Monday, December 21, 2009

well i have spent the last week out every night late putting in a trail since we got a 2 foot dump starting last Tuesday. We double sledded on Saturday and Sunday 12 miles at chugiak and the trails are assume. if you want to come see a nice trail come here next weekend well be racing there on Sunday. dogs are doing pretty good right now and are ready to go way farther. maybe on Thursday well go out to john and heathers and do 17 miles. still trying to see if were going to have enough to make rondy this year but only time will tell. it was a long day on Sunday we trained 50 dogs of the truck, we broke some pups and they all just stood there in the lines like they been doing it for years. no jumping around, getting all tangled no biting or playing with there sibling next to them just right t0 business sot that was very impressive and fun to see the future of SRK run.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday 12-14

Well the summer went by like that and I(Nathan) finally got a day off work, well at least half a day. We've been running dogs pretty regularly since Oct 1st but the weather hasn't cooperated. Warm all fall and now no snow but maybe that will change this week for us. All the dogs are still running on the 4-wheeler but they are doing 14 miles and doing it well. This year has been one of the hardest years for us so far when it comes to training. We are training 42 dogs off the truck, 3 to 4 times per week. Due to noise restriction where we live, we have to get up at 6:30 get water ready and go out at 7 and water dogs and clean up poops, then we come in and eat our breakfast, get the rest of the last minute stuff ready and load the dogs on the truck at 9 am and leave the house 9:30 to 10:00. Drive over 1 hour just to get to the place we go to train, train all day get done around 5 pm, drive home feed and finish chores get back into the house around 8pm. We do this Tuesday, Thursday and on the weekends. The other three day we both work all day and on Wednesdays we have to go back to work till 1 am. It would be nice to get on a sleds soon so we can go farther.
We went and raced Montana Creek track last Saturday but we didn't go back on Sunday. The club did a pretty good job getting a trail in for as little snow as they have. The trail was very rough and it fell apart pretty quick so when Jen came back from the 6 dog we decided we'd go ahead and run the rest of the teams but we'd have to keep themslowed down withthe mat. It was also crazy getting the teams out since they had very little time in between classes. We both got back in the 8 dog class and before I even got in there were open teams already hooking up. We had less then 10 min to un- hook 14 dogs (Jen raced 6 in the 8 dog class), drop 12, turn the sled around, change lines, harness and hook twelve up and get to the line. It was also a bummer to see the purses getting cut and the fee's going way up, its going to make really hard for people to come up there and race multipul teams. But other wise we were happy with all the yearlings and the young 2 year old leaders that raced their first race in lead. All the dogs are healthy and happy and are as eager as us get to sleds and do something different. We had a litter of pups born about a week ago, there was a whopping 1 pup in the litter. Sure is going to be an expensive pup having her now when the weathers been around 0 F . Hope everyone has a good start to the season and a merry Christmas. Here are some pictures from this year. Jen and her nephew being silly after the 2009 Easter race at chugiak. Us with Ryobi (lead dog) right after Jen won the 2009 8 dog Limited North American. We made it away twice this summer to go fishing. Once at my parents cabin on the Kenai river and dip netting on the kenai the other time and we got a lot, hopefully enough fish for us this winter and into next
summer. And the new lonely pup born December 9th, her name is "Jingle".

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 3 Limited North American

The morning started with a beautiful sunrise as we headed off to our drop spot. The sky was incredible. As we dropped and watered the dogs I watched closely for any hint of soreness or injuries. The dogs are all incredibly happy and full of energy. The yearlings especially are running around like crazy maniacs. More than once I found myself in a situation begging them to not be so rowdy for fear one would crash into the other as they raced around the parking lot chasing each other. Everyone gobbled up their breakfast and looked fine for another day of racing.
Day 3 was a great day for us. In the 6 dog class we posted the second fastest day time, unfortunately we missed 2nd place overall by just 7 seconds. We're happy with 3rd though. I put my "big boys" (Dar & Dewalt) up in lead today. Day 1 & 2 leaders would have done just fine too, but I figured since the big boys had been leading in the longer mileage races they may be better suited for the final day of this race. They obviously did a superb job of bringing it home today.
It was quite a bit colder today and the wind was really ripping at times. The big question for the 8 dog race was what to do with the goofy yearling that played around biting at her brother the first 2 days of racing. My choices were, drop her, drop him or leave it the same. I decided to go with dropping him. Not because he was unable to run, I thought there might be a slight chance he'd get more tired than her because he works so unbelievably hard the whole time he's running. With the longer mileage we had to run I figured it would have been bad to have her nipping at him even longer. Turns out I made the right choice. Everyone in the team ran perfect! I noticed a bit less power without the big guy "Dukker" especially on the final uphill climb coming home. The wind was blowing so hard at one point coming across the field just before the finish, a gust caught my sled, blew it almost over and as I scrambled to keep it upright I was blow literally off the trail into the deep snow. I had looked at my GPS at the lower part of the field and knew if we could keep the pace up we'd have one of the fastest times ever for this class/mileage. We crossed the finish line and had done it. The second best time ever for the 8 dog class running 12 miles! Now all I had to do was sit tight and watch as my competitors crossed the finish line to see if we'd managed to hang on to the top spot. I have to admit it was a bit nerve wracking. I was pretty sure if we could stay in front of team #2 we'd have the win. Second place was in and we'd beat them. Now all I had to wait and see if we could win the day time too. Yep, we did that too. In fact our team was the only team under the 37 minute time. I grab "Makita", scooped her up in my arms and gave her the biggest hug. She's one super dog. Her sister "Ryobi" is just as good but she's bigger so she'd have been harder to scoop up. Then just as Nathan & I are jumping for joy (literally) Our good friends, Terry & Buddy Streeper and Lina Gladh show up with the Champagne. Buddy snapped a few shots of Nathan & I with the leaders, hopefully they'll turn out and we'll post them when we get home. It was nice to know others recognise how hard we've worked for this. I called home to mom next and she's just as excited as us.
We enjoyed a nice dinner with friends and we'll pack up and head home in the morning. Everyone trying to talk us into flying back up next Sunday night for the banquet, we'll have to see if we can find someone to feed for us.
Looking forward to the Tok Race of Champions in 2 weeks. Can't wait to see how fast the dogs can go where there isn't a big hill at the finish. The plan is we'll both race the 8 dog and I'll race the 6 dog. Here's the final times for the top 3.
6 dog
Jennifer Probert 22:56 total 57:27.7
Trisha Seibold 23:31 58:09.6
Jen Sterling 23:13 58:16.6

8 dog
Jen Sterling 36:45 total 1:39:24.8
Christian Taveau 37:08 1:41:21.6
Trisha Seibold 38:05 1:42:33.9

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 2 Limited North American

It was a little colder today. Temps were about -1 for the 6 dog race and warmed up to a whopping 3 degrees for the 8 dog. All the dogs looked great this morning so everyone will go again today.
We'll make some minor adjustments to the gangline for the 8 dog to see if we can keep the yearling that goofed off yesterday from biting so much at her running mate. I contemplated just dropping her but she ran great. With it being a 3 day race sure will be nice to have them all to chose from the last day. I ran both the 6 & 8 dogs teams with all dogs in the same positions as the 1st day.
The 6 dog actually went a little better with slightly cooler temps. We ended up with the 4th place day time but have managed to hold on to 3rd overall so far. I'll post the top 5 again at the end of the post.
The 8 dog went super. The dogs were absolutely flying. I don't think we've even come close to how fast our super leader "Makita" can go. She just eats up the speed, the faster the better for her. Had about the same amount of trouble with my goofy yearling again even with the minor adjustments to the gangline. I'll drop either her or her brother tomorrow, and just run a single position in front of wheel. All the others ran great and looked good at feeding time tonight. It will be interesting to see how they do with the longer mileage tomorrow. We'll be going 12.1 compared to the 10.6 we ran the first 2 days.
A big pat on the back to the trail crew up here. The trails are the best we've run on all year. It's so much fun to go so fast. The dogs are really enjoying it too.
I think it's supposed to be colder yet tomorrow. Sure am glad it's not hot like it was for this race last year. We'll update again tomorrow with how the final day goes.
Here's the top 5 for both classes:
6 dog
Jennifer Probert 17:08.4 2 day total 34:31.0
Trisha Seibold 17:21.6 34:37.8
Jen Sterling 17:24.0 35:03.9
Kris Rasey 17:21.1 35:33.9
Amy Gjestson 17:48.4 35:55.2

8 dog
Jen Sterling 31:14.3 2 day total 1:02.39.1
Christian Taveau 32:18.2 1:04.13.3
Trisha Seibold 32:20.4 1:04.28.6
Egil Ellis 32:16.1 1:05.24.2
Amanda Byrd 32:36.4 1:05.50.7

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 1 Limited North American

I had real good draws in both classes today for my start positions. The six dog team took off like a rocket. We're in 3rd place after day 1 so we're really happy with that. I ran Kodo & Lark in lead today. In team were Finch & Dewalt and Dar & Loon were in wheel. Tomorrow it may be quite a bit colder or so the forecast says. It seemed hotter than what they showed for temperatures today. It was a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. We'll plan to have the same leaders for tomorrow, then Dar & Dewalt will take over for the longer run on the final day.
The 8 dog apparently went much better than it seemed to be going while I was out on the trail. They dogs were moving along really nice but one of my yearlings was being quite a stinker. She was biting at her brother most of the trail. I was a bit nervous taking her but we're trying to be sure all the yearling get good race exposure this year. I saw the team ahead of us before the 10 mile turn, but we couldn't quite catch them for awhile. One of the leaders was holding back a bit, which is quite unusual for her. The team had a really bad experience last weekend in the Tanacross race. The team they had to pass had a dog in it that bit out at them as they tried to go by. We did end up getting by the team ahead of us. We had a great musher to pass, she did a real good job letting us by, which was great for the dogs to have a good passing experience. Coming up the hill on the way home is brutal though. It seems like the dogs slow down so much. I couldn't decide whether it was better to pedal or duck down to stay out of the wind, so I did some of both. We crossed the line and my super handler (Nathan) said we did great. Come to find out we're in the lead. We wanted to finish in the top 5 for this race, so looks like we're in a good position to do that. There is still 2 days of racing to go so we'll have to wait and see how our yearlings hold up. We'll probably have to stretch out the line and run a 10 dog string to separate the silly yearling that was biting at her running mate. Here's the top 5 times for the 6 & 8 dog.
6 dog
Trisha Seibold 17:16
Jennifer Probert 17:22
Jen Sterling 17:39
Amy Gjetson 18:06
Greg Selletin 18:10

8 dog
Jen Sterling 31:24
Christian Taveau 31:55
Trisha Seibold 32:08
Egil Ellis 33:08
Amanda Byrd 33:14

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wow, I can't believe how fast a month goes by. That's how long it's been since my last post.Between racing and working and training I don't think we are even getting much sleep much less having the time to get on the computer.

Since then we have raced in the Raven Electric 10 dog, Chistochina Fun Days 6-dog race and Tanacross.

Nathan & I both ran the Raven Electric. Nathan finished in 6th and I manage to grab 10th. The dogs are still struggling a bit to recover from the long trip across country I think.

The race at Chistochina had to be shortened to just 3 1/2 miles due to bad overflow on the trail. We joked about how funny it seemed to be racing such a short race for a huge purse. They had a ton of snow too. There were 16 teams competing. They had to send the mushers out in groups of 5 teams at one minute intervals since the trail was too narrow for head on passing. I didn't think it was really that big of a deal until I got out on the trail and saw how narrow it was. I also got to see first hand just how deep the snow was if you got off the trail. One of my leaders was a bit far to the left going around a corner and next thing I knew my dog team had totally disappeared. They ended up going in the exact spot a snow machine had gotten stuck earlier. It was a very deep hole. Nathan finished in 4th and I finished 5th. The top 6 teams were all within just seconds of each other. We made good money though. There was a $5,000 purse on the race. We love going to Chistochina, the people there are alot of fun and we always have a great time.

Next race-Tanacross. We had big hopes for this weekend. The dogs were starting to look like a whole team again. I raced the 6 dog and won. I went with "Dar" and "Dewalt" in lead. "Finch" & "Lark" in swing and "Loon" & "Kodo" in wheel. Loon, Finch and Lark are litter mates, so are Dar & Kodo, and then Dewalt has the same parents as Dar & Kodo only he's a year younger.
Nathan ran "Dewalt's" sister's "Makita" & "Ryobi" in lead both days of the 10 dog. Seven of the ten dogs he raced were yearlings. He was in 2nd place only 10 seconds out of 1st place after day one. He had a real bad time trying to get past another team day 1. The other team had a dog of theirs bite out at his leaders as he tried to pass, then actually get ahold of one of Nathan's team dogs. It tore a strip of hide off poor "Shey". Day 2 he had to go with 9 dogs. One of the yearlings "Kai" was limping so he had to sit out. As we waited at the starting line on Day 2 for his take-off I hear someone yell loose dog. Just about then they say "Go" and Nathan's team heads down the trail. The loose dog plows into the middle of his team the proceeds to chase him down the trail biting at his leaders back legs. Oh great I thought. I figured he wouldn't have a very good run after a start like that, especially given the experience the dogs had the day before while trying to pass and being bit at. He ended up falling to 4th place overall. We were really bummed. He was only 12 seconds out of 2nd place overall and less than a minute off 1st place overall. We both really felt like the dogs team was on it and could have easily pulled off the win. Oh well, that's dog racing. It would be nice however if someday we could have just a bit better luck. Or I guess I should say Nathan have better luck. I can't complain at all about my race, it went great.
We'll have a short training run on Tuesday to decide whether or not to head to Fairbanks for the Limited North American Championships. We'll have to rely on some of the other yearlings to fill the spot for Kai and maybe Shey. Looks like Kai may have broken a toe on his back foot, so he'll be out the rest of the year. I'm hoping I'll have my 2 super leaders "Dar" & "Dewalt" back in time for this weekend. If we go I'll race both the 6 & 8 dog classes. Nathan now for some reason thinks he's too big of a guy for racing the 8 dog.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 2 of Exxon Race

It was alittle warmer today, it clouded up overnight. Some of the dogs didn't look to good this morning, they are tired and still fighting a bug they picked up somewhere along our travels, but no one is sore so I think all will go again today.
The 6 dog race went fine. We had a clean run, but Dar looked pretty wiped at the end. Kodo did super as he usually does for me. When I crossed the finish line Nathan said he thought I'd won the race. What! I was in shock. There was 11 seconds separating the top 4 teams going into today's heat of racing but the 3 teams ahead of me were great teams. I was hoping to move up to 3rd. The announcement of final positions confirmed that we did win. I was so excited. We have had a rough 6 weeks on the road and it was nice to have all our hard work finally pay off. Now can we hold onto the lead in the 8 dog. I was real nervous since I had the bad crash on day one. The team is so fast and there is so much power there. I didn't have any troubles at the bad corner in the 6 dog so that did wonders for boosting my confidence. We had a clean run but same as the 6 dog, one of my leaders "Dewalt" was really struggling about 2 miles from home. It's very obvious he's now coming down with the "bug" too. I didn't have the fastest day time today but we did still win overall. That was sweet!!! Last year Nathan was 2nd in the 8 dog and in 2007 he won it. My turn finally. The trophies are amazing. I'll have to take a picture and put it on here so you all can see. We had dinner at the Tudor Road Bingo where they held the awards ceremony. Tonight we unloaded all the dogs off the truck. That was quite a job since no dogs have been here for 6 weeks. Chains were frozen in, most of the straw in the houses had to be changed and food dishes were missing. The dogs are all settled in now and we get to go to bed early since we don't have to drop dogs tonight. Yeah. Back to work tomorrow and we have another huge race next weekend. It's a 3 day race. 10 dogs-10 miles, but each day is a different trail, so good leaders will be essential. The plan is to run 2 teams but we'll have to wait and see how training goes and who is still healthy by then. Happy Trails to all!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day one of the 36th running of the Exxon

I wasn't too sure what the weekend would hold for us after watering the dogs this morning. The dogs are far from 100% still. Some of the dogs I was planning on racing didn't drink so they won't be on the teams today.
We finished a very surprising 4th in the 6 dog. We had 2 passes that went fine. We are only seconds out of 1st place so we'll try and move up tomorrow. I ran Kodo & Dar in lead, Kai & Shey (both yearlings) in swing and Wren & Finch in wheel. All ran great and we'll hope for another clean run Sunday.
In the 8 dog we are currently in 1st place. That just absolutly shocked me. My run was far from clean and smooth. I crashed and almost lost my team on a bad corner just shortly after the start. They warned us to watch the corners for lack of snow. I didn't have any problems in the 6 dog so I wasn't ready for all the snow to suddenly be gone when I came around in the 8 dog. I hit the corner to fast I guess and caught a runner on some grass and just flipped right over. I can't belive I manage to get back upright. Then we also had 2 passes on the way home. I didn't think the dogs looked like a first place team but apparently I was wrong. It's nice to be back in Alaska and running on fast trails. The dogs sure seemed to like it too. Of course we are thrilled to be at the top in both our races. Hopefully all the dogs will be healthy for tomorrow.

We're Home

What a week we had. We left Ft.St John early afternoon on Wednesday after training. We had to make a stop in Ft.Nelson to pick up a few things. We drove late into the night Wednesday, stopping briefly for a short nap in the truck. I climbed into the back seat to try and get a little sleep while Nathan drove. Every time I'd almost be asleep he'd hit the brakes and I pop up to see Buffalo lying in the road. One time there were 3 lying on the left side of the road and 2 more on the right and Nathan had to weave the truck and trailer in between them all. It was quite a sight to see. We stopped for breakfast in Watson Lake and a guy at the restaurant told us the Buffalo cause alot of bad accidents by sleeping in the road. I guess they like the warm pavement. Wish we could have gotten some pictures of it. Thursday night we had dinner at Destruction Bay and then drove for a bit longer. We slept in the truck for a few hours and then pressed on. We got grilled at the border crossing, go figure the only trouble we had the whole trip was getting back into our home state. Then we almost hit a caribou after that. It ran across the road then darted back out in front of us. Whew! Glad Nathan's a good driver or we would have got that one for sure. We had Breakfast in Tok Friday morning. It so good to be close to home. The worst roads of our trip was between Tok and Chistochina. It was snowing and blowing and no one had been over the roads yet so it was really hard to see where the road was. We finally made it back to Chugiak Friday afternoon, first stop was the car wash to get all the salt off the truck and trailer. They use alot of salt on the roads down there. When we got home we let all the dogs run around for awhile, they looked happy to be home but the funny thing was they all eventually came back over to the truck and wanted back in. The plan was already to keep all the race dogs on the truck for the weekend since we have to be in Anchorage early Saturday morning for the Exxon race. Stay tuned for this weekends race results.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Training Day

Today we are at Ross & Tammy Suanderson's. We arrived late last night. We had a drivethon from Eddy's to here. We took naps in the truck instead of getting a hotel. We stopped for a late dinner Monday night in Regina, Saskatchewan with our friends Aaron & Charlene Campbell. They have an adorable new baby, Avery Jordan, she's just 2 weeks old.
It's been really warm since we left there. In Edmonton, Alberta it was 50 degrees. Here in Ft.St John it's about 40 degrees. Ross' trail was nice though. We took 3 8-dog teams out for a short run just to see how everyone looked after running the race last weekend. Nine is still out, she's not feeling well. We ran all the others that ate breakfast. Looks like a couple are sore and most still are far from being back to 100%. We'll let them rest up the last leg of the trip home and hopefully we'll have at least a 6 & 8 dog team for the Exxon race this next weekend in Anchorage. We are leaving Ross & Tammy's here momentarily. We have to make a quick stop in Ft.Nelson and then we'll just keep driving. Hope to be bakc home sometime Friday.

Day 2 of the Walker race

The weather was alittle more cooperative today. It was still about 35 degrees but the trail was quite a bit firmer. All of the 6 dog team dogs went again today. Nathan was able to hold onto his 5th place spot. He had to switch Finch out of lead (she sick) and the only one left to go up in lead was Kai. He's one of the yearlings. He did super up there. No problems with any of the obstacles out on the trail. He did great running down the street with all the people too. For the 10 dog race we had to drop one dog. Our dog Nine was real sick and not eating so she'll rest up today. Nathan went with Ryobi and Slander in lead today. They did great. Our team was for sure the best at going through the tunnel. Almost all the other teams had real trouble with that obstacle. Nathan managed to move up one place to 7th overall for the 10 dog. By Sunday PM alot of the dogs are sick and not eating. When we dropped the dogs for feeding we noticed Dukker & Shey had swollen faces. Dukker's was real bad. He looked like a chipmunk. His neck was so swollen we had to loosen his collar. We had a similar thing happen to 2 other dogs last week and we just gave them Benadryl and they were fine the next day.
We headed back out to Ed & Amy Streeper's after the awards. We'll plan on sleeping there and head out early morning. More later whenever we have internet.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Day 1- Walker, Minnesota race

What a beautiful day today. The weather couldn't be better(for the spectators). Not very good for the dogs though. By the time the 6-dog went out at about 1:30 it was about 50 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It wasn't any better for the 10 dog that went out 1 1/2 hours later. The race organizers did a great job at putting this all together with this being a first time race for this town. They had plenty of trail help and did a super job putting in starting chutes for all the teams.
We helped out with the 2-dog race. The kids start down on the lake and run up the hill and through the town and then cross a finish line up there so they needed lots of help to get the kids and dogs back down to the lake. The people are all super nice so that makes it real fun.
As far as how our teams did, well not too good. The 6-dog finished 5th we think, we haven't seen any results yet. They looked terrible back at the truck. Natha said he was in the lead but had to switch leaders just before the 1/2 way point. At first we thought they were just hot but at feeding time some were not eating well so we'll have to wait and see what we'll have for tomorrow. About the same for the 10-dog. Nathan said they just looked awful. He switched leaders in that race too. We've been training plenty far so this shouldn't have been hard for them. We've been around alot of other dogs and we're thinking they must have a bug to be in such rough shape. The great news though is they all did super with the enormous crowds on the streets and all the road crossings and the tunnel. Nathan said he's not a fan of the mass start races either.
It's now Sunday morning. Last night was real fun. We had dogs throwing up their dinner and some just flat refusing to eat. On of the dogs not eating has never missed a meal. They must be sick. This morning good news, all but one ate breakfast. Everyone looks fine. No one seems sore. I think as of this minute we'll go with the ones who ate and see where we end up overall. We are both looking forward to getting home. The same goes for the dogs I think. For the most part though they all seem to be enjoying the trip. We'll hope to get back on the internet tonight and let you know final results.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another race weekend

Looks like we'll be getting another race in. We went and looked at the trail for the race this weekend in Walker,Minnesota and it looks ok. There will definitely be some challenging parts but it will be a great experience for our young dogs. It will be a mass start race. It starts on a lake and then immediately goes up a hill on to what I call "The Avenue", (like where the Rondy starts in Anchorage but you don't spend as long on the streets). So then after you leave the street you have 3 road crossings and a tunnel to go through. Then the teams are on a really nice wide snow machine trail. The 6 dog turn around is incredibly sharp, pretty much a u-turn in the trail. I hope everyone can hang onto their dog teams for that. Then it's the same trail back home, except the finish line is up on the streets instead of back down on the lake. Nathan will be driving the 6 and 10 dog teams from our kennel. I'm going to chicken out after seeing the trail plus we have a few hurt dogs. Electra hurt her back feet training here on Tuesday at Eddy's so it's best she has a few days off to heal. Loon is still out from his shoulder injury at Daaquam (BUMMER!) We will do better just putting all the best dogs in the 2 teams rather than trying to have 2 6-dogs and a 10, which was our original plan. I'm also going to offer to be trail help with our snow machine after the teams take off. I'm concerned about the teams on the streets where they won't be able to stop of course. It will be a super opportunity for us to see how our dogs handle that kind of race trail. It will be fun to see how they do.
I think today we'll train the few leftover dogs we have that will sit out this race weekend and then we'll head into town for a bit to have a look around. Love & Hugs to all our friends and family at home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A good day of training

We are at Eddy & Amy Streeper's place in Osage, Minnesota. We arrived here late last night (January 26th). We got all the dogs on the truck out for a training run today. The trail was real nice and in good shape. We ran the 2 main teams 10 miles and took the pups and "Loon" out for a short 4 mile run. As of the last drop Loon looks like he might be limping again on the same shoulder he hurt in Daaquam. We'll give him a good look over again in the morning. Hopefully he won't be out for long since he's one of our best race dogs. The pups are doing great with the traveling and harness runs. Today we ran "Guardrail" in lead with "Cinzia". He does super in lead for only being 8 months old. The other race dogs look like they might be starting to feel alittle better. On the last training run in Daaquam they seemed a bit flat, like maybe they had picked up a bug. No surprise considering how far we have traveled and how many other dogs they've been around. Nathan drove the teams today and said they looked alot better than the last training run.
Tomorrow we are going over to a town called Walker to check out their trail. They have a 2 day mass start race this coming weekend with 4,6,&10 classes.If the trail looks good we may stay and race it. The only down side is if we do that then we really have to boogie home on Sunday. We were planning to do some visiting with Hartum's and Saunderson's on the way back through. It would be nice to get another race in though.
We are having a great time here with Eddy & Amy. It's fun to hear all of Eddy's stories and just to talk dogs all day. Stay tuned tomorrow for our weekend plans. Hello to all at home, were hoping to bring the snow home with us!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Heading Home

We are in Marquette, Michigan right now. We woke up to nice blue sunny skies although it's not very warm. I think it's about -5 right now.We are taking the drive home a little slower than what we did on the way to Daaquam. On the way up there we would sometimes drive for a day & 1/2 without stopping, trying to make up time lost from the truck breakdown.
We left Daaquam about 5AM, it was snowing and blowing all the way down the hill. Then we stopped the first night at North Bay, Ontario and then yesterday made it to here. The roads have been ok. We hit a pretty good snow storm when we crossed the border at Sault Ste. Marie. We had an uneventful border crossing which is great. The plan is to make it to Eddy & Amy Streeper's today and train there tomorrow. We are going to run over and check out the Casino here though before we leave town. Hope all is well with everyone back home.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Final Day of 6-dog World Championships

I have to say, I'm glad it's over. I'm ready to get home now. Day 3 went ok for us. The trail was not as fast as yesterday. The wind was just howling too. I can't believe how hard it was blowing out there today, in some places it would darn near blow the sled over. I ran "Finch" & "Dewalt" in lead again today. Looks like we'll end up in 8th place overall, still the top USA team though. We may stay here one more day and train tomorrow morning before heading out. The training trails are super. It's a shame the race trails couldn't have been just as good. We are looking forward to getting home and doing some racing there as long as the weather gets better.
We will write more later when we have internet. Thanks to everyone back home for all their support. Happy trails!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 2 6-dog World Championships

All the dogs looked real good this morning, so everyone will go again today. The plan is to try "Finch" up in lead with "Dewalt" today. They were my leaders back home for the 8 dog races. The hope is that she'll get them movin a bit faster than "Makita". Don't get me wrong, "Makita" is one of our fastest dogs she's just been running a lot further so she doesn't believe me yet that we'll be going short.
Day 2 went super for us. Finch & Dewalt were great in lead today. The trail has really set up nicely. It was so much faster today. I wish it could have been like this for the 8 dog. Looks like we have the 6th fastest day time but still in 7th place overall. I'm happy with that, especially since we weren't trying to be competitive in this class. My fellow Alaskan, Jennifer Probert was in 10th for the day and moved up to 12th overall. She had to drop a dog from yesterday. We are the fastest USA team so far!
After the race we went and trained all the other dogs. The training trail is so unbelievably nice. We just rode on the sled together and trained 2 teams. We threw the puppies in with the race dogs just so everyone could get to run. Have to go feed. Look for the final results tomorrow. Then we'll be heading home.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day one of the 6-dog class

We decided to go ahead and try day one of the 6-dog class after carefully checking out the trail yesterday after the final heat of the 8 dog.
The team is "Dewalt" and "Makita" in lead, "Lani" & "Hula" in swing (yearling sisters and pups of Makita) and my house dog "Finch" and yearling "Dukker" in wheel. Not an easy choice to pick the team with so many good dogs just sitting on the truck. The weather warmed up so that's why we left "Kodo" out. He was a little behind on miles from an injury earlier in the season. After seeing how Makita paced herself today thinking she was running 15 miles (she led the open team both days at Ft.Nelson) I may have been better off with someone else in lead with Dewalt. Suprisingly however we are sitting in 7th place. I'm pleased with that especially since we are a bit over trained for this particular race and I expect if we have good clean run we may be able to move up a spot or two. Funny though, I was so focused on the 8 dog race, I don't really mind where we end up in the 6 dog. All the dogs looked real good during the run today. They were not even the least bit tired, not one of them was even panting after the run. Hopefully tomorrow they will realize how short of a run it'll be and get movin a little more. The trail is still real soft. It's not puchy though like it was for the 8 dog. I was a bit nervous that Dewalt and Makita might try to go the 8 dog trail but no problems at all there.
Tomorrow after the race if the training trail is open I think we'll have to get these other guys out. They are getting pretty wild sitting on the truck so much. Everyone is doing great with the loose dropping. We let everyone race around this morning for quite awhile. They were having a great time. Dukker was very playful and would run around with a stick or tree branch in his mouth with all the other boys in hot pursuit. Dukker also sends hug & kisses to his little buddy Chayton back home. He can't wait to see you again.
We are having to do two separate drops because we have females in heat and don't want to take any chances with breedings. It's easier just to keep them separate rather than harp on the boys the whole time they are out. Since "Scooby" is neutered he gets dropped witht the girls since he's boxed with "Chloe". He's the entertainment for the girls. They all like to chase him around. It's like he's the cute kid in the school and all the girls follow him.
Time to go take care of dogs. More on the race after the heat tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We came over to the trails today and watched the 8 dog class for the final day. I can't even begin to describe how hard it is to stand on the sidelines and watch. We hurt one of our main dogs who has raced every heat of all of our major races for a couple years now. The bad trail and his injury is the main reason we decided to pull our team out. He'll recover, just has a sore shoulder from punching through the soft trail. We did booger up some feet too.
Nathan and I decided to stick around and hope maybe the trail would get a little better after some dog team traffic. We still have the chance to race the 6-dog if we decide we want to. So after the race today we walked about 2 or so miles out on the trail. I really can't believe how much better it looks after 2 days of racing. It's still far from perfect. It's still pretty soft but not so punchy. When we were on our way walking back in, we ran into our fellow Alaskan musher Jennifer Probert. She was checking out the trail too. So we'll give it another go tomorrow. Just got the draw for tomorrow. Great both Jennifer & I get to start at the back of the pack. There's 33 6-dog teams that are supposed to start the race. All our dogs look good. The next big decision for us is which of our dogs will run the 6-dog race. Plan is to go with Dewalt & Kodo in lead. Dar will have to sit this one out. Not a good trail for a dog recovering from a muscle injury. He's pretty well healed but don't want to take a chance. Also thinking we'll take some of the yearlings, Dukker, Lani & Hula are the best. We'll have a look at everone in the morning and make the last minute choice then. Hugs to all back home. Thank you for your thoughtful words to us after our big disapointment in the 8 dog.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 2 of the world championships will not be happening for us. A look over the dogs this morning and we decided not to continue. This choice was made based on what we think is the safest thing for the dogs. We witnessed a pretty bad injury to a fellow mushers main leader and possibly a career ender. That made our decision even easier. Although it was no where near an easy choice to withdrawl after all the time we spent preparing to get here. We always put our dogs first above even winning. Fortunatley for us all of our dogs that were hurt will recover and race again. More later on whats next for us.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day one of the world championships was pretty disappointing. The trail was absolutely one of the worst trails we have ever run on. Not at all what we expected for a world class race. I tried my best to keep the team slowed down to avoid injuries since we still have a lot of races left back home in Alaska. The 1st mile of the trail was super, real hard and fast, then about the next 8 miles was 8 inches of sugary powder down the center of the trail. The last part coming home was pretty good too. The edges were hard enough that the dogs thought they could run fast but just about the time you think finally the trail is better they would fall through. Then we had a bit of a finish line disaster. There were quite a few photographers and we were running down the river and to cross the finish line you have to get your dogs to go between these 2 orange fences about 6 feet apart. The only catch is there was nothing to sort of help you funnel into the 2 fences if that makes sense. So my guys decided since this photographer was waving at them, that must be where they were to go and headed straight there. Wrong! I couldn't get my hook to set on the ice DUH! I'm hollering for help but of course no one is going to help. I'm an American not a Quebec musher. So I set my hook the best I could and hoping for the best I jump off and run for my leaders to drag them over to the finish line. Well about then the hook pops and I watch as my dog team crashes into the fence ahead. Now they are in a ball as finally people jump over the fence to help. God knows how many people it took to drag my team backward and over the finish line. It is so disappointing to come so far and this whole event is so disorganized and the trail is so bad. They have known for so long they were holding the race here it's no excuse to have such a terrible trail for a world championship race. They can't use the excuse that the weather caused it because we trained here on Friday on the designated training trails and they were great. I don't know at this point if we will race again tomorrow. We'll have to see how the team looks in the morning and decide if it's really worth the risks to run a such a bad trail. What do we really have to gain from going on? We know we have a super team and lots of races on good trails still too come.

Friday, January 16, 2009

We finally made it! It's been pretty crazy since we left Ft.Nelson. The truck broke down in Ft.St. John. Ross & Tammy Suanderson along with Tammy's parents helped us get back on the road. Ross knew someone who was willing to give up a repair appointment for their vehicle so we could get ours in. If not for that we'd still be in Ft.St.John since all the shop said it would be at least 3 weeks. The only catch was that we had to get the truck to Edmonton,Alberta. We were told the truck should make it as long as we kept it full of antifreeze. We were told it had a blown head gasket.
So off we were to Edmonton. We got a late start so we didn't make it in to Mark & Brooke Hartum's until real late. So instead of waking their family up, we slept in the truck in their driveway and got up at 6AM to move the dogs over to their dog box trailer. Nathan then headed off to drop the truck off and i stayed with the dogs back at the Hartum residence. My battery is going dead so I'll stop for now and add more tomorrow.
8 dog race begins tomorrow, January17th. Dogs look pretty good. They will be happy to be out of their boxes and running I'm sure. Lots of unknowns here at this race it appears. Even the race marshall has some big concrens.
Hugs to all our family back home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We Made It!!!

Arrived on January 15th at Lac-Frontiere Quebec where we are able to rent a chalet from a local Quebecian. We are in a wooded area so it is nice not to have to deal with hotel arrangements. However, we have NO internet access at the chalet and poor cell reception too. Once we get settled we will go in search of a way to get in touch again!

Somwhere in ottawa

We are somewhere near Ottawa Ontario – about 10:40 pm Eastern time Wednesday night 14th of January. We will be dropping dogs here in a few minutes. We are about 311 miles from our “base camp” near Daaquam. We are tired of driving and the dogs are tired of riding in the truck, but all will be good soon. We are posting this via our webmaster because we still can’t get on internet to read all your messages. After we get to where we are staying we will find an internet cafĂ© and give you some good updates! Thanks for all your good thoughts and messages too!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ft. Nelson – Race Weekend – January 3-4

I survived my first mass start race. What an adrenalin rush that was!! Fortunately for me there was a quite smaller field compared to years past. I am sure the extreme cold weather had something to do with the lack of teams. I’m not sure of the exact temperature but it was hovering somewhere around minus 40 degrees (-40). Terry Streeper and I talked about how maybe a cut-off temperature would be a good thing, although after traveling so far it sure would have been a bummer not to race.

In a mass start race all the teams hook up at the same time and then leave their post when the green flag drops. The idea is that you want to be the first team to the corner where the big wide trail funnels into about an 8 foot trail. I was probably a little too conservative trying to avoid tangles and ended up in the middle of the pack. Teams were running side by side with another one ahead and sometimes 2 more right behind. When some of the teams try to pass, dogs are biting out at one another. It is quite a site to see and be in the middle of! Before the race began I had decided the most important thing, even above winning, to avoid at all costs hurting anyone, since this would be my team for the world championships. About 2 miles into the race, you exit the lake and are on a trail about 14 feet wide. That’s where I made my move both days. On Saturday I was 3rd off the lake and planned to chase the 2 lead teams at least through the turn-around point. After the ½ way point I let my team go. At one point while I was trying to get around the other 2 teams we were all 3 lined up – side by side - going down the trail. Finally one of the teams slowed to let me by but the other one wouldn’t give trail. Eventually we managed to pull away although not too far. My team did very well considering how close the other teams were traveling behind us. You have to have super lead dogs for this kind of racing – and I was real proud of Dar and Dewalt for the outstanding job they did. We crossed the finish line first and won the race!

Each day of racing is counted as a separate race, so if you have one bad day, you can make it up the other day. On Sunday we were next to last getting off the lake, someone ran into my leader real hard with their sled so I just hit my breaks and let everyone go by. I figured I would pass them all on the wide trail after we got off the lake. One day of racing wasn’t worth winning and not having my leaders for Quebec. We had quite a bit of trouble getting the other teams to let us pass. I hear from my friend Lina, who was also racing, that sometimes you really have to be quite nasty to get those other guys to let you get around their team. By the time we made the turn-around point, I had caught and passed all but one team. I was steadily gaining ground on her but just ran out of time to overtake her. So we finished 2nd for the day by 14 seconds! We were quite a way ahead of all the other teams. On the 2nd day I raced Koto and Dewalt in lead because Dar had a knee injury from before we left Alaska that was bothering him.

Nathan ran the open class with all the yearlings. When we arrived in Ft. Nelson we discovered that the open would be running 15 ½ miles and not the 14 miles we had planned on. It was a bit far but we decided to make a go of it and just try to get them all around and keep them on their feet. Day 1 he took Nora and Makita in lead and Day 2 he took Hula (a yearling) with Makita in lead and about ½ way he switched Shey in lead and moved Hula back. He took all 13 dogs both days. It was so cold we had to put the fleece belly bibs that Nathan’s aunt Sue made us before we left on almost every dog! Thank goodness for the hairy huskies we do have! All the dogs survived it just fine – some of the yearlings were pretty tired at the end of the race Sunday, but it will only make them better for next year. Nathan is glad there wasn’t a 3rd day.

The Streeper family put on an incredible race. They did a fantastic job on the trail and were very helpful to everyone. Debby Streeper and her helpers made an excellent dinner for all the racers on Saturday night. On Sunday night we all gathered at the Streeper house for leftover dinner and a recap of the race weekend. Despite the extremely cold weather – we are still glad we came and raced. It was a great experience and really nice to see all the Streeper again. Next stop was Ft. St. John where Ross and Tammy Saunderson live. More to come on the Dog Truck Repair saga.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Update January 6th 2009

Jen & Nathans' truck blew a head gasket in Ft. Saint John. They had to limp the truck into Edmonton to get the work done on it (8 hours away) since no one in Ft. Saint John could get it in before January 20th. They do not know how long it will take to get it fixed - while they are hopeful
they will still make it to Quebec, they are entirely at the mercy of the repair shop (and availability of diesel engine parts) in Canada, so there is no way to be sure now. They are hoping to be able to stay with a musher in the Edmonton area since they cannot leave 30 dogs on the truck while it
is being repaired! We will update as info comes in.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Well we rang in the new year sleeping. How boring I know, but it was a long trip over here to Ft. Nelson and we didn't get much sleep on the way but we made it. Monday night we had to leave the truck running all night long because it was so cold in Tok. It's hard to sleep good when your truck is outside running with all the precious cargo (dogs) in it. Then we had to sleep in the truck Tuesday night because all the gas stations in Watson Lake were closed when we got there about 11pm. So we waited until they opened at 6am, then we off again. The roads were pretty good for the most part. We saw lots of wildlife. We saw Elk, Deer, Buffalo, Lynx, and Fox. We have pictures but they're back in the hotel room so we'll try to add them later.
We wanted to make it to Ft. Nelson in time to train on Wednesday but since that didn't happen, we did a short run today just to let the dogs strech out. It's very cold so that helped make the decision to go a little shorter. We trained 2 teams and both ran 7.5 miles. Everyone looks good. The trails at the Streeper kennel are real nice and all of the family is so wonderful to us. A big thanks to Buddy for taking time out to show us the trail today so we could train. Looks like Nathan will run the open with mostly the yearlings, and Terry Streeper has me talked into running the 10-dog. I'm not to sure about it though since it's a mass start race. I'll most likely only have 8 dogs left to run. If our leader "Dar" is healed up & ready to go he should be a real bonus to my team. He got bit in the knee during one of the very rare dog fights we have in our kennel. We ran him today & if he still looks ok tomorrow he will lead my team along with our newest superstar "Dewalt". Nathan is planning to take "Makita" & "Nora" in lead for his team.
Happy New Year to everyone back home. Thanks for all of your support. Love & Hugs to our families, especially Chayton & Kasey (our nephew & niece).