came across your site.

Last year I followed more closely, and was (and still am) captivated by the story of Happy.

This year I discovered the GPS updates and am quickly becoming addicted to sitting and staring at the map, waiting for everyone's information to refresh, rather than working.

More than anything, reading your blog has increased my appreciation of what's involved in this sport. As I can, I'm going back and reading posts from the past and, of course, watching all the videos.

You have produced an entertaining AND educational blog, and for that I thank you.

I have to get back to work now, but when I return to this site, I'll be sending a little something via PayPal to thank you for all you do. I know it's a drop in the bucket---won't even bootie the whole team once---but hopefully enough small donations will add up to something.

Lisa said...

Wait a minute - ChaCha and Bullet are her standout superstars but somehow Homey ends up with the privilege of being "bag dog"?!?

I'm kidding - I'm sure Aliy chose wisely. Homey is probably bigger and throws off more heat, or maybe he doesn't snore. Bullet's timidness probably makes her less of a cuddle pup - and Cha being the consummate professional probably thinks it's her duty to be on the straw at the FRONT of the team.

Thank you Bridgett and Mac for keeping us updated with these "on-the-trail" dispatches. They're awesome! Can't wait to see how it all plays out at the end.

Macgellan said...

Aunty Em -- So glad you're addicted... and we're happy to have helped round out your understanding, etc... Thanks also for whatever you send in... We appreciate all support!

Lisa -- Actually, Homey got picked because he does not do as well in the cold as the other dogs... As you probably know, dogs have the ability to do "effective shivering" which warms them up without "disturbing" them too much... For some reason, Homey doesn't do this as well... So, that's why Aliy picked him as her bag dog... It's all part of being "dog first"...

Dustyllr said...

Good ole Bullet! I couldn't imagine her being anything but reliable and steady!

I am also an Iditarod Addict. I keep telling myself I will stop watching after the next update and then 3 hours later I'm exhausted, still watching, and feeling guilty for getting absolutely nothing else accomplished!

Can't wait to hear more stories from the trail!

If there was a people's choice award, I am certain SPK would earn it! I've read so many nice things about the kennel the past few days--I agree with all of them!

kellross1 said...

Great update! I love reading all the details! I have been at the computer allday watching and reading it all...I took vacation today and Monday so I can "watch" from home! This weekend will be great to see all the changes that will take place...I'm proud of the 2 of them making it through as the trail seems tough this year...I'm proud I work for the company that feeds their happy dogs those thousands of calories they need everyday! Go Eagle Pack!!!!
Look forward to your weekend updates!

Libby the Lab said...

That for all the updates. Any idea what checkpoints Dr. Mike has been at or will be at??

Anonymous said...

Indigo is spending 'Iditarod Week' at her Aunty's in Wellington. She has infected them all with Iditarod fever...and even the weather is being Iditarod-y for her, with a storm and power cut last night! I know she'll be disappointed that her Quito has been dropped, but Indigo also knows that Ms Zirkle always puts the dogs first. We know that Quito did her best because, as Mr Moore would say, "there ain't no quit in Quito!" What a fantastic dog!
from Chloe and Indigo's Mum

AussieAlaskan said...

Thanks to this site for the coverage - I really enjoy following Aliy and the dogs all year - one day...Good luck, Aliy, and have fun with your dogs!

Mike Frerichs said...

Great report. Go Aliy!

Anonymous said...

Have there been any issues with the dropped food bags? (Spoiled snacks from being thawed in Anchorage)