Posts Tagged ‘plunderers’

Snowhook Update


January 23rd, 2016 Posted 8:12 am

As some of you know, this blog – and an enthusiastic sub-group called the Plunderers – are big supporters of Snowhook, a wonderful and humane dog-sled racing kennel up in Willow, Alaska. The Iditarod is the big race, of course, but there’s way more to it than that. Here’s an update from Rebecca, Snowhook CEO. (AJ’s the musher.)

“If I’m not mistaken there are some key sporting events this weekend—the Broncos and the Patriots battle for the Super Bowl among them. For us at Snowhook, it’s a little closer to home.

Snowhook found the starting line of the first mid-distance race of the season on Friday. AJ left the start of the Northern Lights 300 relaxed and calm (such is the nature of my particular musher even when facing competition). However, there may be an added reason for his laid back approach to this race, make that two reasons.

One, he’s not racing to compete. That’s right, AJ is racing to not race. There is no purse, no monetary difference for coming in first or last place or any of the positions in between. For AJ, it will a fun run. This brings us to the second reason we can expect to see AJ hold back on his competitive spirit. The second reason is bib #12, a bib number belonging to a musher who left the starting line a little less calm and not quite as relaxed as AJ. And, for good reason. He’s a rookie.

Joe has his sights set on running the Iditarod next year. To do that, he must qualify—much like the Broncos and the Pats must qualify to play in the Super Bowl—by completing at least two 300 mile races and one 200 mile race. Once a musher crosses the finish line in Nome, he or she does not need to re-qualify to race again in the Iditarod. With the burled arch in Nome in mind, he approached Snowhook last fall to achieve this goal. Since that fall day, Joe has given this goal his full commitment.

As a veteran of the Iditarod, AJ does not need this race, but Joe does. Veteran mushers have all been rookies, including AJ. The learning curve for mushing is steep, and the learning curve in racing was straight up for us.

In Snowhook’s first race, we did a lot of guessing on how to prepare, what to include in drop bags, and how to plan a run/rest schedule. And, our learning the hard way continued on the trail. Once AJ reached the layover checkpoint of his first race, he searched to find his race routine. As he tended to his dogs, a young racer approached him for a favor. The favor?—He quietly asked AJ if he could undo the knots on his bib for him. “My mom tied double knots and I can’t get into my pockets. Mushers keep everything from booties to ointments for the dogs and snacks in their pockets. Pockets are important—lesson noted and learned.

In that same race many years ago, another rookie lit the sleeve of his parka on fire while showing off. Believing that going up in flames is a poor race strategy, AJ advised this musher to stick his arm in the snow—near disaster averted. Once the band of race rookies–their numbers around AJ growing— finished their chores, one asked AJ what they should do next. His response was simple: I have no idea.

Success for AJ in this race is seeing Joe complete the first of three qualifiers.

Thank you to the Plunderers for making this and many of AJs starting lines possible.”


Congratulations Snowhook


March 21st, 2015 Posted 9:09 am

Our team in the Iditarod reached Nome yesterday, passing under the famed burled arch. Congratulations to AJ (musher), Rebecca (CEO) and all those brave members of the nation within. Rebecca has taken the time to write nightly updates, for which we’re very grateful. Here’s her last, sent without much of an internet connection:

After eleven days on the trail of encountering -60 temperatures, high winds and fierce storms, Team Snowhook crossed under the burled arch in Nome. Following our reunion under the arch we spent a long time tending to the dogs: feeding, straw for bedding, getting the thumbs up from the vets, and feeding again, walking the dogs, massaging and feeding once more. And, then we slept.

AJ filled me in on stories and some details of the trail over pizza (thanks Sharon and Digger). He is very proud of the dogs. I am very proud of both AJ and the team, very proud.

The dogs will return home today and we will follow on Monday.


We sincerely appreciate the Plunderers’ support and friendship. We are honored to be called ‘your team.’ Thank you.

(Photo credit HOH)



End in Sight


March 20th, 2015 Posted 8:31 am

What an endurance test the Iditarod is – and for CEO’s, too! Here’s Rebecca, our Snowhook CEO:

This could be another ‘No Post Today’ kind of a day. I am in Nome and my internet access is fairly non-existent.

After the obligatory White Mountain Wait, AJ will depart from the checkpoint and make the seventy-seven mile march to Nome where I will be waiting for him under the burled arch on Front Street.

Over the course of this training and race season, I have thought a lot about commitment to the dogs. Despite race records and standings, I am very proud of He is Not Cold For He Has Good Dogs for putting the dogs, their care and training ahead of personal interests, fatigue and other distractions.

I am proud of the dogs, too. They want to run. They need to run. They love to run.

Thank you to the Plunderers for making this possible for Snowhook. I believe a sniff is in order—such is the nature of the best-damn-handling-wife.


Scents and Sensibility_9781476703428


Snowhook (More)


March 8th, 2015 Posted 9:13 am

OK. Yesterday was actually the ceremonial start, the actual Iditarod – greatest sled dog race in the known universe – beginning tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s the first of our overnight reports from Rebecca, CEO of Snowhook Kennel, our team in the race. Below is a picture of musher AJ with star dogs Chet and Bernie (yes!) and one of Bernie alone, wearing an outfit reflective of Hawaiian pants (readers of the series will get the reference. For non-readers of the series, here’s a reason to plunge in.)

Most people sleep in on Saturdays, but not us. Not this Saturday. The work day came early after working late into the night to complete a long list of must-be-dones. We awoke to five inches of heavy, wet snow slushing form the sky. Having loaded up the dogs, we fishtailed our way on the highway until the snow turned to rain as we neared Anchorage for the Ceremonial Start.

It gets quite busy right before the race, and then it gets even busier with race requirements and race festivities. The Ceremonial Start, where teams travel eleven miles through the city streets greeted and cheered by spectators and fans is similar. There is down time, some socializing, photos, official race tasks of verifying dogs, and then it gets very busy, very quick. In a matter of minutes, AJ and I harnessed the dogs, bootied each paw, hooked the team to the line, and waited for a race official to countdown our path to the starting line, “Savidis, two minutes.”

Five…four…three…two…one! The starting line held the best snow we would see during the ceremonial stretch. Warm temperatures and rain turned the trail into less than suitable for mushing. It was a slog. We expected patches of pavement. We expected correctly. We anticipated stopping the team a lot to give them a break from the warm temperatures. We stayed true to our plan. We guessed there might be some slush on the trail. We only get partial marks for that guess. Yes, there was slush, but we had no idea we would be dumping water out of our boots at the end of the run. With some puddles deeper than our boots are high, we returned home waterlogged.

As we prepare to leave for Fairbanks—the location of this year’s restart, we have added drying out gear to that list of must-be-dones. Due to the change in the race course this year, Sunday serves as a travel day so mushers can transport their teams to Fairbanks. Tomorrow will be another long day in a string of long days.

The restart will be held on Monday morning at 10:00.

Both AJ and I want to say a special thank you to the Plunderers who are traveled to cheer for AJ and the dogs (and have given a go at handling) as well as those of you cheering us on in spirit. We are honored to be called ‘your team,’ and hope to make you proud. Thank you for your continued support and friendship.

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