Sunday, January 31, 2016

Anchorage Hotel for Iditarod Weekend

During the Iditarod weekend in Anchorage the entire SP Kennel Crew of dogs and humans will be staying at the Extended Stay Anchorage - Downtown.

Come stay with us and you might get to meet the dogs and the crew! We will let you know the schedule for when we "drop the dogs" (actually: lift them down very carefully) from the truck during Friday, Saturday and Sunday for feeding and walking, so come and visit with us. We would love to see you!

Please email Linda Steiner at: for bookings, pricing and availability.

We will keep this button in the 'fan zone' (left hand side) of the blog that links you to more information and contact details.

NOTE: At this point in time there are no plans for a 'Meet-and-Greet' with Aliy and Allen this year.

The Yukon Quest

The Yukon Quest is an important race for SP Kennel, both currently and historically. Aliy and her team won this race back in 2000 and we have Pedro's Golden Harness hanging on a rack as the first thing you see as you walk in the house.

Aliy and Pedro in 2000

Allen and the Black Team won in 2013 and 2014 and Quito's golden harnesses hang alongside Pedro's. We love this race and it's history.

Allen and Quito at the finish line in 2014

I asked Aliy about why she loves the Quest: "The Yukon Quest... the word "intimate" comes to mind. You are intimately connected with your dog team in a way that other races, training and the "real world" don't allow. The reason behind this is because for long periods of the race you see no-one. You don't see the thousands of people standing cheering you on; you don't see the hoards of volunteers at multiple checkpoints; you'll be lucky if you can stumble across a cabin that you can find and the bears haven't ravaged it the summer before. So the Yukon Quest route is definitely travelling back in time and not forward. It's rare that you can do that these days.

It's really cool that a person can experience that as a dog musher but at the same time be able to carry a tracker and therefore be able to carry thousands of fans down the trail with them, even when the mushers don't know who every one of them are.

Allen says he also enjoys the "going back in time" aspect of the race. "Every time we run the Quest we go back in time to see what it was like when our great-grandfathers were alive. We like challenges and there are always challenges on the Yukon Quest. It reminds us of what our forefathers went through."

The Yukon Quest website is a great source of interesting information about the history of the race so check it out!

"At the top of the world in the Yukon and Alaska wilderness of northwestern North America, an epic winter sports event takes place every February: the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race. Covering 1,000 miles (1,600 km) between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska during the depths of winter, the Yukon Quest is known for excellence in canine care and fostering the traditions of northern travel by dog sled."

In less than a week, 23 mushers will leave the starting chute in Fairbanks and head 1000 miles up mountains, over rivers and down the trail towards Whitehorse. A few hours later another 24 mushers leave for the 300 mile event, finishing this year in Circle City.

The route for the 1000 milers has been changed slightly this year from Eagle to Dawson City. You can read in the updated trail report that "Mushers will be re-routed up the Clinton Creek secondary road to the highway and follow that into Dawson. This results in a 2,500-foot climb over the course of about 20 miles up out the Forty Mile River valley to the highway and another 30 miles in high country into Dawson." When Allen read of the change in route he immediately looked up the history of the area and said he was looking forward to seeing a new part of the country.

We're excited to get this race underway! There are a few events happening this week leading up to the race start and we'll let you know about them soon, along with a coverage guide of where you can get the best information (hint: right here)!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Moira's Mansion

Moira takes Aliy on a tour of "The Mansion"!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Champ's Red Team Recap

Champ was the most proud and vocal member of the 2nd place Red Team, so he would like to share his personal Race Recap. Here it is… the Red Team Wrap-up from Champ's Perspective:

"A fast and hilly 200 hundred mile race might seem like it was a bit tough, but it was honestly a piece of cake… for me at least. The rest of the team did fairly well and Aliy seem to be able to navigate the trails somewhat successfully. She did break her sled on the second leg but I guess she said that a tree just came out of no where?!? I do believe that if I had been in lead, I could have gained a few minutes on that speedy Will Rhodes' team. But… hey… that wasn't my call.

"Our leaders were fairly fast and steady. For some reason, Aliy decided that Dutch (he's my half brother on my Dad's side) was going to be the main leader. Dutch has never been a main leader and as far as I know, he's only bumped up into this command position about a month ago. But, I guess she decided he could do it. He ran all 200 miles in lead - passed many teams quite well, but didn't always know Gee from Haw. (I have to be truthful… those two commands get me confused from time to time as well.)

Izzy was the other leader for the first half of the race. (She's my first cousin and super cute!) She seemed to really enjoy the speed in the hills and got excited about seeing new trails. Izzy sat out the last race (so did I) so she was excited to be an important part of this race team. She wasn't quite up to leading at such a fast pace for the second half, so Aliy moved her farther back in the team and bumped Commando up to Izzy's spot.

Commando… yeah, well. He kinda thinks he's the bomb. I mean, yeah, I get it. He did run Iditarod last year when all the rest of us youngsters didn't get to go. But, he's kinda a pretty boy, if you ask me. (He's my half brother too and we've never really seen eye to eye.) Aliy seems to trust him in lead and he and Dutch share a similar gait. So, I guess he did pretty well, but don't tell him I said that.

Lydia is seriously a pipsqueak. I don't think she knows she's that small. I could probably see over her if she were standing on top of herself. Anyhow, she ran in the swing position and added a great deal of pep and speed to the team. She always screams to go and rallies at the drop of a hat. The trails were very hard packed -- like an ice skating rink -- so she got a tiny bit of a sore wrist. She tried to convince Aliy to let her finish the race, but Aliy said that there are more important races in the future. So, the Race Veterinarian ~ Dr. Mercedes (cool name, huh?) ~ examined Lydia, scribbled on some papers and then Wendy walked her to the Dog Truck at the Angel Creek Checkpoint. I'm sure glad I didn't have to go -- what a bummer!

Chipper is somewhat annoying, but everyone seems to LOVE her. I don't get it. I live next to her in the yard and she's always yelling at me and circling like a crazy dog. I don't think she knows what tired is. Anyhow, Chipper started the race in wheel and slowly she made her way farther and farther up towards the front. Chipper is actually a lead dog but for some reason Aliy kept saying she wanted to give some of the rookies a chance to lead during this race. So, Chipper finished the race in swing - although I'm pretty sure she whispered a few suggestions to Dutch and Commando towards the end.

Spark (left, getting straw from Aliy) was a steady team dog and also good in swing.

He's a little dopey and tends to bother a lot of the other dogs. That's because he likes to play when we are supposed to be sleeping. I even saw Aliy lay him down on his straw bed so that he understood S-L-E-E-P. Like I said… dopey. He's my half brother too, so I can say that.

Spark has an incredibly fast trot (almost as good as mine!)

Mac was on my team which was wayyyyy cool. I've never been on a team with him. He's really talented and super strong. I'm not sure there's any other dog as strong as him at the kennel - well… except my Dad. Anyhow Mac seems to get kinda overheated now and then but he dips a lot of snow and cools off after we've been running for a while. This was a good race for him because Aliy seemed pretty happy about Mac's finish.

I was surprised to find Sissy on my team too. She's always been a super cutey. I was really hoping that I would get to run next to her but Aliy put her and Mac together. I think maybe they are boyfriend and girlfriend. She is a real worker and can run with super speed.

Nomex is a big lug. He's got all these big muscles and a big head. He sure has a lot of power in the hills and I try my earnest to keep up with him. I guess the hard packed trails made him just a little sore too. After Aliy massaged him, she decided he should finish the race in the dog truck instead of on the team. I have to admit that last 65 mile leg was a doozy, so maybe she was right about that. I saw him playing with Violet in the yard today… so I guess he's good to go.

Iron and I ran together for the whole 200 miles. He's a year older than me but we really have about the same experience. I probably have more to be honest. He actually got in trouble at the Race Start when he decided to chew his harness - even I know we aren't supped to do that! Iron and I worked super hard for all 200 miles and it was exciting to finish strong right next to him.

Sandy (right with Chipper) is a shy, quiet gal. She never really gets the attention that the others seems to. I wonder why that is - she's super pretty, smooth and works like a champion.

I heard Aliy talking about her at the halfway point and I guess Sandy has really been impressing her this season. Maybe she'll get the recognition she deserves this season.

We took the team on a stretch-out run after the race and captured some of it on video. Champ added his comments.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Red and Black 200 Team Wrap-Up

Chris sat down with Moira and told her about his team for the Two Rivers 200.

It was fun to race this team of mostly two year olds with some great experience to back them up. We enjoyed running some new trails and racing along side so many other teams.

Lester is brilliant. He did struggle a bit on the trails we run every day for training because we took different routes that he didn't think we should be taking; but all in all he did an incredible job and I was pleased to have him up front.

Chena did great for her first race as the main leader. She was always loping, always happy and always motivating the team.

Woody was a superstar! He never dropped his tug line the entire race. He did a good job as a back up leader when Lester made the "wrong decision" (the right decision as far as Lester was concerned!).

Daisy (right) is another superstar! She is one of those dogs that you never have to worry about because she is always pulling and never screwing around. She also gets in my face and smothers me with kisses whenever I try to put booties on. (Photo: Helen Campbell)

Violet - is sassy and loves to bark at every team she passes. She is never aggressive, she just makes a lot of noise. She was always ready to eat and always ready to go.

Coal (left) needed a little motivation at the beginning of the third leg but after I had a good talk to him he picked it up and pulled for the rest of the run.

Chemo is level headed and never makes too big a fuss. He always works. It was nice to have his calming presence and experience on the team.

Pepe (right) - the little ball of energy - was key to this race. He ran in wheel for the entire last leg and helped us up the really steep hills at the end. (Photo: Helen Campbell)

Hotshot - this was the longest race Hotshot has been on. He has such a big heart and he works so hard all the time that I'm amazed that he had energy left at the end of the race.

Amber (front) - was barking on the up-hills even at the end of the race. She has so much energy and drive and motivates the entire team, including me.

Cayenne (back) - eats like horse but seemed to use more calories than she takes in and because of this she was low on energy towards the end. But, she still worked her heart out and finished with me.

Wedgy also worked her heart out! She pulled so hard for the first 150 miles that she got a bit tired during the last leg. But, even at the finish she was trying as hard as she could.

My MVD for the race was Daisy because she was always such a hard worker!

MVD Daisy

Thanks to the handler crew of Wendy, Mark and Padee for their hard work over the weekend and to the TRDMA and trail team who put on this such a good race.

Below is some video Wendy captured in Angel Creek Lodge checkpoint. It is just as Chris is getting ready to leave: the dogs have had their meal, are bootied but still have their jackets on are are just starting to move about. It is interesting to see how calm the team is; you can see Lester and Chemo, the experienced ones, getting as much out of their rest time as they can. You can be sure once all jackets are off and they were off the straw the noise and excitement level raised dramatically!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Red and Black 100 Team Wrap-Up

Racing the Two Rivers 100 was the highlight of my time helping out at SP Kennel. I had one of the most recognizable 'front ends' in Alaska; it was like being handed the keys to Daddy's Ferrari! Most recently I have found myself managing the SP Kennel Mentorship Program. This involves taking some of the most talented kennel dogs and having them show the 5 yearlings how it's done. For this race the mentors were Quito, Olivia, Chica, Boondocks, Nacho, and Biscuit. The five yearlings were Chica and Clyde's litter of Five, Ernie, Ginger, Rodney, and Scooby who had never raced before let alone been in a dog truck; so many new experiences for them.

The 100 race started an hour after the 200 and I started 8th out of 10. The race temperature was around 0F but the biting wind made it feel colder at the Chatanika lodge. I have camped with the same team several times and know how long it takes to harness, booty, and prepare to leave. What I didn't know was that when the pups are so excited with other teams leaving the entire process takes longer. I nearly missed my starting time but a concentrated effort from all handlers got me to the starting line on time.

The trail immediately started climbing one of multiple Chatanika hills but the team was so energized that I still used my drag going up-hill in order to pace them and make sure their muscles warmed up properly. It didn't take long before I was passed by musher #39, Dakota Schlosser. We started what essentially became a private race that lasted until almost the finish line. We passed each other almost a dozen times during the course of the race. Every time someone stopped to fix booties, tangles, or snack, they were passed.

The Chatanika hills were hard work but one of the most serene mushing experiences I have encountered. It was slightly overcast but the wind stopped by the time I was in the hills and large fluffy snowflakes started to fall. It was like mushing in falling cotton candy in a winter version of Charlie's Chocolate Factory! The amazing views were panoramic all through the hills.

Hard up-hills soon became steep down-hills and required my full attention. Having over 30 teams brake downhill ahead of me resulted in a trail with not much for the brake to work with and some very rapid descents. The trail eventually flattened out in a valley and most of the remainder of the first run was very flat and fast.

One of the concerns I had going into this race was how the yearlings would handle being passed, and passing from behind. We had a shaky start and the first pass by Dakota Schlosser required a bit of untangling. The next pass was our turn to pass a lady and her team. She was about to pull her hook from adjusting something when she saw us so she waited for us to pass her by. Quito and Olivia perfectly led the team quickly by on a left hand pass. The entire team followed suit except Rodney who decided to pass her on the right. His tug line clothesline'd her behind the knees and caught her off guard. I jammed on the brake fearing that both musher and dog were injured. Rodney was fine and the musher assured me she was also and we kept going. Most of the rest of the passing was done by us and the yearlings gained confidence with each pass.

The Two Rivers Lodge checkpoint was great with well organized parking on a frozen pond. On private camps, Scooby and Rodney had eventually learned to settle down and be quiet, however with so many other teams around them it took a bit longer this time. Eventually they got it and lay quietly as other teams left. It wasn't until the team next to us got ready to leave that they could no longer contain their enthusiasm. Unfortunately I had to leave Nacho behind at Two Rivers Lodge; the fast down-hills caused his right shoulder to get a bit sore and he ended up returning to the kennel early.

The second leg of the race was on familiar turf and we took the trail at a pace that neither pups nor musher had experienced before. It raced along Two Rivers trails before heading out to an even faster river trail and then back into the Two Rivers forest. The river section involved multiple passings with Dakota's team except when we both had to jam on the brake when two large moose tumbled into the trail right in front of us and proceeded to race each other across the ice. They were either the largest moose I have ever seen or I was just way too close.

As the race went on and on you could see the pups wondering what was going on. They had never run this long and fast before. To their credit, they never stopped pulling and couldn't wait for each snacking. The older dogs knew the game well and just kept going as fast as I would allow them.

Here is a Team Summary of everyone's performance:

Quito- It's amazing to have her on my team. I think her passing skills saved us at least 5 minutes of tangles. She never slowed down and her drive and desire is as strong as ever. It's time to start running some of the younger dogs in lead with her since she has so much to teach.

Olivia - Is a bundle of energy and her leading abilities can rival Quito. Combined they are a complete Power Steering Unit that can make minor trail adjustments on command.

Olivia, Scooby, Ernie and Rodney

Chica - It's hard to know what Chica is thinking as she has such a mellow personality. I always suspected she may tire but she never did and was as strong as ever the entire race.

Boondocks - ran in lead for about 30 seconds when her harness became unclipped. She passed Olivia and Quito but turned around once she realized she was alone. Her enthusiasm is as strong as ever and she was circling at every break and getting tangled with Chica up until the very last snack.

Nacho - is the perfect mentor for Five. They are both big dogs and have similar running styles. They never get tangled and just run side by side. Nacho's knowledge and attitude were impeccable as he demonstrated how to pass teams and lean into the harness in the hills. I hope Nacho and Five get lots more time together.

Biscuit - does set a good example for eating, sleeping, and enthusiasm. However, sometimes his enthusiasm gets the best of him and his line manners show it. Five moved back with Biscuit when I had to drop Nacho and that resulted in teaching Five how to circle and get tangled!

Five - (left) Is a big powerhouse who drops his shoulders and just gets on with the job. You never see his head come up and sometimes you wonder if he is in distress.

As soon you stop the sled to check, his head pops up and he looks at you as though you have just messed up his rhythm. I predict that he will become a key player at the kennel.

Ginger - (right) is solid with a continuous tight line. She does not get too distracted with anything and has learnt to camp very quickly. She is quick to settle on her straw and will keep her eyes closed until it's time to get bootied.

Rodney - has been learning from Biscuit. Everything gets him excited and he gets impatient if the snack breaks take too long. His passing improved drastically during the course of the race and I predict that once we learn to manage his energy he will become a very dependable dog. He also won't stop eating; I think he would eat a car tire if I gave him one.

Scooby- Wins the Most Improved award since I started working mostly with the yearlings in December. He and Rodney used to compete for the most chaotic hookups but now he is patient while he gets his booties put on and does not spin while waiting on the line. He looks around a lot while running and absorbs everything that is going on. He is well on his way to becoming a solid team member.

Ernie - Is a sensitive soul who thinks that getting booties put on is a form of being cuddled. He loves attention and craves approval. He is not as strong as some of his siblings but his line did not go slack once during the race and I couldn't have asked for more.

Wes - worked his tail off going up the hills and arrived at Two Rivers Lodge without one. Fortunately he did not need one on the second leg as the trail was so fast there was nothing he could have done to help the team's speed. His hat and jacket required wringing out at Two Rivers Lodge. Wes is still available for sponsorship.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two Rivers 100/200 Prizegiving

This evening the Two Rivers Lodge hosted the finish banquet and prize giving for the Two Rivers 100/200.

Thank you to the committee and volunteers for putting on the race - we know a lot of hard work went into pulling everything together! Thanks also to Abbie West and her trail crew for a fantastic trail. There were so many who remarked how it was well marked and a really good test for the dogs.

Congratulations to all the award winners - please go to the TRDMA Facebook page for a full list.

Aliy won this beautiful wooden plaque and an ax, which, for a musher is an excellent and most useful prize. Thank you!

We have a bunch of photos and some video to sort trough and edit and will get to you asap. We're working on team wrap ups also and hope to have them to you during the week.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

R&B200s in 9th!!

We are so excited that Chris and his R&B200 Team finished strongly in 9th place! Their run time from Angel Creek Lodge was 7 hours 41 minutes for a total elapsed time of 31 hours, 25 minutes. He pulled in with Lester and Chena still in lead and all 12 of his team mates.

The dogs looks happy and waggy and Chris was very pleased with his race - as he should be! We're really proud of him and his team of Lester, Chena, Chemo, Woody, Wedgy, Coal, Hotshot, Daisy, Pepe, Violet, Amber and Cayenne.

Everyone has gone straight to bed after dinner (dogs had kibble and meat, Chris had chicken stir-fry) so we will get more details in the next couple days.

Thanks for following along with us for these races. It's been a fun, fast paced and successful weekend for SP Kennel.

Right: Chris with Lester and Chena (Photo credit Padee Mccrery)

Red Team Finish Video

Here's a quick video of the Red Team finishing the Two Rivers 200. You'll see the team as they head under Jenny M Creek road bridge - about 12 miles from home. Then, just as Aliy is about to cross the line you can see a glimpse of Matt Hall's headlamp behind and see just how very close it was!

Two Rivers 200 Finish Update

Aliy and the Red Team crossed the line in second place, 14 minutes behind winner Will Rhodes and merely seconds in front of Matt Hall. Congratulations to Dutch, Izzy, Spark, Commando, Lydia, Mac, Sissy, Nomex, Chipper, Iron, Champ and Sandy on a super race! And it's a 1, 2, 3 for Two Rivers mushers!

Nomex and Lydia were the two dogs that Aliy left behind at Angel Creek. She said they were both very conservative drops and both should recover very quickly with a little rest and some massage. Lydia had a slight wrist issue and Nomex got a little stiff.

The whole team is now at home, have had a lovely kibble and meat dinner and all are peacefully snoozing in their houses.

We expect Chris and the R&B200s home between around 8 or 9pm and can't wait to see them!! (Edit - changed estimated time of finish for Chris based on other teams' run times)

We have some great video and photo footage that I will edit tonight and get to you asap. More soon...

Angel Creek Update

Aliy and the Red Team have just left Angel Creek Lodge checkpoint (at 10.27am) and are on the final 60 miles to the finish line at Pleasant Valley Store. They had only 1.5 hours mandatory rest to see out there while Will Rhodes and Matt Hall had to stop for two hours. Aliy left the checkpoint in third position just 5 minutes and 1 minute behind them respectively. It will be a very close finish (we LOVE them!) with the three local mushers duking it out; with the next mushers not very far behind!!

The leaderboard has her leaving with ten team mates. At this stage we are unsure who she has left with the handler team to do the final leg in the truck. We appreciate your patience as we get this information and we will let you know as soon as we find out.

For the first 25 miles of this leg they are on the same trail as those coming from PVS so there will be some head on passing for that stretch. This is where good leaders and swing dogs come in to play and if she still has Izzy and Dutch in lead they are both relatively inexperienced up there so it will be a very good test for them.

This trail has some big climbs and they are trails our teams know well. Of course, Will and Matt's teams know them well also! So... LETS'S GO TEAM!!

Chris and the R&B200s are resting at Angel Creek and have three hours to see out before they can leave for the finish line. He's expected to leave at 12.34pm. There is limited communication out there so we haven't been able to catch up with the handler team to find out any details. We'll update you when we can.

Please keep an eye on the TRDMA Facebook Page and their website leaderboard for updates as we won't be able to post for a while. Pics and hopefully video to follow.

Two Rivers 200 Update

Aliy and the Red Team are on the trail towards Angel Creek Lodge for their final mandatory rest before the final leg back to the Pleasant Valley Store. They posted a run time from Two Rivers Lodge to Pleasant Valley Store of 4 hours, 25 minutes and rested there 4.5 hours plus their time differential. It's difficult to say what position they are currently in until after the last checkpoint as mushers will take differing amounts of time rest there but they are right in contention.

Chris and the R&B200 Team are also on their way to Angel Creek after spending four hours plus differential at the Store. Their run time for Leg Two was 5 hours, 14 minutes.

#8 and #27 at the race start yesterday

You'll see some pics on the TRDMA Facebook page of Chris' team and, to answer some queries, the green "collar" Lester is wearing is illuminated so people can see the team coming at night - snow machiners, vehicles etc - and it also makes it easy for the handler team to spot them coming. Mac is also wearing one on Aliy's team.

The handler team is working very hard to keep track of, and clean up after, three teams so they will deserve a huge pat on the back by the end. When you are sleep deprived it can be difficult to calculate time differentials, estimated arrival times, leaving times etc so WELL DONE TEAM!

R&B100s Finish 4th!

Congratulations to Wes and his team of Quito, Olivia, Chica, Boondocks, Biscuit, Ernie, Five, Rodney, Ginger and Scooby! They crossed the line at 3.38 this morning to finish 4th! The whole team, including Nacho, is happy at home now after a warm meal and are all curled up in their boxes sleeping.

We are so excited and proud of him and the team, and to be honest a little emotional about the yearlings becoming "proper" race dogs. Those of you who have followed SP Kennel for a while will know that these five had a pretty difficult start to life (click here for some background) so to see them grown-up to be fit, healthy racing dogs brings tears to our eyes.

R&B100s at the race start

Their run time from the Lodge to the Store was a quick 5 hours 10 minutes!

The finish line was dark so unfortunately we were unable to get any footage. But, head over the the TRDAM Facebook page where Julien Schroder has posted some fantastic pics of all our teams.

We will get Wes to do a dog by dog wrap-up in the next few days so you can hear how everyone fared. But, for right now, everyone is enjoying a good night sleep!

Congrats to neighbors Tom, Judy and Maliko for their fantastic races!

Friday, January 22, 2016

On The Way To Pleasant Valley

Currently both Aliy and the Red Team and Chris and the R&B200 teams are on the trail to Pleasant Valley Store, some 55 miles away. Wes and the R&B100s are still resting and will see out their mandatory four hours plus time differential (an extra four minutes).

Tonight all trails really do lead to Pleasant Valley Store!

The Red Team took four hours rest at the Lodge so were back out on the trail at 8.36pm. Aliy had all 12 team mates with her. She said her run from Chatanika was really good apart from the tangle on the road where she lost a few minutes trying to sort it out. Dutch and Izzy are doing really well in lead and she intends to keep them there as long as they are happy. Spark was working on his goal for the race - to lay down at the checkpoints without assistance - and so far he wasn't really reaching it BUT there are two checkpoints to go! Oh Sparky, you have to rest, young man!

They had the 3rd fastest run time for the leg.

Chris and his R&B200 team arrived into the checkpoint at 6.01pm with a run time of 5 hours and 9 minutes. He said his run was smooth and the dogs are doing well. He rested at the Lodge for three hours so was back on the trail at 9.01pm with all 12 team mates. Chris' pre-race plan had him staying only three hours at the checkpoint (as opposed to Aliy's four) as he has a lot of youngsters who, as expected, didn't rest that well at the first checkpoint. He will catch up that hour at one of the later checkpoints when they are more ready for the rest. Chena and Lester were still leading the team when they left the checkpoint.

Wes and his R&B100 team had a great run. They all had fun and had a very good run time of 5 hours 8 minutes over the 50 miles. Evidently Rodney got a bit over excited when they were checking in and having the mandatory gear check - he spun round and round and wound his tug like in such a knot that he managed to break free! Luckily Ryne Olson who was officiating at the checkpoint was there to catch him before he started socialising with the other teams.

We expect this next leg to take around 5-6 hours so Aliy and Chris will be in during the wee small hours. We can expect Wes and his team to finish around 3.30-4.30am and everyone will go straight to bed so I will get some details from him tomorrow.

We also have more pics from the start to share when we get a chance to catch up. Two Rivers Lodge and Pleasant Valley Store checkpoints are all during darkness hours so we have limited photo ops.

EDIT: DROPPED DOG UPDATE - The team has just let me know that Wes has just officially dropped Nacho from the team so he won't be leaving with them for the final leg. He has a bit of a sore shoulder and just needs some rest and massage (which he will enjoy!!). It's not a major injury but Wes didn't want him to injure it further on this 55 mile run.

Two Rivers Start Pics and Video

Chatanika Lodge car park was alive with dogs and people this morning from about 9am as mushers arrived for pre-race vet checks, mushers meeting and their pre-race routines.

Chatanika Lodge

We got all three teams off on time and looking great. Aliy was keen to get going and excited to see some new trails as well as the familiar trails closer to home.

Aliy chats to Race Manager Sebastian Schnuelle

Red team their way

Chris was very clam and well organised and set off with no fuss.

Chris getting ready

R&B200 Team are on the trail!

Wes was asked if he was nervous and he paraphrased comedian Tracey Morgan when he said "Nervous is when you can't wait for it to end, excited is when you can't wait for it to start. I am more at the excited end than the nervous end"

Wes has his mandatory gear checked by a race official

And they're off!

Here is the start video of all three teams.

Two Rivers Update

Aliy and the Red Team are in to Two Rivers Lodge at 4.36pm making her run time over the 50 mile leg 4 hours 22 minutes. She said all is okay; she had a major tangle along the way that took some time to untangle. She was on an icy stretch of road at the time to add a complication! But they carried on none the worse for wear.

The race rules have each musher in the two hundred mile race taking 10 hours spread out over the three checkpoints (in half hour increments) so you will see different run/rest strategies emerge throughout the race. Teams that take less rest here may look to be way ahead but they will need to make up that rest later in the race. The time differential, that makes up for the difference in starting times, is served at the Pleasant Valley Store checkpoint.

At this point we are unsure how long Aliy and her team will stay at Two Rivers. We'll keep you updated

Two Rivers Lodge

We are awaiting Chris and Wes - they will be a wee way off yet as Chris started as the last musher in the 200 and Wes was 3rd last of the 100s.

The TRDMA website has a leaderboard with checkpoint in and out times so you can follow along.

I am working on some videos and photos from the start so watch this space! More updates soon as we get information.

Chica Wins Fan Club Draw

Congratulations to Becky Pacas who has won this week's draw. Becky is a fan of CHICA.

Chica, like all of us, is getting older. Can you believe it? She’s 9?! She is back in harness and still loves to zip down the trail. We don’t know what exactly we’ll expect from her or her siblings this season. Today Chica is running in the Two Rivers 100 with the youngest five of her kids, which is very exciting on both counts!

All we can say is... Chica is a Super Star!

As today we have three teams running in the Two Rivers 100/200 Becky's packet will include some TRDMA merchandise and other kennel goodies.

The first Yukon Quest themed fan club draw is will be 5 February and the winner will get a Yukon Quest poster signed by both Aliy and Allen along with a few other kennel goodies. If you haven't already won this season or if you are a new member your name will be in the next draw. NOTE: you can win more than once if you are a fan of more than one dog!

Click the button below for instructions on how to join:

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

Two Rivers 100/200 Race Rosters

Wes and the "Red & Black 100" youngsters drew bib number 8 (actually 38 but the bibs start at 30 for the 100 miles) and will head out at 1.14pm. He will be running 11 dogs. His team is a combination of the most experienced and the least experienced dogs in the yard! Quito and Olivia will lead out with Chica and Boondocks in swing, Nacho and Biscuit then Ernie, Five, Rodney, Ginger and Scooby.

Can you believe these little ones are ready to race? Biscuit is the most experienced of all!

Chris drew bib number 27 and his "Red & Black 200" team will leave the start chute at 12.52pm. His team will be led out by Lester and Chena, Chemo and Woody in swing, Wedgy and Coal, Hotshot and Daisy, Pepe and Violet with Amber and Cayenne in wheel.

Lester and Chena lead the R&B200 Team

Aliy and the Red Team have bib 8 and will leave at 12.14pm. Dutch and Izzy will lead out followed by Spark and Commando, Lydia and Mac, Sissy and Nomex, Chipper and Iron, Champ and Sandy (configuration may change a little).

Izzy and Dutch lead the Red Team

See the Race Roster page for more details about each athlete.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Two Rivers 100/200 Preview

Tomorrow SP Kennel has teams entered in both the The Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association Two Rivers 100 and 200 mile races.

We normally don't get to race this one as it generally clashes with the Iditarod so this year we are excited to race it! We have great trails here in Two Rivers and the committee have worked hard to put this race on.

Wes will be taking a team of yearlings and some (very) experienced adults in the 100 mile race. This will be two approx 50 mile legs with a long rest in between. The race starts at the Chatanika Lodge with a four hour mandatory stop at Two Rivers Lodge then finishing at the Pleasant Valley Store. Wes has been training the team all season to be ready for their first foray into racing so we are excited to see them strut their stuff!

This is also the first race back for Olivia and Quito since they had their puppies earlier in the season so this is a big deal for them also. Wes will intentionally run this race at a slower pace than the leading bunch and will stop often to rest and snack and make it a happy, positive experience for them all.

Ernie, Rodney, Ginger, Scooby (back) about to set off on a training run; Five is excited for his first race

The 200 mile race also starts at Chatanika Lodge with checkpoints at the Two Rivers Lodge, Pleasant Valley Store and Angel Creek Lodge, finishing back at the Store. Chris will take a team of mostly two and three year olds with some experience to back them up. This will be a good run for these dogs as some will be in contention to make Aliy's Yukon Quest 300 team.

Chris takes a team on their final stretch out (this team is not finalised so may be mixed around a bit)

Aliy will also take a bunch of youngsters, potential Quest 300 dogs and a few possible Quest 1000 dogs that need just a few more miles on them. Most of the Yukon Quest tagged dogs will sit this one out as a "sprint" 100 or 200 mile race is not in their training plan. Allen's focus will be to continue building up their endurance and strength to switch gears into 1000 mile mode.

Handling for the crew will be Wendy, Padee and Mark.

We are still finalising the make-up of the teams so will let you know race rosters and bib numbers in the morning.

Keep an eye on the TRDMA Facebook page for race updates!

It Takes a Village

Along with everything else going on at the kennel this week, the major matter of Yukon Quest 1000 and 300 drop bags had to be attended to!

Each time we run a race we do a "debrief" about not only the dogs and the race plan but also logistics including handling, travelling and drop bags. We took the plan from 2014 (the last time the race started in Fairbanks), made some tweaks identified in the debrief, then with the help of lots of good friends and neighbors, we packed the bags ready to be dropped off on Saturday afternoon. It is a major undertaking.

The drop bags include:
  • 6-8lb packs of two different kinds of kibble
  • packs of 14 (12 for YQ300) meat snacks including salmon, turkey skins, beef and tripe (yummy)
  • packs of 14 (12 for YQ30) booties
  • extra dog jackets and blankets (extra to what Allen and Aliy will be carrying with them in case they get damp)
  • packs of vet supplies to refresh the kit in the sled including Algyval, foot ointment and vet-wrap
  • human food including freeze-dried meals, oatmeal bars, nuts, bacon and some "proper" seam-sealed meals to drop in the cook pot
  • sled runner plastics
  • spare equipment and clothing for dogs and humans (and anything else they might need along the way!)

We then have to do an inventory of each bag so the ones that have to cross the border over into Canada can get through Customs smoothly.

Sincere thanks to the whole team who have been working hard to get these done, along with Two Rivers 100/200 preparation this week!! We couldn't have done it without you. Y'all free again next week for Iditarod bags???

Labelling comes first; Wendy is the Booty Queen!

Chris cuts salmon into snack sized slices; Madi crumbles turkey skins for use as a meal additive

Mykena bags salmon and Padee bags beef for snacks along the trail

Tami bags kibble for meals; Wes has kibble ready for meal time

Moira makes more oatmeal bars than you can shake a stick at; Allen packs it all in