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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Let's go Race!!!!

The Yukon Quest is a fantastic event. All of us here at SP Kennel are excited about the upcoming race. The course starts in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada and travels much of the Yukon River, the surrounding lakes, mountains and ridges - across the Canada/USA border - north to the Yukon River again and then south down through rugged mountains, through our hometown of Two Rivers and to the finish line in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. What an adventure!

The team will be traveling on some of the most historic mushing trails of the North Land. Robert Service wrote great poems capturing the feelings and energy of the land over 100 years ago. (Link to Poems.) Hardy men and hardier sled dogs are the norm in this land. As the team travels through the land and rivers near Dawson, everyone should pay homage to the faithful "Buck" in Jack London's, The Call of the Wild.

The Black Team will literally, be mushing home! How awesome to be able to mush 1,000 miles to your home!

The overall goal for the Black Team is to cover the 1,000 miles in a competitive, yet honest manner. We realize that a Rookie musher with 14 Rookie YQ dogs is at a competitive disadvantage. As many times as Allen looks at a map, reads about the trail or talks to YQ Veterans, he is still a rookie. It is actually, a great position to start the race: relatively little pressure, no knowledge of all the "bad spots on the trail", and an excitement about traveling in unknown northern regions.

The Black Team is a stellar group of dogs. (The roster will be posted on Friday after final Vet Checks and meetings.) It is a young squad: the youngest is 2 1/2 years old and the oldest is 6 1/2. The average age is 4 years old. There are Iditarod veterans and rookies. It will be very exciting to see what these guys can do!

So, the Yukon Quest will be a test of SP Kennel breeding, training and overall fortitude. We sincerely hope for a Top 10 finish, but we will not be too dismayed with any "finish line" outcome. This will be the first time that SP Kennel dogs will race the Yukon Quest and, potentially, the Iditarod in the same season. This is a new undertaking, so we do not have all the details worked out. But, as usual the dogs continue to amaze us. We have bumped up the last two weeks of training to the likes of "pre Iditarod" schedule. Longer miles and a slower pace. We are ready!

The Yukon Quest 300 will be fun. Yes.... FUN! The goal for this entire season has been to race as many SP Kennel dogs as possible. After this race, we will nearly have given everyone a chance to shine! Aliy will have a lot of the "old faithful" on the Red Team. This will be Ryne's first long distance race for SP Kennel and her Red & Black squad is a mixture of youth and veteran.

The Yukon Quest 300 is not a big money winning event. It is simply a way to travel the trail and enjoy the beauty of your dogs, your earth and your self. Our goals are to walk away from the Yukon Quest 300 finish line knowing that we had a solid run and that many of these dogs will now be better conditioned to run the Iditarod.

So.... let's go race!!!

Here's a Robert Service SP Kennel favorite:

The Cremation of Sam Mcgee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee,
where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South
to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold,
but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way
that he'd "sooner live in hell".

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way
over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold
it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze
till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one
to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed
tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead
were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he,
"I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you
won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no;
then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold
till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread
of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair,
you'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed,
so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn;
but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh,
and he raved all day
of his home in Tennessee;

And before nightfall a corpse was all
that was left of Sam McGee.
There wasn't a breath in that land of death,
and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid,
because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say:
"You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you
to cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid,
and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb,
in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight,
while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows --
O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed
to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent
and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad,
but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing,
and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge,
and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice
it was called the "Alice May".
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit,
and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here", said I, with a sudden cry,
"is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor,
and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around,
and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared --
such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal,
and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like
to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled,
and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks,
and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak
went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow
I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about
ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said:
"I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"
. . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm,
in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile,
and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear
you'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee,
it's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.


Israel said...

Hi good morning from Spain.
Some time talking with you asking permission to post on my Web career experiences etc.
As you will see on the left a direct link to your blog.
I would like to bring Europe and our readers around the world race Quest Youkon THROUGH you.
Greetings and good luck.
Israel Gonzalez
Dog Compass
Israel Gonzalez
Compass Dog

Susan said...

Good luck, happy tails, and Godspeed on your journeys. Three teams, two races: what an adventure. Your webmaster will be working overtime!