Posts Tagged ‘Justin Savidis’

Go Snowhook!


March 7th, 2015 Posted 7:54 am

As some of you know, the Iditarod – greatest dog sled race in the known universe – starts today. In Fairbanks, not Anchorage this time, due to poor snow conditions. “They could race here in our yard on Cape Cod if they’re  looking for snow conditions,” Admin says. This blog and a lot of people here are big supporters of Snowhook Kennel up in Willow, run by a wonderfully humane couple named Justin (AJ) and Rebecca Savidis. We wish them all the luck in the world, and we’ll be following the race closely. There are ways to do that, but for now here are 2 links. A special highlight here will be overnight reports from Rebecca. And we’ll have pictures of the beautiful and brave members of the nation within, the stars of the show.


On the Iditarod Trail (More)


March 5th, 2014 Posted 8:29 am

Here’s Rebecca’s (CEO of Snowhook, our team in what has started as a very tough Iditarod race) report. (The broken bones she refers to seem to be all human – see link below, in which Justin Savidis, our AJ, is quoted. Thanks to C.Hobbit for the link.)

Little to no snow, stumps, rocks, and ice add up to one thing—one hell of a ride. Beaten and battered mushers arriving in Nikolai have shared the horrors of the trail between Rohn and Nikolai, a section of trail that is now littered with sled parts and equipment. The canine athletes fared much better than their human partners. In the past 24 hours, the race has ended for 11 teams because of broken bones and other injuries and sleds that are damaged beyond repair. It is likely this section of trail will claim more victims in the hours to come.

My heart took up residence in my throat as I waited for word that the team reached Nikolai. After resting the team for several hours, they are back on the trail and headed for McGrath where AJ intends to take his 24. Teams are required to take one 24 hour break at any point during the race, another 8 hour rest on the Yukon River, and final 8 hour layover in White Mountain. When he reaches McGrath, AJ will transfer his sled bag from the sled he drove during the first third of the race to a lighter weight finishing sled. We have not had the luxury of sending out a second sled in past years leaving AJ to make due with repairs he made on the trail for the duration of the race. This year, a second sled is less a luxury and more of a necessity given the trail conditions. I hope Rose and Grizz understand how much we appreciate their sponsorship of AJ’s finishing sled. Knowing that AJ has the second sled waiting for him in McGrath eases my worried mind.

As I think about the trail the team has traveled, I recall a conversation AJ and I had about the rumors of treacherous terrain in the days leading up to the starting line. I said he would have to be pretty tough to handle the trail. He agreed and then remarked that Melanie is tougher than he is. Melanie is in our hearts.

And thanks to ML for this Alaskan memento:




Snowhook Update


January 9th, 2014 Posted 7:59 am

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.”


Wonderful News From Snowhook!


May 11th, 2013 Posted 8:06 am

“For people new to this blog, Snowhook’s the racing kennel we’re very attached to up in Willow, Alaska,” Spence says. “Rebecca and AJ are  the wonderfully humane couple who run it.”

“Maybe one day we’ll even get up there,” Admin says. “But for now here’s an email from Rebecca. Could it make us any happier?”

“Only if we had pictures of these pups.”

“But no pressure, Rebecca!”

As Chief Naming Officer of the kennel, it isn’t just about picking a theme of names, and the right name for the right dog.  It is also about the right time.  Such a time presented itself during chores on Friday evening when AJ said, “We need to pick out names for the pups.”  I’ve been waiting for the right moment to have this conversation with AJ.  We entered the pen that houses the four pups who were born in February.  
AJ sat on a low stoop and the first of four climbed on his lap.  “That’s Chet,” I informed him.  Soon AJ was covered in mud, fur, wagging tails and pink tongues as I introduced the other two boys—Bernie and Iggy.  The boys slid into their names with ease.  I’ve tried on many different names on the tiny girl, smaller than the rest of the litter.  Nothing seemed to fit.  Tonight it came to me—Little!  
As we walked to the house after chores, I asked AJ if he knew the pups had already been named.  He responded with a smile in his voice if not on his face, “I suspected it for a long time.” 
It’s official.  Snowhook now has a Little Detective Agency Litter with Chet, Bernie, Iggy and Little. 

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