Tuesday, January 31, 2017

YQ1000: Vet Checks

Friday morning we took 21 dogs to kennel sponsor North Pole Veterinary Hospital for their Yukon Quest pre-race examinations. Because Allen is a veteran racer he is able to have vet checks done privately.

Dr Dawn Brown, who herself races sprint dogs, with the help of vet assistant Mara, thoroughly checked out our athletes from top to toe.

Spark gets checked while Commando waits patiently, "What are you writing Moira?", "I'm totally the best one aren't I?"

The checks include:
  • reading and recording microchips to ensure the right dogs are included on the team and so they can easily be identified by vets who may not necessarily know one dog from the next
  • examining dental and gums. They note the colour of the gums which can be an indicator of illness.
  • checking that eyes, ears and lymph glands and 'personal areas' are normal
  • recording weight, temperature, heart rate and respiration rate and checking for any abnormalities
  • testing range of motion in front and back legs and wrists to check for any soreness
  • examining skin and feet, noting if there are any abrasions or bootie rubs etc to be treated before the race
  • fixing an overall body score out of 9 (those of you with pets may have seen this chart on your vet's noticeboard where 1 is too skinny and 9 is too big).
  • ensuring vaccinations for rabies, parvovirus, distemper and bordatella are up-to-date and documented
  • they also note for any medications the dog may be on, and how recently, to ensure no banned substances have been ingested. Note: the dogs are drug tested throughout the race also.
For more information you can check out the Yukon Quest website.

A number of our dogs have quite a history with North Pole Vet - the "Five" litter were cared for there when they were a few days old, Ginger later had surgery there, Outlaw and Clyde were born by cesarian section there and Mac had his salivary gland surgery there. Thanks to the North Pole team for being part of our team!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Two Rivers 100: "Aliy Cam"

Aliy took some "Aliy Cam" during the first leg of the Two Rivers 100. We thought you might enjoy it!

NL300: Congratulations R&Bs

Chris and his Red & Black Team have finished the Northern Lights 300! Good job team!

Schmoe and Scout led the team over the line and Steve managed to catch this quick snap of them. All the dogs have had a meal and are now in the dog truck having a nap, as is Chris.

The tracker information tells us that they did indeed stop for a couple hours enroute to the finish. My very rough "back of an envelope" calculation has them resting almost half of their total time. At this stage we are unsure of official times or their finishing position.

We are very excited to learn more about the race on their return home later this evening.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

NL300: Final Leg and Returned Dog Update

Chris and 11 team mates are on the final leg of the Northern Lights 300! They checked out of Yentna at 5.06pm after just over 6.5 hours rest; with 72 miles until the finish line. As mentioned in the previous update, his conservative version of the race plan has the team resting part way through this final leg depending on the trail conditions and how he feels the dogs are doing.

We expect them to finish in the early hours of the morning. We're excited for them to cross the line.


McCaw was the dog that Chris left behind at Yentna on the way out. He developed a sore shoulder and as he is a BIG BIG dog Chris wouldn't have wanted to carry him!

Chris left QT in Yentna on the way home and she is already back with Steve in Big Lake. She developed a sore wrist in the previous leg and Chris felt it was better to fly her home to rest.

The both have had quite an adventure, getting to hang out at the checkpoint with all the volunteers and vet team then fly in a small plane back to Big Lake. They will have some stories to tell their team mates when they see each other at the finish line! Steve said they are both quite happy and have been reunited with Decaf at Matt Failor's kennel this evening.

McCaw and QT caught the plane home

*Edit: updated with official information

NL300: Sunday Morning Update

We are very excited to see that Chris and the R&Bs are into the final checkpoint of Yentna! They pulled in at 10.27 this morning and they have a mandatory six hour rest stop here so can leave at 4.27pm at the earliest. He still has 12 athletes with him at this stage.

The conservative version of the race plan from here has the team resting during the final leg so, again, don't be alarmed if you see the tracker stationary for a few hours. Chris will assess the team and the trail conditions and make the call whether to stop.

We heard from Steve earlier this morning and he said there is no new snow overnight in Willow and it is about 11 degrees. Denali cleared from the cloud cover to treat everyone to a glimpse.

Steve and Decaf have become good buddies in the few days they have had together!

Officials are hoping to fly the returned dogs back to Willow today so we will let you know once we hear more.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

NL300: Into Talvista

Chris and the R&Bs pulled into Talvista, the second checkpoint, earlier this afternoon. They will rest there for a few hours.

The trackleaders.com trackers give us loads of great information to see what's going on. In the view below you can see when, and for how long, the team stops in checkpoints or at their camp spot. You'll see they camped for around three hours then their next stop was at Yentna checkpoint for the mandatory six hours plus time differential (the extra time lower bib numbers take to correct for the staggered start). The little 'dips' in the tracker are likely to be when he stopped the team to snack or replace a bootie or something and the tracker updated right at that moment.

The next leg is an out-and-back loop up Skwentna River and return to Talvista checkpoint where, as I understand it, the teams can use their same campspot and straw.

We can see from the race standings that he left Yentna with 12 dogs. At this stage we have no idea who he left behind as we have no way to communicate with Chris. We will find out once whoever it is returns to Big Lake for Steve to pick up. Until then we ask for your patience as we await further information. We've heard from Steve that they have had about four inches of snow there and are unlikely to be able to fly the dogs back today but they will be well cared for at the checkpoint by the vet team and volunteers. We will let you know more as soon as we can.

How's that refresh finger - getting into shape for the Quest and Iditarod?

Friday, January 27, 2017

NL300: Start Video and Update

Chris and his R&B Team left the start chute at 11.36 this morning.

L-R: Final line-up; the rowdy end; Waylon says "I got this Steve"

The final line up to start was Scout and Waylon leading, Woody and Sanka in swing, then Bean and Schmoe, Willie and QT, Creamer and Bruno, McCaw is running on his own then Perky and Barisa in wheel.

Unfortunately, he left without Decaf because somehow, sometime between vet checks and the start line Decaf knocked one of his back legs enough to cause some swelling and Chris didn't want to risk aggravating anything by taking him. Decaf will rest for a few days with Steve in Big Lake.

Steve caught this video of them leaving the truck towards the start-line.

If you are having trouble viewing the video hit the "pop out" symbol on the upper right to watch via google drive

You will see in the video, on top of Chris's sled bag is a bag of straw. Chris and the team will be running a VERY conservative race schedule taking much more rest than is required and breaking some of the longer runs into two with some camps in between. This will give everyone the best chance to get to the finish line and also be great practice for the youngsters to spend time in checkpoints and out camping. Don't be alarmed if you see the tracker stop in the middle of the runs, he plans to stop often!

The trackers are up and running so click here to check it out - they are number #19. Also keep an eye on the Northern Lights website and Facebook page for updates.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

NL300: Race Roster and Update

As alluded to in our earlier post, Chris has a very young team with him for the Northern Lights 300, along with a few of the older guard. He will decide on the actual line up on Friday morning but for your info, here is who he has with him:

Woody, Schmoe, Willie, Waylon and Scout will show the ropes to nine yearlings: Sanka, Bean, Creamer, Bruno, QT, McCaw, Barista, Perky and Decaf. Click here for more information about each athlete.

Creamer and Sanka make the team

He has four great leaders, plus excellent team dog Willie, and will be able to rotate some of the youngsters up front during the race. They will learn a great deal over the weekend and really come-of-age.

Steve Parker, Chris' dad, will be handling for the team and hopefully will be able to send us through some details - depending on cell coverage.

Yesterday everyone passed their vet check then Chris and Steve dropped off the checkpoint drop bags for delivery to the checkpoints. Today (Thursday) is for final preparation and rest before the race starts at 11am on Friday.

They are staying at Matt Failor's kennel in Big Lake and he was kind enough to clear some space for a temporary home for our athletes. Thanks so much Matt, we appreciate it!

Temporary lodgings in Big Lake

Note: It was a difficult task to narrow down the yearlings to take as Chris needed to take some experience with him leaving only so many slots for the youngsters. Those left behind are Dancer, Chevie and Jefe. These three were some of the most advanced yearlings earlier in the season and they went on a number of longer runs and trained well. This, combined with the cold temperatures last week, unfortunately took a little weight off them as can tend to happen with youngsters, and we felt they needed more time to get back into condition before embarking on a 300 mile adventure. They will continue to train while their siblings are away.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Rivers 200: Red & Black Team Wrap-Up

Ruth had an interesting mix of dogs with her on the Two Rivers 200 ranging in age from yearlings Bean and Sanka to veteran Olivia at nine years old. She started with just nine dogs: Chena, Chemo, Olivia, Schmoe, Five, Bean, Sanka, Hotshot and Iron.

Photo: Julien Schroder

Chena did very well and is a very talented leader. Sometimes, however, she can be too smart for her own good. At the intersection of the slough trail and baseline, where we would normally take a HAW to go home, the route called for a GEE and it took some time convincing Chena that Ruth knew where she was going.

Chemo was typically Chemo, he was eager to please and worked steadily but he got a little sore in his front end and Ruth left him at Angel Creek checkpoint. This left her team underpowered for the hills in the final leg.

Olivia is an absolute legend. She will work and work then when it is time to rest she will settle in quickly and make the most of her down time. She is certainly a matriarch of the kennel and has proven herself time and time again.

Schmoe never let up and he didn't feel he needed to camp! He was ready to continue on for as long as you needed.

Five is so strong and hard working, he will be an important dog next season! He also had some mental issues at the GEE on baseline; he was convinced Ruth was wrong and protested about turning right. He got sore during the second leg so Ruth left him at the Pleasant Valley Store checkpoint. He is already back into training now and looking good!

Bean did great! She has a lot of energy, enthusiasm and will be a future leader.

Sanka is a bit more timid and understated than Bean but will be one of our future leaders and she certainly proved herself this race.

It is great to see Hotshot out on the race trail this season. He hasn't had much chance but this year has seen him race a little more. He tries far too hard at the beginning of each run which leads him to tire a bit more than the others and he was not able to contribute fully in the latter half of the hills because of that.

Iron didn't even know what happened! He was ready to race 200, 300 or 1000 miles or follow the snow machine anywhere you wanted to go. He's a good boy!

In the final leg Ruth had just seven dogs left to get her up some serious hills and no longer had two of her powerhouses Five and Chemo. She, herself worked extremely hard, helping the team by running alongside the sled. After camping and a meal it was decided it was just too much for everyone to continue and remain a positive experience.

Aliy took a snow machine up the hills and brought the team out. She attached the sled to the back of the snow machine and Ruth rode the sled with the dogs happily trotting along behind them all the way to the waiting dog truck (except Schmoe who is, honestly, still a little wary of snow machines so he hung back from the pack, always within sight). It certainly was an adventure for them all!

R&B camp spot

Yukon Quest Checkpoint Drop Bags

Just to add another thing to the "to do" list over the last couple of weeks, the Yukon Quest Drop Bags were due on Saturday, January 21st.

Volunteers sorting drop bags for Yukon Quest 1000 and 300 mushers

The whole team worked really hard between Copper Basin and Saturday to get the bags finalised with dog kibble, meat and fat snacks, human meals and snacks plus spare dog jackets and harnesses, booties for Africa*, kits to replenish vet supplies, and other important bits and pieces for dogs, humans and sleds.

We then took both sets of bags into town for the enthusiastic volunteers to swoop in and lift them off the trailer, sort into the different checkpoints and check off against our master list in no time flat. Thanks team. There was a concurrent event happening in Whitehorse for the mushers closer to that end of the trail.

The bags will then be transported throughout the trail by the logistics team and be at the checkpoints waiting for the mushers as they pull in.

*Edit - it has become clear that "booties for Africa" is not a common saying here. Perhaps I should explain... "booties for Africa" simply means a LOT of booties (enough for all of Africa because Africa is so big). Apologies to anyone who was offended or confused. Those kiwi-isms catch me out now and again - Moira

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Northern Lights 300

The Northern Lights 300 is on this weekend and, for the first time in kennel history, SP Kennel is fielding a team. Chris will be taking a very young Red and Black (R&B) Team on this adventure.

The race starts at Martin Buser's Happy Trails Kennel in Big Lake on FRIDAY* at 11am. The route is an "out and back" to the Finger Lake checkpoint, one of the Iditarod checkpoints. The route is Happy Trails Kennels (HTK) to Yentna Station (75 miles), Yentna Station to Talvista Lodge (45 miles), Talvista Lodge to loop up Skwentna River and back to Talvista Lodge (50 miles), Talvista Lodge to Yentna Station (45 miles), Yentna Station to HTK (75 miles).

There is a mandatory 6 hour layover (+ start differential) at Yentna #1 (outbound) and a mandatory 6 hour layover at Yentna #2 (inbound). An additional 6 hours of layovers must be completed prior to leaving Yentna Station inbound for a total of 18 hours.

From the race website: "The Northern Lights 300 Sled Dog Race (NL 300) is organized and managed by volunteers and is recognized by both Iditarod and Yukon Quest as a qualifying race. The race is designed to test mushers’ preparedness, endurance and skills in a remote, wilderness setting. The race assesses their ability to care for themselves and their dogs, and complete a challenging course in a competitive manner. The NL 300 relies on musher camaraderie, volunteerism, and excellence in dog care; promoting the sport of distance mushing in South Central Alaska."

We're very excited to add this race to his team's resume!

To follow along we will be watching the race website and Facebook page.

We'll post the race roster shortly - expect to see a lot of youngsters!

(*edit: originally said it started Saturday)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Two Rivers 100 Red Team Wrap-Up

Lydia - I love this little dog. She's smart, one of the smartest dogs in the yard for sure, with the most drive. But, in saying that sometimes she drives a little too hard and in this race she drove too hard down hill and tweaked her shoulder. She just needs some time off to rest. She loves to pass other teams, absolutely LOVES it!

Junior is her bigger sister and has almost as much drive as Lydia but with longer legs, so perhaps that makes up for it. Junior is more tentative passing other teams but she loves to fly and she sure set the pace on the second 50 mile leg and won us the race.

Photo Julien Schroder

Daisy ran in swing the first 50 but after dropping Lydia I thought: "what the heck, she's my new leader" and obviously winning her first race in lead is a comment to her talents. She runs hard with her nose about quarter inch off the ground so I worry about her trying too hard but she did great.

Amber is finally stockier and has filled out, that's made her a stronger dog which we are excited about. She also has learned a new gait which is basically 'put your head down and trot with a lot of power' and that's probably from the Copper Basin. So, despite the fact she is a small dog, she really helped up all the hills in the 100 mile race.

Scooter! I just love saying her name, that's probably why I wanted to bring her ;-). She was happy for 100 miles and for 7 years has really tried her hardest, and she did so again in this race. She's just a fun dog to have on the team.

I love Spark, in this race I basically gave him some mental time off. He felt a lot of pressure in the Copper Basin as the quarter-back and in this race all he had to do was boogie down the trail. He did so with gumption and I was pleased to see him enjoy himself.

I ran Champ and Nomex together because 2 1/2 years ago they had a little quarrel so it entertains me to run them together now and see how well they get on. Nomex has really held together physically which is always my worry for him but he seems to have it figured out. He’s very sincere in what he does and he always needs you to know that he's doing his best. So, I was always very vocally appreciative of his efforts on this race.

Champ loves himself - he doesn’t necessarily need the coddling but he'll take it if you give it to him. He just has the perfect body to be the powerhouse that he is so its really fun to see that 2+2=4 with him because that doesn't happen all the time in the real world. I think he really had a positive happy run especially because of how hard he ran in the Copper Basin.

Rodney - I'm amazed at the transformation that Rodney has gone through in one year. It was this race last year that young, loud, obnoxious Rodney got loose and ran around the sleeping area and no one could catch him. This year he's a veteran racing dog who has won his first race. Very impressive.

Outlaw - I was worried about Outlaw after Copper Basin; turns out I didn't need to be. He did enjoy the cooler temperatures and that dog sure can eat some snow but the 20 below night on the river he sure shined. He still can be one of our best dogs.

I was very impressed about Scooby, I have never raced him but he’s a hard worker eats like a fool and actually rested fairly well so it's not too long until he’ll be on the main squad. Come to think of it, he won this race!

QT's first race, first win! She had a few yearling mistakes where she jumped off the side of the trail to take a break when the team was still churning at 10 miles an hour. She didn’t rest well in between Rodney and Scooby, perhaps they were a bit intimating for a little brown dog but overall I'm so excited about the future of QT and her siblings.

Thanks Wes, Padee, Steve and Mark for your help over the weekend.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Two Rivers Prizegiving

Congratulations to all the place getters, prizewinners and finishers in the Two Rivers 200 and 100!

Tonight was the finish banquet and prize giving at the Two Rivers Lodge and it was a fun evening where all the competitors got to catch up with each other and share trail stories.

Aliy was awarded the Veterinarian's Choice award for the TR100 - thanks to Chena Ridge Veterinary Clinic for donating the prize and for being official vets for the race.

For taking first place, Aliy was also awarded a beautiful Qiviut (musk ox wool) hat made and donated by Nicolle Hendrix - who also happens to be dog sponsor to our Chevie! Thanks Nicolle, it is a truly gorgeous piece.

Special thanks also to all the sponsors of the race and to the checkpoint hosts Chatanika Lodge, Two Rivers Lodge, Pleasant Valley Store and Angel Creek Lodge. If you are ever in the area make sure you stop by any or all of these local businesses.

The race could not have happened without the Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association, especially President Stacy, Trail Boss Abbey, Race Marshall Sebastian and Race Judge Darren. Thanks also to the many many volunteers who made the staging of the race possible.

Two Rivers 100 Red & Black Team Wrap-Up

Waylon doesn't look like much but he is tough, intelligent, strong and dedicated. Losing a toe over the summer didn't even slow him down and he was still barking to go at the last checkpoint.

Quito is the best dog in the world even at 10 1/2 years old, it is always a pleasure to be around her and run with her.

Violet is sweet, cuddly, fast and relentless. I haven't been able to work with her nearly enough this year because Aliy and Allen are always running her.

At the start line - do you think Sandy is ready?

Don't let Sandy's looks fool you. She is a great little dog about half the size of her bothers Driver and Woody but doesn't lack anything in strength drive and speed. (I was going to correct that typo but it seems fitting to keep it as it is - Moira)

Woody is still my boy. He came up with a bit of a sore paw so I dropped him off with Wes at the Two Rivers Lodge just because I didn't want it to get any worse. He is still excited and I hope he joins me on many future runs.

Willie hasn't had much a chance to run this year but I was really happy to have him on my team. He was still happy and wagging his tail when we got the finish line and could have done another 100 miles.

Bruno is STRONG! He amazed me this race because he never once felt sorry for himself or thought about slowing down. He still has to learn how to poop on the run but that will come with time.

Barista is a hard driving little dog. Since the time she was a puppy she has been a little bulldozer always running off into he deep snow and pushing so fast that her brothers and sisters couldn't even catch up with her.

McCaw is turning into an impressive dog. He's one of the biggest dogs in the yard and has strength to match. And although right now he as some problems keeping his mind on the trail and the task at hand, he was very important asset in this team.

Creamer was behind on miles because of an issue earlier in the year so I planned before the race even started to drop her at the Two Rivers Lodge. But, when we got there she was still strong and happy and wanted to continue. I wanted to make it a positive experience for her so I dropped her off anyways but I believe she could have finished the race with me and down well the whole time.

Decaf and Perky - these two brothers have an unbelievable amount of energy. They're loud, excited and they drive really hard. Perky is a little more focussed when we are running but they both have a lot of potential and power.

CB300: Red & Black Team Wrap-up

Let's just dip back into the Copper Basin 300 for a minute as Chris gives his dog by dog wrap up of their race.

Photo Julien Schroder - Arctic-mood.com

Scout led the charge for most of the race. He's nine years old but he hasn't let anything slow him down. He is smart, strong, dedicated and always ready to go.

Woody led for a good portion of the race; he is very strong, very motivated. I have a really close relationship with him after working on the glacier and he definitely held up his end as my number one dog.

Tried and true Olivia rotated through lead also. She hasn't let three litters of puppies slow her down one little bit. (Photo left: Katie Hope)

Scruggs is the toughest dog I know. He was a really important part of the front end of my team, motivating all the younger dogs as we marched through deep punchy snow.

Chena's my girl! Whenever we aren't moving she looks contemplative, morose and not really all that excited but as soon as we start moving she gets a big smile on her face and doesn't let up. She also rotated through lead.

Out of the starting chute

I was so excited to have Nelson as a last minute addition to my team after Aliy took Scooter for her team. He has so much energy and experience and just loves to run.

Five made a really strong showing in his first major race. He was always looking at me wondering if we were going to keep going and I would always tell him 'yes' so he would put his head down and he would pull up the next hill.

If there is one word to describe Ginger (right) it is smooth. She has such an effortless gait and is always tight on the tugline no matter what.

Ernie ran wheel for the entire race which is not an easy position but he did an amazing job. While he isn't as big as his brothers he definitely makes up for it with strength and enthusiasm.

Outlaw was my other wheel dog and he was impressive. He pulled his heart out the entire race; didn't even think about letting the line go slack. I don't think I could have made it as far as I could without him.

Out of Meiers Lake Lodge checkpoint

Hotshot has improved by leaps and bounds this season. He is incredibly strong and while he is not the fastest dog he is always ready to pull up a hill, get me out of a rut or put his head down and keep driving forward.

Cayenne kept trying even when she got in over her head. She made it to the third checkpoint and although she wasn't always pulling she never dragged the team down or thought about quitting.

This race was one of the hardest things I've ever done and scratching was even harder than running the 220 miles beforehand. The trail was incredibly difficult and some of my younger dogs were working harder than they have ever had to work before and I finally decided that it would be better for them to end early than try to drag them to the finish line.

Thanks Wes for being a great handler and to all the volunteers and organizers who helped make the race a reality.

Two Rivers 200: Red & Black Team Update Sunday

Ruth and the Red and Black 200 Team scratched from the Two Rivers 200 earlier this morning.

Allen and Aliy went to pick them up not far from where our teams camp during training runs. I'm not certain of all the details at this point but I know everyone is okay. As I understand it, Ruth felt that continuing on the final 30 miles would turn the fun and positive experience they'd had up until that point into a negative one especially for the youngsters. She officially scratched at Angel Creek Lodge checkpoint (the last checkpoint she was at).

We'll get all the dogs and Ruth home, get another meal into them (Ruth will have given them a good meal at her camp spot) and get everyone to their beds.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Two Rivers 200 - Red & Black Team Update

Ruth and seven of her Red and Black Team mates left Angel Creek Lodge checkpoint around 7.30pm on the final leg of the Two Rivers 200. They are heading towards the Pleasant Valley Store to finish sometime early Sunday morning. She and the team were excited to hit the trail again and are in good spirits.

It is likely she will stop the team to camp/rest along the way. The final leg is around 60 miles and Ruth's main goal for the race was to get as many of the team to the finish line having had as positive experience as possible. Stopping to rest in the last leg will make it so.

She started the race with just nine team mates and left Five with Padee at the Pleasant Valley Store checkpoint, he was just a bit too tired to continue as he's worked so hard through the hills of the first leg. Chemo did the final leg of the race in the truck, he's a little sore after his big week and didn't need to continue the race.

We'll update when we can in the morning.

Two Rivers 200/100 Start Video

Enjoy some pre-race atmosphere and see all three teams leaving the start chute in the Two Rives 200 and 100.

Red Team Wins Two Rivers 100!

Woohoo! Congrats Aliy and her Red Team for their win in the Two Rivers 100 overnight with a time of 14 hours 3 minutes!

Red Team on the trail!

Chris and his Red & Black Team finished in 5th place with 14 hours, 47 minutes. That's an awesome result for those yearlings!

Red & Black 100 Team ready to go

Thanks to handler extrodinaire Wes with support from Steve Parker, Padee and Mark. Thanks Team!

Aliy with Chris at the start line; Aliy and Wes

We will get more details once everyone is back at the kennel.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dutch Wins Fan Club Draw

Congrats to Jack Johnston who is a fan of DUTCH.

Dutch is a sassy pants. His super successful past season has improved his confidence. There is nothing that he can't do. This transformation is awesome because he believes in himself as much as we do now. He will run in lead, swing, team or anywhere we put him. He is sitting out the Two Rivers race in anticipation of potentially making Allen's Yukon Quest team early next month.

Jack wins a Two Rivers 200/100 poster plus a photo print portrait of Dutch. We hope you enjoy your packet Jack!

We will be doing a Dog Fan Club draw Friday, February 3rd from Whitehorse. Everyone who has joined by then and hasn't already won will be in the draw to win!

Click the button below for more information about how to join:

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

Two Rivers 200/100 Today!

We love racing in our local Two Rivers races. We're fielding two teams in the TR100 and one in the TR200. The race starts today (Friday) at noon up at the Chatanika Lodge. SP Kennel's entire kennel philosophy can be seen in these race rosters. Each team is looking to have 'success' in their own race. Let's have some FUN out there!

Ruth will run the Red & Black 200 (R&B200) team in the 200 mile race while Aliy will run the Red Team and Chris a young Red & Black 100 (R&B100) Team in the 100 mile race.

The trails are mostly familiar and the checkpoints are local. The race started out at Chatanika Lodge with the first checkpoint at the Two Rivers Lodge, then a stop at the Pleasant Valley Store. The 100 mile race finishes there. The 200 mile competitors will then go out to Angel Creek Lodge and return back to the Pleasant Valley Store.

Ruth will be wearing bib number 14 and her team for the 200 mile race is Chena, Chemo, Olivia, Schmoe, Five, Bean, Sanka, Hotshot and Iron.

Ruth with her bib, Chris and his Dad Steve who is up to support the race

Chris is wearing number 4 and will run Waylon, Quito, Violet, Willie, Woody, Sandy, Bruno, Barista, Creamer, Decaf, Perky and McCaw 100 miles.

You will see a lot of yearlings on those teams so both Ruth and Chris will be running to give them experience, not to try to win the race.

Aliy, wearing bib number 3, has Amber, Junior, Lydia, Daisy, Nomex, Champ, Spark, Rodney, Scooter, Outlaw Scooby and QT. This is a 'combo-team' with some experienced and one yearling rookie. Aliy would like to speed some of the dogs up after the Copper Basin 300 march, but mainly have some fun.

Check out the full rosters here!

The Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association Facebook page and website has more details and will update during the race.

It's going to be a fun weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

CB300: Video Wrap Up

To close the 2017 Copper Basin 300 chapter, here are the team videos!

Black Team leaving the start chute, into Sourdough and crossing the finish line.

The Red Team leaving the start chute and crossing the finish line. Watch for Spark at the start line.

The R&B Team leaving the start chute.


CB300: Red Team Wrap-Up

Here’s Aliy’s wrap up of her CB300 team.

Chemo is a perfect dog for this team. He was happy and confident to be in lead and he would go fast when the trail allowed yet slow and steady pace when the trail got really challenging. He is not a high maintenance dog. Also, he was really good with Spark; he put up with Spark’s goofy antics and was Mr Cool the whole way.

I really wanted this to be Spark’s moment as a lead dog, his time to prove himself. He was “the man” but Chemo held his hand up there. Everyone loves Spark because he is sincere and happy. He is somewhat emotional, sometimes his tail is wagging and other times he doubts himself. He is much like his Uncle Beemer in that respect, where you have to be positive around him all the time or he starts to doubt himself.

I had two cheerleading swing dogs who were ready to spur team on. Lydia probably has the most drive on the team. She would bark and lunge in the air when we stopped - a cranky bark “hey whats going on!”

Amber is a little more physically powerful. She is usually a loper but she sure got down and ground into a trot into this race. Both talented leaders but didn't put them up these simply because of the snow conditions.

Violet and Nomex were together for much of the time. Violet is very vocal, she starts screaming, literally, when we either go too slow or up a hill - and there were some hills so there was some screaming going on. She's a tough little munchkin. She has lightly longer legs that her sisters and she was solid gold on this race.

Nomex has a nice looking butt! Great muscles. He has an ugly gait but he is always 100 percent. He’s a sweetheart: when putting booties on either him or his running mate he always tries to french kiss you, especially if cameras are taking pictures! It was good that he had a hard race and got to the finish line. It was neat to have a lot of the Fire litter on the team

Sissy and Scooter: Scooter, phew, 100 percent kicked butt! She has not lost any of her energy for eating, running and yelling and is pretty much the same dog as she was as a two year old. It is nice to see her physically holding together, because in the past, as she has so much excess energy, she doesn’t always look where she’s going and can hurt herself. She is enjoyable to have in the team except when she's yelling in your ear.

Sissy was just as strong except through musher error was carried for 25 miles. At beginning of the race with all the teams two minutes apart it is hard to stop because you will be in someones way. If you see you have a dog you think needs to be carried, often you put it into sled quickly so you don't mess up anyone else. Once Sissy was in sled I saw the problem was snow in the booty but I kept her in there just in case. At the checkpoint I got her out, she had a rest, and I walked her round to find nothing wrong. I gambled and decided to take her and she was perfect for next two legs except for last five miles was just not Sissy-ish and a little stiff. Did very well up to that point.

Driver is a nice dog. He's not fast but he tries really really hard all the time. He will never be a fast dog but he's honest and a go-getter. He tends to eats really sloooooowly which was a problem when I ran him with Clyde - Clyde ate his food and got the poops. He was doing so well until about 30 miles left of race when he stepped into a hole and hurt his wrist. I carried him over the line and he laid in there pretty well. He's a sweet guy, not super smart but sweet.

Clyde is a pretty cool dog. He is very polite, apart from eating Driver's food. The funniest part of the race was that he ate two meals every time (don't worry, I gave Driver a second helping). Clyde got the runs a little just because he ate so much. He was great, very steady and he slept well, and was a good, solid dog! It was not a hard race for him.

I had Iron in the back. He did really well and he's agile so I like him in wheel position. He didn’t really eat as well as I wanted him to but he picked up later in the race. Like his brother Driver, he wants to please you. Iron is not really the brains of the operation but he has all good intentions and he has a nice athletic body. Driver big strong lug but Iron is a well built iron-man.

When I think of Sandy it’s a little like “Oh, its Sandy, she can do it.” I find I take her for granted as has her own special flair but is non-descript and not flamboyant. She’s just a little black dog with floppy ears who does her job and doesn’t make a lot of noise. She has the perfect gait, knows how to take care of herself and is a great little dog.

This team was very solid and sixth place in CB300 was great. We maybe could have been one or two places higher if the musher did not make errors! This dog team really performed spectacularly. There is a lot of dogs on that team that could not longer be considered 2nd string. They really stepped up!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CB300 Black Team Wrap-Up

In the truck on the way home from Glennallen I asked Allen about his team.

Lead dogs Kodiak and Commando - These are two of the best leaders that we have, among many that have gone before. I would put either of these two in lead in any race at any time. They both loped for the whole race and are a well matched pair. I couldn’t ask for any more out of those two.

Brother and sister Junior and Dutch ran in swing. They are two more excellent leaders, and could have been in lead at any time during the race. (I may say that about a lot about many dogs on this team, we have that many good leaders). This pair were energetic and happy.

Then came Mismo and Izzy - the two floppy eared goony dogs and another brother and sister combo. Mismo is one of the best dogs on the team because you can put him in any position, in lead, in team, even in single lead and he will know where to go when there’s no trail. When the going gets slow, like it did in this race for the final leg, he was pulling even harder when in lead. Izzy worked really well with Mismo when in lead they kept grinding away, even when we had to carry dogs in the bag.

Rodney and Champ - Rodney, tried so hard for so long that just near the end 5-6 miles he ran out of steam. Champ is talented and driven and his line is always tight. He runs very much like his Mother Nutmeg. These two will be main dogs very soon. It is easy to see that by how much energy they have, how much they like to eat and there was not a time when I got ready to go that they weren’t jumping ready to go. They had a few mental hurdles to get over as this was the longest and hardest race of their career but they got through it. It is exciting to see these traits in such youngsters.

Tinder and Daisy came next. Daisy likes left side and is almost obnoxious about it and pushes the other dog into the snow if they are on the left. Daisy hasn’t had much race experience as she missed the Iditarod last year but she is such high energy and when the going gets tough she bows her back and puts her nose to the ground pulling hard. This was her hardest race and she will be better for it.

Tinder is getting more and more more like his father Nacho. He has a half-lope gait and picks his legs up pretty high. We had no issues at all until I got the team up early in Mendeltna to stretch them out and noticed him favouring his leg. The vet said it was a good catch as there was no sign of it coming in to the checkpoint as he was warmed up. He was doing a fantastic job up until then.

Felix and Chipper ran in wheel. I like seeing Felix because its just like running Biscuit. He has the same gait and has filled out more as he has gotten older. Biscuit was best wheel/team dog we ever had so Felix is heading down the same trail.

Chipper is a fireball, just because she weighs 34 pounds don't let that fool you. She has more attitude than any 70 pounder. She pulled all the way to Tolsona but when I picked her leg up to put booties on to leave she squeaked. Her tricep was sore. We missed her in the last couple of legs.

I believe we had a winning team however musher judgement on how we ran the race was in error. In this race if you make one judgement error there is little chance to make a significant correction. In other years we ran a similar plan and won but in these conditions it was not appropriate to do. We paid for that error in the last 60 miles. The dogs are top notch and they wanted to win!

We all learned something from this. These dogs were as good as we've ever had and we need to help them achieve greatness.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

CB300: Final Catch Up

And you thought a lot happened in the first half of the race!

I will jump to the end first. Please excuse the wall of text, I haven’t got to the photos or videos yet.

As a kennel we are delighted with 4th and 6th positons. It was a tough race - it was the Copper Basin 300, “the Toughest 300 Miles in Alaska” so we always expect the unexpected. After every race Aliy and Allen strip the race down and take an honest look at all aspects and outcomes. This race is no different, Aliy and Allen are looking at why our dogs slowed down at the end. It isn’t just as simple as carrying a dog made them go 5 miles and hour. They will ask questions: How did the race / rest schedule work? What do we need to adjust if we ever have those trail / weather conditions again? Was the preparation appropriate? How could things be better? They ask these questions whatever the result - good or bad.

We are the first to admit it wasn't a perfect race for any of our teams for a number of reasons and they will spend time dissecting it all. 4th and 6th is fantastic and Chemo, Scout and Kodiak still believe they are the winners even though they were in three different teams!


So, let’s pick up where we left off - on the 70 mile trail from Meiers Lake to Tolsona then 60 miles on to Mendeltna. It seems like a lifetime ago!

The trail from Meiers Lake to Tolsana moves along the Alaska pipeline for a time then runs over Fish, Crosswind and Ewan lakes. At Tolsona we were much more sheltered from any wind that this checkpoint but the snow fell almost constantly.

The trail Tolsona to Mendeltna travels Tolsona, Moose and Louise later with BIG hills in between for 50-odd miles.

Mendeltna to the finish ran about 30 miles along the Richardson Highway - you can see the teams from the road and when Mark and I left we were able to see Aliy, Michelle, Paige, Allen then Ryne working hard next to the trail. One for the first rules of Fight Club - whoops - I mean “Handling” is to never never let the dog team see the dog truck until the finish line i.e. do not stop to take a picture else the team will think it’s time to get in the truck. It was hard to just drive by and try to ignore the fact your team is RIGHT THERE!

The run from Meiers Lake to Tolsona was the Black Team’s run. When Aliy got off the trail she said “that’s an Allen Moore trail” and it certainly turned out that way with their run time through that section. The trail was “punchy” (punching through the soft snow) with lots of hills. Allen said the team did great through there and he was pleased with his run.

Own arrival the team enjoyed their snacks and settled quickly. Allen again slept outside with his team, deciding to forgo the trek to the Fire House (where they had camp stretchers set up for mushers to rest). He left Chippy with us as she had a sore tricep and needed some massage and rest. She was a bit put out that she had to leave the team but seemed happy enough to get into the truck and eat a few fish snacks.

They got out on time after five hours in the checkpoint ready to head 50 miles to Mendeltna.

Allen was pleased with their run through to Mendeltna. They came in strong and everyone was running well. With just two hours rest at the checkpoint everything needed to be precisely timed if we were to get the team out on time. We worked backwards from the leaving time to ensure Allen was able to fit everything in. Once he got his arrival routine completed Allen came inside for something to eat (meat lasagna) and a nap. We counted backward to allow time to get a meal for the dogs, get them dressed and ready plus time to get to the musher “check out” point - mushers needed to walk/run back to the check-in area to sign out of the checkpoint then fast walk/sprint back to their team to leave. A handler from another team sitting in the same room must have thought I was some sort of sergeant major barking orders at Allen - “so, allow x minutes to check out, you want x minutes to ready the team, x minutes to get your boots on and water thermos filled - if you go to sleep right now you have 17 minutes sleep. Go”. In such a short race even a couple of minutes over time and it COULD affect the placings. In a longer race such as the Quest or Iditarod it is not as critical, although in saying that, efficiency at a checkpoint is always desirable no matter how long the race is.

We got them out in time and for the first time all weekend handlers could just breath out a minute. We had now done all we can to help and support for the race - it was now all out of our hands.

Aliy and the Red Team had also worked very hard on the Meiers to Tolsona leg. During the run Aliy decided to alter her rest plan and spend four hours at Tolsona with three in Mendeltna instead of the five and two scheduled. She left Sissy with us here with a sore wrist and mushed off into the night with Chemo and Spark leading the way in their green glow in the dark collars.

Into Mendeltna Aliy had an extra hour compared to Allen so was able to take a little longer with everything but was still super efficient getting it all done. The shorter the stop essentially just means fewer minutes of rest for the musher as most of the chores take the same amount of time whether you are staying two hours or six. We got her away on time ready for her run to the finish.

Boy those experienced dogs are great. Scout, Scruggs and Olivia are such pros, it was great for Chris to have such experience out front to help with the younger ones. Chris came in to Tolsona with icicles from his beard and was ready to head inside to thaw out after seeing to the team first. It was at this point on we didn’t see Chris again until the finish. I’ll get a team account from him later this week to fill in some details as I really didn’t get much chance to find out much about individual dogs or particular runs.


We’d like to say a word about the three checkpoints with hospitality.

Meiers Lake Lodge was a haven out of the shocking conditions outside. They happily made burgers and grilled cheese for us at 4am and were only too willing to help with whatever we needed. Free fudge or muffins? No problem! Thank you to the team out there who worked so very hard all night and all day.

Mendeltna Lodge was also amazing. All the food I saw being consumed looked to be very much enjoyed and my beef and vegetable stew with home made bread was to die for! There were so many treats and extras we could help ourselves to and for me, the best thing was the huge jug of water with fresh mint and lemon. I downed many many glasses of it. There was plenty of room for everyone to stretch out for some sleep and it was also a welcome haven. Thank you Mendeltna!

Old Paths Church at the finish line once again was fantastic. It feels like home, you know once you reach Old Paths you have made it. They had cook pots of chilli and about 4 different types of soup, exactly what everyone needed. Thanks to the hard working team there also.

We were also lucky to have along for part of the race some folks from Verizon, one of the kennel’s lead sponsors. William, Pepsi, her husband Larry and their two sons enthusiastically helped in every way they could. Goodness the gusto in which that team could rake up the straw was astounding and so very very appreciated by us. Raking straw to my mind is the worst part of the whole thing. Their positivity and interest was infectious and lifted our mood. Thanks team! Go Team “SPK Verizon”

Sincere thanks also to the CB300 Board and Volunteers. CB300 remains one of the kennels favourite races!

CB300: Finish Line

Congratulations Ryne Olson, on taking out the 2017 Copper Basin 300!

Firstly, I wanted to let you know it was Tinder that Allen left with us in Mendeltna before the final push to Glennallen. Tinder had been running well but once he cooled down and had his nap at the checkpoint his hind leg started to get a bit sore and swollen. Only as Allen was stretching the team out before leaving did Tinder appear sore so, 10 minutes before leaving in a very precisely timed checkpoint stop (I'll tell you more about that later), he decided to leave him behind. We'll let him rest over the next week or so and see how he recovers. (Thanks to Derek for running to get the vet for us)

As you know by now, Allen and the Black Team finished in fourth position behind superwomen with their super teams Ryne Olson, Paige Drobny and Michelle Phillips. We are so incredibly happy for Ryne, she is a good friend of the kennel and it was exciting to see her and her team crossing the line in first position!

Allen came in with Rodney fast asleep in the sled bag! As we saw from Aliy's first leg - carrying a dog can really slow down your run time, especially a bigger boy such as Rodney. He is okay, he just a bit sore and tired, this was a really big deal for a two year old and he had been doing so so well up until that point.

Mismo and Izzy (edit: correction of leaders) led the team over the line and we quickly gave them a big meal, removed booties, harnesses, jackets and leggings. They got a massage and foot ointment then up into the truck quickly to get on with the serious business of resting.

Aliy and the Red Team came in sixth position behind Cody Strathe. She was also carrying one in the bag, Driver (edit: correction of rider) who has a sore right shoulder, slowing her speed down or, as Aliy said with a wry smile "we're training slow and steady". Chemo and Sparkie led for the entire race and both came in looking really perky. Everyone demolished their kibble meal or their snack meal (we give them lots of choices at the end of a race to satisfy whatever craving they might have - fish, beef, kibble, poultry skins...)

Chris and team are back and resting happily.

I am conscious that there is a big chunk of detail missing - I will work on a post with some details about Tolsona and Menteltna and I will also get a dog-by-dog account of the teams over the next few days.

Monday, January 16, 2017

CB300: R&B Team Update

I have just heard from Wes that he drove to Lake Louise Lodge (part-way between Tolsona and Mendeltna) to pick up Chris and the Red & Black Team. Wes reported that all the dogs are okay, as is Chris. Cell coverage was not great but from what I can gather, evidently Scruggs tweaked something and was in the sled bag, then Nelson and then Outlaw did the same. This meant, essentially three of Chris' most powerful dogs were not able to contribute and there were still many hills to negotiate and deep snow on the ground with even more falling on the trail to Mendeltna.

The whole idea of running some youngsters in this race is to make it a positive experience and I know Chris was determined to make it that. This race has been challenging for many mushers and dogs with the weather and snow conditions. It sounds like Chris decided to pull the pin and scratch before it became a negative experience for the team.

The dogs have all be vet checked, had a nice big dinner with lots of tasty snacks and are napping in the truck at Mendentna Lodge. They will come back to Glennallen after everyone is rested and ready.

Please be patient as we gather more information but rest assured everyone is okay. We will update when we can.

CB300: Finish Line Update

There is so much to catch you all up on but right now Mark and I need to get down the the finish line and set up the truck ready to greet our teams. At this stage Allen is still in second place but just barely with Paige Drobny with her fantastic looking team just about on him and Michelle Phillips bearing down fast also. It will be a sprint finish and we're excited to watch it unfold.

Once both teams are in we will give them a big dinner and lots of snacks, all body massages including feet and will settle dogs and mushers into bed.

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram, I may post directly there until I get the chance to post something with a bit more detail.

CB300: Analysis -- Rest Strategies

Some of you have asked for updates on required rest times remaining, so here's an update. In the table, you can see the rest times taken by each of the top teams in the first three checkpoints. If you deduct their start differential from their cumulative total rest, you get the remaining rest time. You can do your own analysis -- and speculation! -- about various strategies for early rest vs. late rest by each of the teams.

The eight top teams have all "hit their numbers" exactly on 30-minute increments. Matt appears to have "lost" 12 minutes by overstaying at Sourdough. Ed Hopkins appears to have overstayed 5 minutes in Meiers and understayed 6 minutes in Tolsona. I have no idea how that will be worked out by race officials, or if it will even matter. I'll update again when the teams have all left Mendeltna.

It's hard to explain how complicated time-keeping is for teams out on the trail. Everyone is exhausted, hungry and cold. I can tell you from first hand experience that it's very easy to lose track of the little things. It is a testament to ALL the teams that they get it right so much of the time... Go SPK!