Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Iditarod Start Schedule

It's that time of year again! Are you ready to be a part of the Last Great Race on Earth?

The Schedule
  • Wednesday, February 29th: Mushers fly to Anchorage
  • Thursday, March 1st: Dogs and SPK Team drives to Anchorage, Mushers Meeting 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Mushers Banquet and Bib Draw 5:30 p.m. (Dena'ina Center, Anchorage)
  • Friday, March 2nd: Meet and Greet 6-7 p.m. (Clarion Suites, Anchorage)
  • Saturday, March 3rd: Iditarod Ceremonial Start in downtown Anchorage 10 a.m. (4th Ave & D Street)
  • Sunday, March 4th: Official Iditarod Re-start 2:00 p.m. (Willow Lake, Willow)

You will be able to follow the Iditarod:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Iditarod Vet Checks

Iditarod Vet Paperwork and a peanut butter cookie

Every Iditarod dog is required to have a complete blood count (CBC) and a full chemistry panel. These tests were done two weeks prior to the race. The tests provided an overview of a dog's general health status. In addition, the dogs also had ECGs (electrocardiography). The ECG measured the rate and regularity of their heart beats as well as the size and position of the heart chambers. It could indicate the presence of any damage to the heart.

Dr. Stu Nelson, the Head Iditarod Veterinarian, as well as an additional cardiac specialistic look through the results. Dr. Nelson then calls all Mushers and talks about the results. SP Kennel got their results this week. I have to be honest, it is a bit nerve wracking to wait for the results. But, after talking to Dr. Nelson, the SP Kennel dogs look good!

The next step is to have overall veterinary physical exams for each dog. The Iditarod Veterinarians provide these exams at the Iditarod Headquarters on Wednesday, February 29th. However, we want the SP Kennel dogs to spend the least amount of time possible on the dog truck. So, the SP Kennel dog will miss these exams since they do not come down to Anchorage until Thursday evening. Therefore, we have a friend, dog musher and local Veterinarian - Dr. T. Rose - look through our dogs here at SP Kennel while they run around the garage.

We want to thank Dr. Rose for her time, professionalism, generosity and especially, for the peanut butter cookies! You can't spend a morning looking through Iditarod dogs with out munching on a delicious cookie. Thanks T!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Post-YQ Interview with Allen & Hugh

Here's a fantastic post-YQ interview with Allen and Hugh:

2012 Iditarod Edition of Howler!

It's here! The 2012 Iditarod Edition of "Howler" -- the SP Kennel newsletter! Click the image below to open the PDF file in your web browser, then read it online and/or print it for later reference!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A little down time....

The Yukon Quest is over and the Iditarod is 10 days away. That leaves the mushers and dogs at SP Kennel with a little "time off".

We hope you appreciate The SP Kennel dogs doing what dogs do best:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yukon Quest Gold

What does 4 ounces of Gold look like?

Thank you Joe & Wendy Fellers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pre- Iditarod Blood and EKG Tests

Ryne, Derek and I had 32 dogs at the tests yesterday. Everyone did so well, even the youngsters. These tests are required for all dogs that run in the Iditarod. Aliy and Ryne will get the results back with in the next week or so.

As we were rotating dogs into the Official Iditarod Blood Draw and EKG tests, I had to laugh. Most people have never had an EKG in their lives. And if they are anything like me, it's been years since I had a full blood panel. As I looked at Bullet laying on the table, I realized that she has had one EVERY year of her life!! Very cool!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Black Team arrives home with out their Musher

Quito, Olivia, Boondocks, Chica, Nacho, Scruggs, Scout, Meg, Tatfish, Biscuit, Puppet, Pud and Schmoe are back at their home as of 11 PM tonight. They were greeted by their only team mate who didn't make it to the Canadian side: Scooter as well as their buddy: Ryne.

Ryne gave them all a big welcome meal and Scooter started to HOWL.


Allen remains in Whitehorse until the Awards Banquet on Saturday evening.

Wes and Wendy's Weather Eight (a bit late)

It has been warm and balmy with temperatures well above freezing here in Whitehorse. The dog boxes were so warm that the resting dogs needed to be dropped and hydrated about every hour. Frequently we left the doors open on dog boxes so they could get more ventilation while they rested, and we sat on a bucket and supervised. The dogs are headed home now and should be back in their normal houses late tonight. They spent the last 24hrs eating, drinking, and resting. The difference in just 24hrs is phenomenal; they are peppy and putting on weight as we watch. They will be getting back to temperatures in Two Rivers that range from 0 to 20 degrees above. This is a great temperature for helping them rest well and put weight back on at the same time. By the end of the week Aliy or Ryne will take them out on a slow stretch out run to loosen them up and determine if there is any lingering stiffness or soreness. If all looks good, some of the Quest dogs may be chosen for the Iditarod race in a few weeks time.
Back in Whitehorse, Wendy and I get to spend the weekend with Allen watching the remaining teams come in and waiting for the Musher's Banquet on Saturday. Wendy and I are proud to say we handle for Allen Moore; he is a highly respected and regarded competitor, though this is only his second time running the race.
This Quest has been an amazing event for Wendy and I, and is one of the reasons we decided to spend this year in Alaska. It is one of the few races where a good crew of handlers can make the difference between running a great race, and winning a race. In Dawson, it was a pleasure to assist Aliy and Ray, ensuring that certain things happened as efficiently as possible. Here are some of the things that handlers have to do to ensure a successful second half to the race.
. Set up a campsite for the dogs well ahead of the mushers' arrival. This should be designed in such a way that the handlers can work on the dogs while minimizing the disturbance to them.
· Ensure the musher gets as much food, sleep, and quiet time as possible in the 36hrs.
· Manage and coordinate any media appointments so that they minimize the disturbance to his recovery (special thanks to the reporters covering this race for their sensitivity in working with us on this)
· Wash and dry musher clothing
. Dry out the sled and do necessary repairs.
· Constantly have food soaking and thawing for regular dog feedings
· Treat dogs' feet, rub down shoulders and legs, medicate any dogs based on vets recommendations. Coordinate with vets on ongoing issues
· Periodically walk dogs to loosen them up and reduce stiffness
· Brief musher on how each dog has responded to the 36hrs of food and rest so he can determine which ones will continue with him
· Make sure the sled is packed with everything needed for the 200+ mile run to Pelly's Crossing
· Get latest weather reports so the musher can plan the trip accordingly
· Determine the route back on to the trail and brief the musher so no time is wasted trying to figure it out
· Keep him informed of everything he needs to do prior to his departure and keep him apprised of the time
· Help him determine a race plan for the second half based on the weather conditions, trail conditions, health of the dogs, and what we think competitors might do
· Ensure he has ALL mandatory equipment packed in order to avoid a possible penalty
· After the musher's departure, break camp and ensure that it is immaculate so that the team is not issued with an unnecessary penalty
Wendy and I have really enjoyed the trip. It has enabled us to feel like we are racers without having to be athletes. Bring on theIditarod!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Allen Moore Arrives in Whitehorse


We are so proud of Allen and the Black Team. He left everything he had on the trail! No one can ask for more than that.

Congratulations to Hugh Neff. It means the world to him to win this race.

Safe journey to the teams still on the trail and to those heading home after this amazing race.

Monday, February 13, 2012

On the Trail to Whitehorse

Allen and the Black Team are on their way to Whitehorse and I know I won't be alone wearing out the refresh key tonight. The SP Crew over in Canada are heading to different locations to cheer him along. It will be a long, exciting night.

Over in Alaska, it was Iditaord Food Drop Day. All of the dog food, people food, gear and equipment that Aliy and Ryne will need for their Iditarod runs were due today. Packed in easy to handle bags, mounded onto pallets and shrink wrapped to keep them together, everything will be trucked down to Anchorage where the Iditarod will sort them into checkpoints and send them out onto the trail.

The bags this year where not as heavy as last years. Typical Aliy, there is lots of dog food and gear, a decent amount of people food and hardly anything for Aliy. The dogs are always first in her mind.

So here are the numbers:
Aliy - 1473 lbs
Ryne - 1547 lbs

And who guessed the closest:
"My guess is:1490 for Aliy, 1610 for Ryne" - Edwin Le Doux
Congratulations Edwin!

Ryne and Bob at AirLand

Kaz and Bob at AirLand

Allen Leaves Braeburn On Time For Final Leg of the Yukon Quest 2012

Allen left Braeburn right on time at 4:23 pm PST. He left with 10 healthy dogs and a light sled. He dropped Puppet who had both a sore shoulder and sore wrist. She is doing well and resting in her dog box, next to Schmoe and Pud. In Carmacks, Allen began sorting through his gear and getting rid of weight. In Braeburn, he continued to lighten the load to only the barest of essentials for this last run to the finish line. Given his history as a sprint musher, I have no doubt he knows how to run a light sled to the finish line! Aliy and Ray kept him on schedule of eating, resting, and caring for the dogs. He was well ahead of schedule when he approached the checkout line. He rode up on the sled with several minutes to spare. A large crowd gathered to watch him take off on this leg of the race, including friends and fellow mushers. He was asked to give a speech and said "I'll see ya'll at the finish line,. Somebody may have to carry me off the finish line though." When asked by the media what his race strategy was he answered "Run fast, Long time". As you can see, he still has his sense of humor and is in good spirits. Hugh is taking off at his appointed time, and running with the 9 dogs he has left. Lance will leave a little over three hours later. We'll be leaving Braeburn with a few cinnamon rolls for the road, to start the vigil at the finish line.

Allen Moore in Braeburn YQ2012.m4v

Allen first into Braeburn

Allen crested a hill overlooking the small community of Braeburn just as people were turning their headlamps off. Hint of some sun coming up now. His arrival time is 8:23 which gives him a departure time of 4:23pm. Hugh Neff arrived 13 minutes behind Allen according to my stopwatch. Due to the rounding of minutes, the official time might be a bit different. Allen is feeding and doing doggy care and will come inside for breakfast soon. He indicated that there was some tough overflow which he believed Hugh spent more time dealing with.

More soon.


Sunday, February 12, 2012


As we all watch Allen and the Black Team on their amazing run in the Yukon Quest, every part of the kennel is in motion. Aliy, Ray, Wes and Wendy were at Carmacks during Allen's 4 hour stay. On the Quest, a handlers job is never done. They get to clean up after the team leaves and then worries them to the next checkpoint. We hope they are managing to get a little sleep too!!

Allen pulled the hook at 8:01 PST after a 4 hour rest and just minutes behind Hugh Neff. The Black Team still has 11 dogs and Quito and Olivia are still in lead. They are very focused. Allen is in full race mode now. He left his sled's seat and any spare weight he could behind at Carmacks. This run should be 10 to 12 hours to Braeburn and will be over lots of lakes and most likely overflow. There is a mandatory 8 hour rest in Braeburn before the final push into Whitehorse.

On the completely other side of the kennel's current operations, Ryne, Derek, Kaz (me) and Sammy spent the day finishing off Food Drop Bags for Aliy and Ryne's Iditarod runs. They are due tomorrow morning. While you are biting your nails watching Allen, give us a guess at this year's total weights. One for Aliy's bags and one for Ryne's. I'll let you know tomorrow!

Here are some pictures from the kennel today.

Ryne Packing Her Drop Bags for Takotna

Ryne and Derek Packing Drop Bags

Aliy's Bags Ready to Go!

Ryne's Bags Ready to Go!!

Allen In Carmacks

Allen arrived at 3:58 pm into Carmacks checkpoint to a waiting crowd. He was three minutes behind Hugh Neff. However, Hugh has a 30 minute penalty to take during his Braeburn layover, due to a lost ax during the last run. The dogs ran into the checkpoint looking ready to continue on their way. All the dogs seem to be running smoothly. The vets had a look at a few dogs per Allen's request, just to be sure everything was alright. Allen quickly and efficiently fed the dogs their rest time snacks and bedded them down in the straw. He said the trail was smooth and the warm weather hadn't really effected it. However, he said it is warm running on the sled. It was apparent he had shed a few layers during his run due to his ski poling. As he was coming up off the river into the checkpoint, he reported that six neighborhood pet dogs ran over to the team to check them out. The team didn't even pause but continued on into the checkpoint. The pet dogs got snubbed. Allen is eating and resting, along with the team. Our two dropped dogs, Schmoe and Pud, are doing well also. They have been sleeping in their boxes where it is very warm. They have slept and eaten most of the day for a fast recovery. We'll see Allen and the team again for a mandatory 8 hour layover at Braeburn Lodge. The sweet rolls are supposed to be world famous so we'll look forward to those as we wait for Allen to roll in.

Allen Arrives First In Pelly Crossing Checkpoint

Allen arrived at 3:09AM Yukon time. The dog team looked strong and came into the checkpoint with wagging tails. Comments in the crowd watching were "That's a good looking team after running 700+ miles!" However, Pud was in the bag, not on the line. Allen says that soon after the Stepping Stone hospitality stop, Pud began to limp with a sore paw. Pud has been dropped at Pelly Crossing Checkpoint. He'll be joining Schmoe, who was dropped in Scroggie Creek, and is now riding along with the SP Kennel crew in the dog truck. The rest of the dogs received their snacks, and have healthy appetites. They will enjoy their main meal a bit later on after having some rest in their straw. Allen came into the checkpoint wearing his white wind pants due to the warm weather we've been having along the Quest trail. With highs right around 34-36 F, it has been downright balmy for a Yukon Quest. There is a nice breeze that does keep things cool, and running along the river also helps to lower the temperatures for the dogs. He says the trail is fine, and he hasn't had any difficulties on this particular stretch which included going over King Solomon's Dome and the Black Hills. He is in good spirits, and is happy with the way the team is running. After having a brief meal at the checkpoint, he turned in to get some much needed rest. His tracker spot seems to be working well, so we'll be able to continue following him on the next stretch. He'll now return back to the Yukon River and continue making his way south. We will see him again at the Carmacks checkpoint.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Waiting in Pelly Crossing

The SP Kennel crew left Dawson City this afternoon after cleaning up the dog area and checking out of the hotel. We are now in Pelly Crossing at the checkpoint waiting. The dropped dog-we still don't know who it is--will be flown to Dawson City and brought to Pelly Crossing Checkpoint in another dog truck. Currently, there is no communication from Scroggie Creek, however the plane is supposed to arrive in Dawson at 4:00 pm Yukon time.

We have some incredible pictures from Dawson City to share with you. These particular photos are taken by Jeanne Schnackenberg who sponsors Scooter. She and Yo-lynn Owsley, Boondocks' sponsor, are following the Yukon Quest race from Dawson to Whitehorse. Also following the Yukon Quest, checkpoint to checkpoint, from Start to the Finish, are Dingle's sponsors Art and Alice Van Dorn. Each of them have given us some great photos and video that document Allen's race this year. A big Thank You to our SP Kennel friends for sharing your talent with us. Hopefully we'll be able to continue putting these up from various checkpoints along the way.

Black Team on the Move

Allen and the Black Team are working their way down the longest section of trail between Dawson and Pelly Crossing. He and Lance Mackey are shifting back and forth as they each rest and run their teams. Allen had to drop a dog as he went through Scroggie Creek Dog Drop. We won't know who until the dog is brought to Pelly Crossing and the handlers pick him up.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Allen Moore leaving Dawson City YQ2012.m4v

Wes narrating Allen's departure from Dawson City Checkpoint

Dawson Dog Yard Is Quiet

After a very busy and exciting morning, it’s kind of quiet around the dog tent now. All 13 dogs are gone from their boxes, leaving only remnants of a dog team behind--flat sleeping straw, bits of uneaten food, and the smell of Algyval hanging in the air.

Apparently the warm weather, good food, massages, cuddles from visitors, and sleep did its job. Allen was able to take all 13 dogs! All the dogs were running happily down the campground road, and south on to the Yukon River. The trail out of a comfortable town is always a bit difficult, yet the team took it in stride. There was slight confusion on the edge of town as the Yukon Quest trail takes a "haw" and the local traffic

takes a “haw” and the local traffic takes a “gee”, but Allen and the team with the trail groomers sorted it out. Such is the life of a musher and team in first place!

The rest of the crew is taking a well deserved rest at the Downtown hotel, before breaking camp and packing up for the next checkpoint in Pelly Crossing. Though there are dog drops and local cabins along the way, the team will base out of Pelly Crossing until Allen arrives at the checkpoint.

Allen does have a "repaired" spot tracker so we should be able to continue following him on his way to Whitehorse. Already he is crossing over King Solomon's Dome-a major milestone in this half of the race. It's been exciting so far, and we're sure it will continue to be interesting!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dawson Rest Update

The dogs have finished their third "Thanksgiving" dinner--turkey and Eagle kibble--and are now laying around on their "couches" napping. They have been eating very well. It seems their favorite is the turkey snacks. The only small glitch is we have to look around for a few more bags to keep them happy! Aliy had wanted to feed them every 7 hours to keep them on theirrace schedule. However, the dogs have different ideas. After 5 hours, they are scratching around in the straw eating leftovers from the previous meal. Aliy commented "This is the best eating team I've seen in awhile".

Allen is also on a sleep/eat schedule. He's been napping most of the day in 3 hour increments. After breakfast, he rested for a couple of hours, got up and moved around and chatted. Then went back to sleep for a few more hours. He's now off to a late lunch at one of the local establishments in Dawson, and then to the musher's meeting this evening.
Aliy, Ray and Wes have been working with the dogs all morning. Wes has been on dog tent duty and hanging out in the Arctic Oven tent when he isn't feeding or massaging. Aliy has been busy washing and drying clothing at the hotel, and meeting up with friends and acquaintances who traveled to see the race-in between trips to the dog tent. Ray has been working on drying out the sled and repairs. The local RCMP have opened up their heated garage for the mushers to park their sleds and work on them if repairs are needed. So though it's a "rest" period in the race, it's still a very busy time for everyone involved.

Allen Moore Arrival in Dawson YQ2012

Photos from Allen's Arrival in Dawson

As many of you noticed, Allen's and Lance Mackey's trackers did not update for a few hours during the last leg of the run to Dawson. Those of us waiting in Dawson had no real idea where or how far apart they were. Hugh Neff's tracker was working, and we knew Allen and Lance would be close to him. NO ONE knew who it would be. Nail/glove biting and pacing took place!
Just as the first musher's light blinked in the trees on the edge of the river, a green band of Aurora Borealis blazed across the sky. We could see the team moving fast down the edge of the river under a full moon. However, the headlight wasn't bobbing back and forth--we worried that such a steady light couldn't be Allen since he is ALWAYS poling and pedaling. We waited as the musher drove up the landing and IT WAS ALLEN! He was riding comfortably on the runners with the dogs at a steady trot and tails wagging down into the chute.

Allen had seen a light behind him about an hour or so outside Dawson, however he didn't know who it was. He knew he was being chased and began pushing to the checkpoint. With a dog in
the bag, Schmoe-with a sore wrist, he was moving as fast as possible. He said as he went through a slough, he could see the lights of Dawson, and the musher's light behind him. He realized at that point, that whoever it was could not catch him, unless he took a wrong turn. He stowed the poles, and began focusing on the trail to ensure he didn't get sidetracked. He had noticed the trail had little to no evidence of dogs on it, but figured it was because the trail groomers had been out working on the trails.
Allen said he had no idea just what place he was in the race. As he slid into the checkpoint, he finally got a look at the checker's official list, and there his name was on the list--in first place! Though he was not focused on winning the 4 oz. of gold given to the musher coming into Dawson first, he definitely was excited to see that he had "won the gold" and had come in first to the checkpoint. Allen headed straight to the hotel to get rest after running for 5 days with 4 hours of sleep. He woke to eat a big breakfast of pancakes, easy eggs, and bacon, before heading back for another block of sleep. He is keeping well hydrated with Gatorade, and though stiff after the run, is in good condition and spirits.

The dogs immediately ate their midnight meal at the dog tent, and settled down for a long rest. The Race vets were able to do their dog check immediately on arrival. They declared the dogs
to be in good shape, with no serious injuries that rest, dog care and and food could not fix. They were quite complimentary on the good condition of the dogs. Aliy and handlers tucked in the dogs and massaged their feet while they relaxed. Some woke up and ate a bit of a second meal before laying down for the rest of the night. As Aliy and I walked back to the hotel to catch a nap, the Aurora came out and danced over the mountains in celebration. More updates throughout the day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Allen Moore First to Dawson

Allen just arrived in Dawson in 1st place! He and the dogs will now get a well deserved and needed 36 hour rest. He arrived at 12:34 PST ( 11:34 AST) . More to come from Dawson!

Allen in the Lead

Allen is racing down the Yukon River towards Dawson City and is currently in the lead. He is running about 10 miles ahead of Hugh Neff and it looks like Lance Mackey is still resting at 40 Mile. There is still 35 miles to go for the Black Team to reach Dawson and their 36 hour layover.


Setting up Dawson Dog Camp

The Dog Camp in Dawson is ready!

On the Trail

Allen is resting on the trail on his way towards Dawson. He is still running in 3rd place. Lance and Hugh are resting a bit further down the trail. Luckily Hugh's tracker is working again. They are expected into Dawson this evening.

Here are some pictures of Allen and the Black Team from the Official Quest Site.
For more photos, go to:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Race to Dawson

As expected, Allen arrived in Eagle with the front of the pack. He arrived at 2:40 pm AST about 30 minutes behind Lance Mackey and Hugh Neff. There is a mandatory 4 hour rest stop at the Eagle Checkpoint and Allen stayed just 5 minutes passed that time. Both Lance and Hugh stayed a total of 4 hours 30 minutes. The top 3 mushers then left in the order they arrived at 4:35, 4:37 & 4:45 pm respectively. Allen pulled the hook in 3rd position with all 13 dogs still running in the Black Team.

The trail now leaves the Yukon River, goes up over American Summit and crosses the border into Canada. This section stretches 147 miles into the old Mining town of Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Last year, Allen tackled American Summit during a blizzard. Even in perfect weather this is a difficult part of the race where the teams push hard into the mandatory 36 hour layover in Dawson.

The old mining town of 40 Mile offers great hospitality and a place to get out of the weather should there be a need. It is 99 miles from Eagle. It is a dog drop so we should get information about the teams from there. However, in 2000, Aliy was there with several mushers when a report came in that a fellow musher was missing. They all laughed and woke him up to tell him that he was "lost". Not all information is accurate!

Allen's Spot Tracker is back up and working. Hopefully it stays that way!

The View from Dawson City

The views of the Yukon River in Dawson City were spectacular today.

A view up river - towards Dawson - the "water" on the Yukon River has been put there purposely by the "ice bridge" maintenance crew. They pumped river water out of a hole in the ice and on top of the river ice in the hopes that it will freeze and thicken the current ice depth. Thus, travel over the "bridge" is safe.

A view down river - towards Eagle. The sky was clear off to the west, but cloudy in this photo.