Friday, February 27, 2015

YQ: Black Team Wrap-Up

In a final look back at the Quest, Aliy interviewed Allen about his team the other day. I've transcribed the conversation… there was a lot of laughter and a few out-takes but here's the run-down of each of Allen's team mates.

Mr Moore, can you please tell us about the dogs on your team, perhaps starting from the youngest to the oldest. The youngest dogs on your team were Isabelle/Izzy, Clyde and Outlaw. They’re all three years old. Tell us about them.

Well, being three years old there were definitely the peppiest.


Peppiest. They had pep for most of the race. It’s exciting to see that they were fantastic. Couldn’t ask for anything more.

Izzy – how’d she do?

Izzy was in swing for most of the time


Why? Because she was always pulling, and we definitely want the ones that pull the most closer to the front, or you get an accordion effect and we don’t want that.


She was always up there, peppy and ready to go.

She had a good attitude all of the time?

A good attitude, ate well, climbed well, slept well… all of the above.

Alright, how ‘bout the brothers Outlaw and Clyde?

Outlaw and Clyde… well Clyde, I guess, first of all, …

I know you had him in back because he was very excited about Quito being in heat?

He was. We had to do a little arrangement because Quito was in lead so all the boys that were not neutered had to be way back, especially him, so I put him in wheel. It may have energized him a little bit – it may have energized her too. But anyway, he has always been the best eater and usually that correlates to having the most energy. He’s only three years old and this is his fourth 1000 mile race so you can’t beat that.

Did he run anywhere else in the team?

The last run I moved him up a little bit because he, again, ate well and pulled well so he was moved up, but I still had to keep him so far behind Quito.

How about Outlaw?

It was a little bit tougher on Outlaw because, although it was his second 1000 mile race, it was his first really competitive 1000 mile race. He did well until he started to get a little dehydrated so he wasn’t on his A-game anymore. His bicep was tender coming into the last checkpoint so I decided to leave him there.

Was he barking at the start?

He was, he was barking going up those hills, several dogs were. I was excited to see the performance that he put out.

The next dog to talk about, who is a four year old, is Chemo.


So how’d that little guy do for ya?

Chemo was mighty steady and that’s why we had him in there. We had the option of taking a couple different dogs other than him but we knew he had good weight, he’s always steady, he eats pretty well and he did exactly what we wanted him to do.

Who’d you run him with most of the time?


And they were a good combination together?

They were, they worked very well together, both similar in style of running so it worked out well.

Chemo has been in lead some times during the year but you chose not to put him up there?

I did choose not to, when you have something working at the moment you stick with it – that’s my motto – so I stuck with it. So he never did have to go in lead. If he’d have still been in my team at the end of the race I probably would have put him up there but he was favoring a couple of sore feet coming into the last checkpoint so I decided to leave him there.

Now, the five year olds on the team. That’s a group of siblings and one oddball. The oddball is Mac and the siblings are Scooter, Sissy and Schmoe. So how’d big Mac do for ya?

Big Mac, he’s another steady dog and there’s definitely no-one who pulls any harder than he does. Matter of fact, when he had to go to the bathroom he could stop just about the whole team. He was in the middle of the team so usually there would be six or seven dogs that he could stop that were in front of him. So it’s good and bad that he has so much strength, and that’s the bad side.

He’s known for screaming and getting excited now and then, did he do that at all during this race?

He did, there were a couple occasions when cars would pass when we were close to roads and I don’t know why that gets him excited but all of a sudden he’ll let out a scream that you’ll think someone just hurt themselves. But it does get all the other dogs excited and got me kinda excited too.

Now, I saw you kinda had an interesting combination there, you ran Mac with Waylon (right). Was there any reason behind that?

Yeah, it’s just funny looking. Last year I ran him and Boondocks which is the largest and smallest dog in the kennel and Waylon’s not far from it so it’s pretty comical that Waylon can run underneath his legs and he doesn’t even know it.

Alright, how bout the siblings. Sissy, let’s start with her, then Scooter and Schmoe.

Sissy is a pretty perky gal. With floppy ears going, she did awesome. Her biggest fault is her pooping. She tries to hold back the whole team but she just doesn’t weigh enough. But she was always driving and definitely a catalyst to our success.

Wow, a catalyst to our success?


Alright, come up with something for Scooter that tops that!


Scooter – I just like saying Scooter! I had Scooter up close to the front coz she was pulling really well. She’s ways a screamer, an excitable young gal that whenever you stop she goes nuts ready to go again. You’ve gotta have a few cheerleaders in the bunch and she was definitely a cheerleader.

She finished the race however she got a bit dehydrated at the end, like some of the others, and was not 100% so she didn’t pull as hard as she did before, but she did excellent overall.

Alright – Schmoe-Dawg?

Schmoe-Dawg – he was probably the strongest dog I had in my whole team.

The whole team? Is he your MVD?

Quite possibly – just because we had Quito in single lead leaving the last checkpoint even and I needed another dog up there that could kinda pull it’s weight in lead and I said “why not him?” because he was in swing at the time. I put him up there and he was always tight, even more tight than Quito a lot of times. I just had to put up with his rambunctiousness, meaning he liked to pee on every tree he sees – and we did see a tree or two – but other than that he did very well. So, I was very proud of him.

Willie and Waylon?

Willie and Waylon, the honkey-tonk litter. Willie (right) was in wheel and he’s in wheel because he knows how to run that position pretty well. He’ll go under the line if it’s six inches off the ground.

And that was challenging with all that ice I bet!

Very challenging, we went over 30 miles of jumble ice and he had to go under the line, because if you go over it you’re tangled automatically. So he could get under the line on both sides and straighten the team out. He was always a puller also, he was never not pulling, never a problem. You just kinda forget about him sometimes because he’s always there. No trouble.

Now, his brother Waylon. It seemed like you had a lot of clothing on him at 40 or 50 below…

Waylon looks like he’s just stripped down naked when he’s running. It’s just hard not to put something on him, especially when we started the race at 40 below, we couldn’t put enough on him. And he carried that armor just about the whole race. You could barely see the dog through all the clothes, it looked kinda silly but he got through it and he didn’t lose too much weight. He finished strong.

Alright – Scout?

Scouters started out the race in lead and led for quite a while, he was loping the whole way up until probably 700 miles into the race where he started to feel less than 100%. I had to move him back further and further because he lost energy because he was a bit dehydrated. At Circle I had to drop him, I hated to and I knew if he had a day to get over it and he’d be fine but I didn’t have a day so I had to drop him. But he’s an excellent dog.

Scout was pretty stinkin’ important for a long time, was he not?

He was, very important. He was the one who kept the pace, kept Quito going. He wasn’t worried about anything except what I wanted to be done. You’ve got to have someone that will listen to you and follow direction and you know they’re going to do what you want.

Then the three siblings. Nacho, Chica and Quito.

Wow the eight year olds. Wow, there’s a lot you could say about them.


It’s hard to individualize them because they’re all about the same. They’re probably the best dogs we’ve ever had. Nacho himself, we have a lot of pups out of him and for good reason because he’s always been at the top of his game. Even at eight years old he’s still a puller.

He sure was happy at the finish line.

He was, he’s always a happy dog, happy pointy eared dog who likes to run. As does his siblings.

Then you’ve got Chica and Quito. Chica is an awesome dog! Quito lead the whole race, as she has done for numerous years and the reason behind our numerous wins and seconds places. The one thing we have to come up with is another Quito. Without Quito we would be a normal, average team and she makes a normal average team become a great team.

The Spanish litter – that’s what they all are actually – they make a normal team become a great team.

All photos by Mary-Beth Schreck

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ID: Blood Draw, ECG and Vet Checks

Yesterday was a big day for SP Kennel. We took 37 potential Iditarod dogs to Fairbanks to have their ECGs (electro-cardiogram) and blood taken for analysis by the Iditarod veterinarian team. We then took them for their physical veterinarian checks.

Every dog running the Iditarod must pass these rigorous checks before they are declared fit to start the race. The ECGs are read by a cardiologist to look for any anomalies in their heart. The blood tests are scrutinised by the Iditarod veterinarian team who run a blood count (CBC) and a chemistry panel to check for liver and kidney function. The team looks for any inconsistencies that could compromise the dog's ability to run the race.

Clyde hams it up for the camera with Jan; Mismo with Samantha and Sabrina

This year the team in Fairbanks was Tabitha Jones (AK), Shannan Hunter (WA), Jan Bullock (MT), Sabrina Pennington (WA) and Samantha Freeborn (AK) and took great care with our team mates. There were the old pros like Nacho and Willie who have been there many times before but then there were dogs like Chipper and Commando who were there for the first time. Thanks gals for being so patient and kind with our team!

Outlaw has a new girlfriend in Samantha; Scooter getting her ECG from Tabitha and Shannan while Moira looks on

We then visited Dr T Rose, our kennel vet, for the thorough physical exam which they all passed with flying colors - they're looking fitter than ever!

Dr TRose checks out Izzy while Beemer patiently waits his turn; the Vet Check form

I asked some of the team about what they were doing and why:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Verizon Meet and Greet in Anchorage

Are you in Anchorage this weekend? Come to the Tikahtnu Commons Verizon Wireless store this Saturday from 2-4pm to meet Aliy, Allen and Beemer.

At the same time you can talk to the experts in-store to check out what Verizon Wireless has to offer.

Come and have your picture taken with the team and hear some great stories. You could even win some great prizes! We look forward to seeing you there!

Edit: we're still working on details for Iditarod Meet and Greet on March 6th, we'll let you know asap.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

YQ: Prizegiving and Banquet

Last night a bunch of us attended the Yukon Quest Finisher's Banquet and Prizegiving in Fairbanks.

The evening was full of fun as we heard stories and thank yous from each musher. We heard so many great stories of the hospitality of not only the checkpoints, but the remote stops such as Scroggie Creek, Stepping Stone, Slaven's Roadhouse, Forty Mile and Trout Creek cabin.

We heard tales of Eagle Summit and Rosebud, of fifty below and jumble ice, of camaraderie and sportsmanship on the trail and most of all, of phenomenal dogs. For every musher it all came back to their dogs.

For his second place finish Allen won this beautiful knife from Alaska Rod's.

Congratulations to all the Special Award winners - you can find a list here!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

YQ: Black Team Journey

Follow Allen and the Black Team on their Yukon Quest journey from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.

What a team!

Friday, February 20, 2015

YQ: Meet The Musher

This evening was the Meet the Musher event at the Alpine Lodge in Fairbanks.

A steady flow of fans, family and supporters got the mushers to autograph posters, T-shirts and postcards and got photos a-plenty.

It's a great event for the public to meet some of their favorites - and it's the first time some of the mushers get to talk to each other since the start nearly two weeks ago.

Ed Hopkins (3rd), Brent Sass (1st) and Allen (2nd) were sitting next to each other so I asked for a photo. This is what I got!

I got a serious one also...

Coal Wins Fan Club Draw #11

Congratulations to Marilyn Cozzens from New Mexico and COAL for winning this week's Dog Fan Club draw. Marilyn is a fan of many of our dogs, as well as dog sponsor for Tinder.

Marilyn wins a Yukon Quest poster and patch and some other goodies.

Coal, one of the fire litter, is quite the 'big dog' now. He lives next to his brothers Tinder and Hotshot and they are in the rowdy end of the dog yard!

Coal ran the Two Rivers 50 at the start of the season with Aliy and many of his siblings. We're looking forward to watching him develop into a big, strong, SP Kennel team dog!

Thanks to all our Dog Fan Club members! The next Dog Fan Club winner will be announced on March 5th and everyone who hasn't already won and all new members will be in the draw to win. Note: those of you who have already won but are fan club members of multiple dogs are still in the draw for the dogs you have not won with.

Click the button below for instructions on how to join:

Click this button below to take you directly to the Dog Fan Page.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

YQ300: The Red Team Journey

Follow Aliy and the SP Kennel Red Team on their YQ300 journey.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

YQ: Crossing the Finish Line - Video

The team crossed the line at six minutes past midnight on Tuesday, February 17 with a total time of 9 days, 14 hours, 6 minutes.

I'll make a compilation video soon, keep an eye out for that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

YQ: The Day After

All is quiet here at the kennel this morning. It's a warm 30F and the dogs are stretched out on their houses or on the cool snow enjoying the warmth of the sun. The humans are relaxing also. I'm not sure we'll hear too much from Allen today.

Last night was exciting huh?

After watching Brent and his fantastic team cross the line, the crew had just over an hour to wait before we got to see our team coming down the river. We heard them coming before we saw them as there were so many people lining the river and the supporters around the bend started cheering when they saw them. It was a thrilling moment to watch the headlamp come closer then to see the dogs loping and trotting with wagging tails and animated expressions. What a nice sight! And so nice to be able to get our hands on the dogs! Since Dawson the handler crew has had to be "hands off" at checkpoints and that's difficult when dogs you see every day wonder why you aren't petting them, so we enjoyed giving our friends some love.

As soon as they crossed the line the dogs wolfed down their steaks and Allen spent time thanking each dog before talking to the crowd and media. The Quest Facebook page has a good video of the team crossing the line and Allen's interview with Marty Steury, the YQ Executive Director - Alaska. One of the questions Allen was asked was "What happened between Two Rivers and Fairbanks?" Turns out, with so many trails in our neighborhood that lead to our kennel, the dogs got a bit confused about where they were going so Allen needed to coach them a bit through it. Once they got past, it was all good again and they were on their way but not before Brent had gotten past them.

A nice touch was as both teams cross the finish line the church bells rang out, I believe in tribute for George Attla who recently passed away.

Allen was amazed at the number of people out on the trails cheering the teams on, from the Two Rivers checkpoint, along Chena Hot Springs Road and at the Pleasant Valley Store then along the Chena River near the end and at the finish line. He said that is so good for the race and hopes it keeps getting bigger and bigger every year!

We'll have more soon.

YQ: Black Team 2nd!

What a day! We are so happy to have the team home, safe and sound, and so proud of Allen, Quito, Scout, Izzy, Chica, Sissy, Schmoe, Mac, Waylon, Chemo, Outlaw, Scooter, Nacho, Willie and Clyde. They really made a race of it at the end and gave us all an exciting finish.

Congratulations to Brent Sass and team Wild and Free! It was an extraordinary race!

Remember this picture from the start, way back almost ten days ago? What a lot has happened since then.

We'll update you with pictures and stories tomorrow and for the days to come but right now we are sending everyone to bed. In the meantime, check out the Yukon Quest Website, the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer and the Whitehorse Daily Star, who have been following the race plus other media outlets such as Emily Schwing's reports for KUAC and others.

Thank you so much for your support! We appreciate you and we're happy you came on this journey with us.

Monday, February 16, 2015

YQ: Leaving Two Rivers - Video

Part of the leaving routine for a longer stop is to walk the dogs around and stretch them out. This also serves to activate bladders and bowels so they don't have to stop as much while leaving. Allen took each dog for a quiet walk around while we all looked on.

Then, after booting and dressing the dogs and making some line-up changes there were a few moments when it was just Allen and Brent and their teams. They exchanged handshakes and some quiet words. These two guys know each other well and respect each other a lot. In fact both crews, SPK and Wild and Free, have great respect for each other so there was certainly no adversarial atmosphere as the teams were preparing to leave.

I captured the team leaving the checkpoint. (It was a real luxury to have some action during daylight! Most of what I have has been in the dark.) You will see just how close the two teams were - as the Black Team pulled out, the Wild and Free team was ready to rock and roll.

While watching the video, check out how light Allen's sled is!

As always, there are some great pictures of the team leaving the checkpoint on the Yukon Quest Facebook Page. They really are a talented bunch!

YQ: One Last Push To The Finish!

Say it with me: "GO TEAM!!!"

Allen and the SP Kennel Black Team, and Brent and the Wild and Free Team left Two Rivers checkpoint right on time, within two minutes of each other. The final leg is 73 miles to downtown Fairbanks. Two tough mushers, two extraordinary teams, two measly minutes. How exciting is that? This is really going to be a sprint to the finish with neither musher nor team giving an inch.

Allen left with 11 team mates on the line and Quito in single lead. He left Chemo and Outlaw with us. Chemo was nursing a tender triceps muscle and he is better to rest than push. Outlaw had been perfect but coming into the checkpoint, perhaps even going down the very last hill, he hurt his bicep/shoulder and is now back at the kennel with us. Both dogs made a huge contribution to the team effort and Allen was sorry to not have them for the final leg.

Chemo and Outlaw finish their race in Two Rivers

Both teams looked fired up as they left the checkpoint. Allen has run his team on this trail a few times leading up to the race, in anticipation of this very scenario. The dogs know that raw steaks and the cozy dog truck are waiting for them. Will that give them an advantage? I guess we'll know soon enough.

Whatever the outcome later this evening we are so proud of the team and thank you for your support during the race. We will leave the kennel a couple of hours before they are due to finish to set up ready to greet them. Keep an eye on the Yukon Quest Facebook page and website for up to the minute news.

How's that 'refresh finger' doing?


Pics and video to follow shortly.

YQ: Two Rivers

Well folks, it sure is a dog race! Allen and his team arrived into Two Rivers at 5.36am, two minutes ahead of Brent and his team. You weren't planning on doing anything else today were you, other than watching the tracker?

Both mushers set about their arrival routines after checking in, which were very similar to each other. During an eight hour break Allen feeds the dogs twice so his routine at this checkpoint was to snack the dogs immediately, remove booties and leggings etc, put straw down, massage, then give them the first of their meals. He then set about packing his sled ready for the final leg and changing runner plastics on the sled. The veterinarians do a very thorough dog-by-dog assessment of the team at this checkpoint also to be sure everyone is in good shape to continue.

Two Rivers checkpoint, manned by many of our neighbors; Wendy, Meghan and Moira awaiting the teams

Aliy spoke to Allen briefly about his run from Central. Allen said it was the best run up Eagle Summit he has ever had, the team he has is the strongest he's ever run up there. Schmoe, Scooter and Outlaw were barking on the way up the steepest part, cheering the rest of the team on and generally just expressing their joy!

He said they came across some gravelly patches on the trail near Mile 101 and up Rosebud due to the recent winds but they didn't experience any of the winds on either hill.

Allen and the dogs are currently sleeping and will get a good lot of rest here. The whole team needs to rest, refuel and rehydrate ready for the 73 mile sprint to the finish. We are very excited about the prospect of these two fantastic dog teams racing to Fairbanks!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

YQ: Mile 101

What an evening it has been. To be able to virtually watch, in real time, the team going up and over Eagle Summit is quite something. There is always a sigh of relief once they are heading down the other side. Thanks to the team at Trackleaders for the technology!

Screenshot of the moment the Black Team hit Eagle Summit

Aliy and I watched the team go over from the lounge at home, along with ChaCha, Bullet, Tig, Ranger, Tina, Charlet and Rambler. Meghan, Mark, Bridgett and Scotty were waiting it out at Mile 101 checkpoint.

Ranger helps me press refresh

The Black Team arrived in Mile 101 at 10.26pm and stayed just a few minutes for Allen to get supplies from his drop bags and snack both himself and his team. They left Mile 101 in first position with 13 dogs. They are now on the trail towards Two Rivers where they have a mandatory eight hour stop. This next section of trail goes up and over Rosebud Mountain. For more information about the trail ahead (and indeed, the trail behind) check out the Yukon Quest Mushers' Guide to the trail.

We have a long night of tracker watching ahead of us!

YQ: The Black Team - In and Out of Central

At 12.59pm this afternoon Allen and the Black Team rolled into Central and they have just left, still with 13 dogs on the line. Reports said that he would "stick around for a while" and that proved to be correct with them staying a little over four hours.

Bridgett said the dogs looked good coming into the checkpoint and were still peppy but they enjoyed their break there. The Quest Facebook page has a good video of the team arriving and some great pics.

Allen took off the back part of his sled in a bid to shed weight for the climbs over Eagle Summit and Rosebud Mountain. This part of the race is when he will start to travel lighter - the checkpoints are closer together and he will carry only what is necessary and what is prudent for a trip up and over a mountain.

At the checkpoint he grabbed a bite to eat and managed some sleep himself before starting his leaving routine. Part of that routine is to ensure his hands and feet are warm (right).

Just before they left the team did a group howl! He has Quito in single lead for the climb and Izzy was loping! Let's go!

The run from Circle to Mile 101 has a large, steep hill to go over - the famous Eagle Summit! From Central checkpoint they will climb 2,750 feet (from 935ft to 3,685) in the space of about 25 miles. Mile 101 checkpoint is about 33 miles from Central.

Refresh, refresh, refresh...

YQ: Sunday Morning & Scout Update

It seems that Allen stuck to his plan overnight and rested for two or three hours on Birch Creek, about half way between Circle and Central. As I write this, they are about 20-ish miles out of Central and the team looks to be about 11 miles behind Brent Sass' team.

It's been an interesting night watching the tracker, yelling at the tracker, refreshing the tracker, closing the tracker to get some sleep, opening the tracker again because you must know what's going on… does that sound familiar?

We are very excited to see them arrive into Central - there's quite a crowd up there waiting for them with Meghan and Mark as well as Spencer, Bridgett and Scotty. We'll get some info and maybe photos to you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Meghan has just fed Scout and taken him for a bit of a walk around. He is doing great! She said "Scout had a nice long snooze. Walked around to stretch out this morning, had a big breakfast and took some snacks with him back to bed. Getting lots of love and he's pretty happy in his straw bed."

Scout enjoys breakfast in Central

Back to bed with some snacks

Saturday, February 14, 2015

YQ: Circle Update

Allen and the Black Team pulled into Circle at 3.17pm this afternoon.

We've just had news from Meghan and Mark who are in Circle. They said the team looked great coming in; very strong. Check out the Yukon Quest Facebook page for some FANTASTIC pictures of the team coming into the checkpoint.

You will see in those pictures he had 13 dogs on the line with Chica and Quito in lead. He was carrying Scout in the bag - he became dehydrated and was not feeling 100% so Allen carried him for the last 30 miles. He has already spoken with the vets and completed the paperwork to officially drop him from the team.

As we saw from Lydia and Wedgy in the YQ300, Scout should bounce back fairly quickly once he is rehydrated and had some sleep. Meghan said poor Scout was so confused about why he was leaving the team as she led him away but he is now cozy in the truck.

Allen completes his checkpoint arrival routine

The rest of the dogs all "ate like monsters" according to Meghan. So did Allen!

Allen tucks into his dinner - is it just me or does that look like a steak to you too?

Right now Allen is down for a nap. At this stage we don't know if he is taking his mandatory six hour stop here, we'll wait and see.

YQ300: Red Team Wrap Up

For the Yukon Quest 300 Aliy specifically chose younger, lesser experienced dogs to give them some exposure to a competitively paced race. She said overall she was even more happy about this 300 than last year (if you remember last year she was excited and surprised just how good the "latinos" were). On the road trip home from Dawson I asked her about each of her team mates.

BEEMER and OLIVIA – were both exactly what she thought they would be. There were perfect 'veteran' dogs and she knew she could count on them for everything. They know what to do and were there if she needed them. She didn't want to count on them, she really wanted to give the youngsters the responsibility but it was nice to have them there! Olivia was in "4X4 Low", working hard the entire time.

MISMO was "large and in charge" - he is a BIG dog. 'Mis' was by far was the strongest throughout the entire race. At the beginning of the race Aliy could tell that he was almost cocky, which is unlike him, and shows he’s starting to come into himself. When he was partnered with someone he talked himself up: “Did you see what I did? Watch this”. For most of the race she ran him in middle of the team but for the last eight hours of the race she put him in SINGLE LEAD, at first just to shake things up. Aliy said "I told him he needed to do well so I gave him the opportunity. It took a little coaching for the first 10 mins because he started drifting into the deep snow but he soon figured it out and ran, straight as an arrow with a tight tug line." He definitely took his coaching to heart and from then on he was the man! For a while before that he ran in lead with Chipper but Mis is such a big dog that when he dipped for snow he bulldozed little Chippy into the snow so Aliy moved her back.

WEDGY was behind in miles compared to all her team mates and was the most inexperienced of the team at the start line. Wedgy missed out last year so this season is her learning season and Aliy was glad she got to go on the race. Wedgy learned a lot such as how to pace herself more than she used to. Aliy is excited to see her progress from here.

LYDIA almost puts too much effort into her work. Aliy was hoping this 300 mile race would teach her to pace herself more. There is certainly no lack of confidence in her ability - she really does take after her Momma Olivia.

CHIPPER really surprised Aliy. She is a biscuit pup through-and-through and she couldn’t help herself to lunge in harness, even one hour from finish line! Chipper might not be the biggest, toughest bruiser in the pack – but she works so hard and puts so much effort in. Aliy kept telling her that during the run: "Chipper, a small dog working hard is more valueable that a big dog that doesn’t work all the time." As mentioned above, Chipper did run in lead for a time during the last leg but Mismo is no gentle giant so she got put back to swing for for a few hours, only put back about two horus from finish. Aliy was really happy with her Chipper's first 300 mile race.

SANDY did well. She has more experience than all the other two year olds but this was her first race with Aliy. She is a hard worker and never lets up. She's doesn't stand out and is not flashy but, boy, she works hard.

KODIAK had the most 300 mile experience, running in Allen's championship winning Copper Basin 300 team last month. He and JUNIOR ran in lead for much of the race. Both were fairly inexperienced in really tough situations and in this race they learned what 'tough' meant. Kodiak was side-by-side with sister Junior almost the whole race, either in lead or team on last leg. He never faded.

Kodiak and Junior

JUNIOR has more of the “Yippy, skippy, I want to leave the checkpoint” attitude than her siblings. She is very happy go lucky, is full of enthusiasm and very vocal. She and Kodiak are a great team.

DUTCH definitely had the most pep when team stopped, either at checkpoints, camps, or for a snack on the trail. At the starting line he was the craziest to go! Dutch is always pretty excited to go but right now he’s in the best shape of his life and the tiredness was not getting to him. He’s come a long way since the CB300 and is learning how to use his body and muscles better. This race has taught how to ease it back a smidge and in he was in '4x4 LOW" by the end. He finished the race in swing with Felix. Dutch is going to get stronger and stronger and Aliy felt that pressing him a bit in the swing position was good for him and now he is a good, strong swing dog. He also showed his sensitive side when Spencer took Lydia back to the truck at Carmacks where she was dropped. Dutch and Lydia live next door to each other, play all day and often run together. When Lydia walked away Dutch tried to follow and started crying after her. Aliy had to try to distract him. Awww, bless him.

Those four siblings have very different personalities. LYDIA is confident and in your face. Kodiak is confident but much more polite about it. Dutch is emotional and Junior is the happy, driven cheerleader. All of them are incredibly talented sled dogs.

FELIX ran in swing for much of the race and he did well. He was almost picked for Allen's team, such is the confidence in his abilities, and he was a welcome addition to Aliy's Red Team. Felix puts a lot on the line early and he didn't have a lot of reserve so he needs to learn to conserve himself a bit. Each race he learns that lesson a little bit more. He is definitely a Biscuit pup and works wherever you put him, whether running with Mismo in the middle of the team, in wheel or swing. He's just a happy dog!

NELSON is a good, solid dog and Aliy was disappointed he didn't get to finish the race. He is fine now and is definitely in the frame for an Iditarod spot.

Overall, Aliy said it was not a pleasant 300 mile race; it was more of a endurance event that you could feel good about completing because once in a while you forget you have the ability to function in a ridiculously cold arctic environment. It's not every day that it’s 50 below - she has seen it in the Iditarod, Copper Basin and the Gin Gin but never from start to finish! This was the coldest race she has ever run, by far. At those temperatures your concern isn't about strategy - it’s all about protecting your dogs and yourself from the cold and all energy goes there.

So, have you guessed the Most Valuable Dog? MISMO!!

YQ: Circle City

Good morning! We don't have very much in the way of updates for you as since the team left Eagle as there have been no official checkpoints to record in/out times, nor any update from the dog drop/hospitality stop at Slaven's Roadhouse.

We have, however, been monitoring the tracker closely and from what we can tell they stopped at Slaven's for around five hours. We hear there is a lot of jumble ice on the trail from Slaven's to Circle so we expect his run time to be longer than originally anticipated. They are about 30 miles from Circle City currently.

The new race rules see the teams taking a mandatory six hour stop in either Circle City, Central or Mile 101, it remains to be seen where the Black Team take their rest so we'll keep an eye on what's going on there. They don't need to 'declare' their mandatory rests so we won't really know until they pull the hook and leave.

Meghan and Mark have been in Circle since yesterday afternoon enjoying the hospitality of the checkpoint and the comfortable seats, doubling as beds, in Hollywood (the dog truck). They will be on hand when the team comes in later today.

Friday, February 13, 2015

YQ: King Solomon's Dome

Allen took a GoPro with him on the Quest in the hopes of capturing a different perspective of the race. Temperatures in the early stages of the race prevented him from using it much but he did manage to get some footage and the team ran up King Solomon's Dome, the highest point on the Yukon Quest.


Thanks to the team at Verizon for supplying us with GoPros!

YQ: Friday Update

Since the Black Team left us in Dawson at 9.18pm on Wednesday we have been somewhat incommunicado. You all have likely known more about what was going on that we did!

What we know is that Allen and his team mates took their mandatory six hour rest in Eagle and left at 4.58am this morning with all 14 dogs still on the line. Right now they are resting at Trout Creek Hospitality Stop, enjoying a rest in the heat of the day before continuing on to Circle City.

Meghan and Mark are on their way to Circle to greet them.

The Black Team about five hours from Eagle (photo: Codie Malloy)

Our drive home was long; and it felt even longer as most of it was during darkness. We did get treated with sightings of some exciting wildlife: wolf, lynx, moose, bunnies and squirrels!

All the Red Team dogs are very happy to be home and at their houses. We'll do a Red Team YQ300 wrap-up soon. Until then, have a guess who Aliy's MVD was - see if you get it right!

YQ: A Peaceful Look Back At Dawson

As the Black Team heads towards Circle checkpoint, let's go back 48-odd hours to see the dogs resting in camp at Dawson.

IT was about 15 hours into their break and everyone had just been up for a meal and a stretch out jog, had received a massage and kisses and they were about to be covered up with their fleece and/or insulated blankets for some more sleep.

Doesn't it look peaceful?

If you are interested in knowing more about our camp - take a look back at the previous two years: 2014 and 2013 Dawson Dog Camps

Thursday, February 12, 2015

And on to Part II

After Allen and the Black Team left Dawson last night, Aliy, Ray, Spenser and Moira all got a good night sleep before packing up the Dog Camp and heading off on the long ride back to Fairbanks.  They will make a quick stop in Whitehorse before starting the 12 hour drive home.  Moira has some great video to share and will get that up as soon as they get home. 

The black team is making their way to Eagle right now.  As we get more information, I'll get it up for you.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

YQ: Fourteen Dog Night

We sent Allen, Quito and Scout, Izzy and Chica, Schmoe and Sissy, Mac and Waylon, Outlaw and Chemo, Nacho and Scooter, and Willie and Clyde into the night, right on time at 9.18pm. They all looked happy and healthy and were excited to head down the trail.

Phew - we are happy to get them off safely but looking forward to seeing them again in Circle - some 225-odd miles from Dawson. The teams have a compulsory stop in Eagle but in the winter, it is not on the road system so the next time we can catch up with them is Circle City.

We're going to sleep now. Will tear down camp in the morning then start the trek back to Two Rivers where we will deploy a handler team up to Circle.

YQ: Sled Repairs

During the Dawson layover handlers are allowed to make any necessary sled repairs to the musher's sled. This one of Ray's many responsibilities while we are here.

I followed him to the RCMP workshop to find out what he does.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

YQ: The Black Team is in Dawson!!

The Black Team crossed the line in Dawson at 9.18pm looking absolutely fantastic. They were animated, had wagging tails and eagerly ate up their thawed steaks in front of a crowd of media and onlookers.

Allen himself was great! But, I’m quite certain he will be looking forward to a sleep.

The run/rest schedule Allen has run thus far looks to have paid off as the dogs still were perky and had good energy. Remember, they have 24 hours here in Dawson, not 36 as they have in previous years. There are 12 fewer hours to rest and recharge.

What happens now? Aliy took over the team and mushed them across the river to the campground where Spencer (who got a lift by truck) was waiting for them with a big warm meal. Aliy and Spencer then undressed the dogs of all their coats and harnesses etc. The veterinarian team will do their thorough dog-by-dog check on them before the dogs settle for a rest.

At various intervals throughout the night and tomorrow we will walk, feed, massage them etc. It’s important to get lots of calories into them so they are primed ready to go the next 500 miles.

As far as Allen goes, Ray whisked him immediately off to the truck to change into some dry clothes. He will head over to the camp for the vet checks then we’ll get some food into him before he catches some sleep. He will need no rocking tonight!!

Ray then takes Allen’s sled to the RCMP facilities where he will thaw it out, check it out for any necessary repairs and get it ready for Allen to pack up in 22-odd hours from now.

Check out the Yukon Quest Facebook page for good pics and video of the team’s arrival. I have some footage and will get something up as soon as I can.

YQ: Dawson Dog Camp Setup

After a short nap and some hot breakfast and coffee - lots and lots of coffee - the handler crew of Ray, Aliy, Spencer and picked up our drop bags and straw from the lovely volunteers at the checkpoint HQ then drove over the Yukon River ice bridge to the campground so we could set up camp.

The rules are specific about what kind of shelter we can set up for the dogs so we string up rope from tree to tree and stretch the biggest tarpaulin you'll ever see over it. The shelter must be open ended and have enough room for the veterinarians to get inside and complete their dog checks. Inside the shelter are the drop lines where we will hook up the dogs and two whole bales of straw are set up ready for them to snuggle in.

We have all the dog food kibble and snacks we could want and we spent time organising it and laying it all out to make dispensing it easy when the time comes.

We also set up an arctic oven tent with a heater so when Spencer spends the night he doesn't freeze! We'll show you around the camp after our guests have arrived.

Before; check out our awesome view across the river!

Our completed campsite/doggie hotel

Right now we will nap some more then we expect the team to arrive later this afternoon/this evening. From the time they cross the line and check in it is all hands on deck. Aliy and Spencer will take over dog-care, with a meticulously planned timetable of food, sleep, stretch-out walks, massage and love. Ray will take of Allen-care and sled-care. I will float between the two doing what else needs doing and keeping you up-to-date with it all.

We also have the Red Team here with us in Dawson. They may not go into the camp with us but we have a schedule set of for them also that includes pretty much the same thing as the Black Team only they will be based on the truck.

We are excited to see the team later today! It will have been a long time since we caught sight of them leaving Pelly. For Aliy the last time she saw them was in Carmacks on, what was it, Sunday? I've lost track!

YQ300: Red Team Finish Second

Congratulations Aliy, Beemer, Olivia, Junior, Lydia, Kodiak, Dutch, Felix, Mismo, Nelson, Chipper, Sandy and Wedgy! They finished the Yukon Quest 300 in second position at 1.30am Tuesday, with a race time of 57 hours, 36 minutes.

Congratulations to Michelle Phillips, a deserved win with an awesome team! Also to Alex Serdjukov, who at the time of writing is the only other musher to finish, so far.

It was cold out there on the Pelly River and Aliy was happy to be home. The dogs went straight to the truck, ate a huge meal and are now happily sleeping for the next few hours.

The handler team has just arrived in Dawson and we will sleep short and fast, caffinate then set up camp for our Black Team athletes.

More soon!

Monday, February 9, 2015

YQ300: The Red Team On Final Leg

The Red Team left Pelly towards Stepping Stone at 2.35pm ready for their final leg. The mileage is 31 miles there then turn around and do the same 31 miles back so don't be alarmed when you see the tracker show they have turned around - they are supposed to! They are currenty running in SECOND position with just over an hour in front to Michelle Phillips in first position and a couple of hours behind to Alex Serdjukov in third.

Red Team leaving Pelly (photo Wendy)

You will see in the standings that Aliy left with 9 dogs. She left Nelson with us as he developed a fairly minor rub on his neck, under his collar and at these cold temperatures there is a risk that raw skin can get frost-bitten. Where it was situated it would have been difficult to protect effectively and she didn't want to risk turning it into something more serious. He's perfectly happy hanging with Wedgy and Lydia waiting for the return of their team mates.

YQ: Pelly Update #2

We got the Black Team out of Pelly safely and they headed down the trail with a sled full of food, straw and equipment for camping along the way. It is a gorgeous morning here, we surely are in a beautiful part of the world.

The Black Team leaves Pelly

After his sleep Allen was in great spirits, laughing and joking with reporters about the trail he’d just been on and the journey ahead. He was talking with us over bacon and egg breakfast, about packing his sled for the trail ahead. He is known for travelling lightly when possible and appropriate, but it is neither possible, nor appropriate to pack lightly for a 200 mile stretch. He joked when he stuffed a bag of mixed nuts in his bag that “it’s like an elephant when you put a million ants together”. Ahh the wisdom of a sleep deprived musher!

Not that long after the Black Team left we welcomed Aliy and the Red Team. All athletes, canine and human had frosty faces and wagging tails (or the equivalent of a wagging tail). They loped into the checkpoint and settled quickly into a comfy straw bed in the midday sunshine. This is the perfect time for the dogs to be resting, they are stretched out enjoying the relative warmth of the sun in their peaceful parking spot.

The Red Team comes into Pelly; Aliy is a little frosted

Dutch and Chipper sporting frosted beards

Beemer has been the rockstar of the team in the last couple of legs. He navigated the team out of McCabe and has shown great enthusiasm to be running with this young team. Aliy was pleased she rested the team at McCabe and they will rest here for a few hours before heading out to, and back from, Stepping Stone and finish the race.

Once they finish we pack everyone up and high-tail to Dawson so we can set up the dog camp ready for the Black team to arrive sometime tomorrow. I’ll post finish pics from Dawson.