As some of you know, this blog is an enthusiastic supporter of Snowhook Kennel, humane and dedicated sled dog racers up in Willow, Alaska. It’s run by a wonderful couple – Rebecca and AJ Savidis – and AJ sent this update into the comments section recently. Here it is for all to see. Go Snowhook!
We’ve been training like crazy. The team is routinely running 40 – 80 mile runs and looks great. We’ve been traveling over trails that climb 1000 feet, on rivers and through deep forests. It’s been great to change the routine teach the dogs to run well no matter what the circumstance. Which this year also includes cutting through trees virtually every day that keep falling down across the trail.
If you’ve been following the kennel you may already know that Phil Walters is working with us to finish up his qualifying status to run Iditarod. He’ll be running our team in the Northern Lights 300 in a couple of weeks. He also took my A team to a quick 60 mile race in Denali where they placed 4th.
My first race that I’m running in this season is coming up and is the Tustemena 200 down on the penninsula. The dogs will have just run a 300 mile race the week before so we’re not too sure what to expect out of them just yet.
Iditarod food drop preparation is now underway. In order to feed the team over a 1000 miles we send out about 1600 pounds of food and gear across Alaska. This takes us putting together countless bags of kibble, fish, beef, booties and on and on. Usually we try to get this done on days that the team has a day off. Which means a day off the runners usually starts around 8 am and finishes about 11 pm in order to get it all done by the due date.
We do have some stressful news too. Due to a handler who is no longer with the kennel we’ve had a few injuries to some key dogs. Usually it’s very small things but some times it can also be a little more serious such as a shoulder injury. Little Josephine who has been one of my main leaders this season has been off for the last month recovering. We’re just going to start running her again and so if you can keep her in your thoughts we always appreciate the extra help.
On a final more positive note…. Iditarod is a small club of people who have ever finished the race. In its history a little over 800 people have completed this trek which makes finishing a well I suppose an achievement. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to have these finishes under my belt and to be a part of this club but on another level performing better and coming in with a better time is always on my mind. This year thanks to all of you I feel much more prepared to achieve this goal.
If you follow the race you’ll see me go out much more slowly than I have in the past. I’m trying to learn somewhat from my mistakes and will be playing a much more conservative game at first in order to help the team perform better later on in the race. The goal that I’ve set this year is to come in a full 24 hours faster than last year. Of course there are always the nagging doubts that linger when you write down a goal but that is the direction I’m heading.
And finally. Though I don’t know many of you personally I do think about you often. Your friendship, support and selflessness amaze me. I know many of you struggle with problems that as someone who has faced the challenges of Alaska I wouldn’t want to face. I’m humbled by strangers who reach out to others and embrace them as family and who go out of their way to encourage and support each other. Thank you for supporting the kennel. You don’t get to see what it means to the dogs and to us but I do everyday when I look at dogs like Leonard and Elmer who wouldn’t have had a home otherwise.
Well, it’s almost 12:30 here and we’re running dogs again tomorrow. We’ll see you on the trail and as Edward Abbey says, “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 at 7:59 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.