Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Pupdate: Big Mac Strikes Back

The "Three Pupsketeers" are at the age where they move so fast and in so many directions that it's really hard to capture decent video of them. I'll keep trying to bring you an update on them all very soon, but for now I can offer you this little gem of "Big Mac":

Afternoons at the Kennel, I take Stella and Tiggy out for a romp. Their "job" at the Kennel is to help exercise and socialize the pups, so we take various combinations of them out into the big field with us. It is fascinating to watch Stella and Tig as they instinctively alter their "auntie" behavior with the different pups at different times. They start by offering playfulness and patience to the younger pups, then shift more toward exploration, enthusiasm and guidance as the pups develop.

In the case of "Big Mac" they seem to sense his "bad boy" personality streak and shift into a much more dominant and vocal kind of "schooling." As you will see, they don't give the kid much leeway. Although there is no real aggression or violence involved, he definitely gets the message that he is not "the boy king." In fact, you will see that at one point they pretty well run him off. Indicative of his strong personality and hard head, however, he comes roaring right back!

The pups' time with "Aunt Stella and Aunt Tig" is really good for them. It is a valuable, natural way for them to develop their social skills and to be integrated into a large, mature pack. So, here is an inside look at "growing up pup" at SP Kennel:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Congratulations Dingle!

Congratulations to Dingle who is now a sponsored dog!

Alice Van Dorn of Boise, Idaho, recently sponsored Dingle and wrote to tell us why:
"Last year I subscribed to the Iditarod Insider and spent every spare (and some not so spare) minutes watching the Iditarod unfold via the GPS and online videos. I also read the Iditarod newsgroups and discovered Happy the Sled Dog, her appointment in Nome, the SP Kennel Dog Log, and the fantastic videos that Aliy filmed while actually running her team during the Iditarod! WOW! I was hooked!

"I loved feeling like a real insider and scoured the Dog Log for every tidbit of information I could glean. I have watched the videos over and over, laughed at Manny and Moonpie, cried when Slanky died, and loved riding the sled with Aliy.

"It recently dawned on me that every day I look forward with great anticipation to seeing what new information will be posted on the SP Kennel Dog Log. I have also realized that it takes more than just Aliy, Allen and Bridgett to make SP Kennel a premier sled dog racing kennel. It takes a team, and I want be part of it!

"I've chosen to be part of the team by sponsoring Dingle. I've chosen him because he's a leader and an inspiration to me. I imagine the hardships that he persevered through to cross the finish line in Nome last year! I am so looking forward to following him as he heads to -- and all the way through! -- the Iditarod this year. I can already hardly wait to receive his Iditarod dog tag in my sponsor kit next year!"

"Even more, I am very excited and proud to be part of -- and to support -- such a great team!"
Thanks, Alice! On behalf of Dingle and everyone here at SP Kennel, we are just as excited and delighted to have you on the Team!
(Not a dog sponsor yet? Well, you're in luck! A few of our fantastic dogs are still available for sponsorship. Just email us -- -- to tell us which dog inspires you to embark on a truly "insider" experience in the life of an SP Kennel Alaskan Husky sled dog!)
Are you an SP Kennel fan? -- Do you value this website?

Outtake: Saint Bullet

Here's a little outtake of Aliy hooking up her team for the physical therapy run. As you know, her six dogs included four heathen yearlings -- Hank, Lester, Willie and Scruggs -- loud-mouth Ranger and "Saint Bullet."

It's hard to describe Bullet. She is a shy, quiet dog who takes her time warming up to you. If she comes out of her house to greet you, it really means something. She is also probably the smartest dog in the Kennel. Her "gee haw" abilities are so strong that Aliy often refers to Bullet as her "steering wheel." Watching Bullet lead a team through a complex maze at a race start is not only inspiring, it's downright humbling. Most humans don't follow directions and instructions as well as she does!

Bullet may not be the fastest or strongest lead dog at SP Kennel, but she may be the most reliable. She will do absolutely anything that Aliy asks her to. In this case, that includes leading Aliy's 6-dog team of rowdy dogs. As you will see, Bullet suffers in silence as she keeps the heathen team lined-out before the run, and shows why she has achieved sainthood not only at SP Kennel but throughout the canine realm!

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Physical Therapy" Run -- Part 3

In Part 3, we've saved the best for last. Continuing and wrapping up the physical therapy run, Aliy provides you with a fully narrated ride on "the slough." Along the way she enhances her evaluation of the rehab dogs and shares her final assessment of their fitness to return to regular training. You will also see that even with only 6 dogs on a slow run, you still cover a lot of distance in a hurry!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Natural Extremes Arctic Adventures -- Update!

Celebrating Aliy's 10th year running the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Aliy, Allen and the SP Kennel Dogs are offering three Natural Extremes trips on the Seward Peninsula. These trips will be run after the Iditarod, beginning in Nome and exploring the historical trail to the Pilgrim Hot Springs. This is an opportunity to travel with the dogs you have met on the Dog Log and have an experience of a life time. Only one spot is left on the April 10 through April 16 trip.

For more information, please contact Kaz at

"Physical Therapy" Run -- Part 2

In Part 2, Aliy describes both the physical therapy run in general and individual dogs on the rehab teams in particular. She does all this, of course, while mushing, filming and observing dogs all at the same time. As they say, "Don't try this at home!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Physical Therapy" Run -- Part 1

As you know, a few dogs were "dropped" from the teams during the CB300. None for any real or obvious injuries, but showing enough signs of discomfort that the mushers made the decisions to drop them in the interest of the dogs' best welfare. Aliy talked about all of the dropped dogs during Part 2 of the CB300 video debrief series, but we wanted to share a little follow-up with you on their status.

In this "Physical Therapy" Run mini-series, you will see that they are all quite well and in different stages of "rehab." That's not really a great word to describe it, but we have yet to come up with a better one. You'll also note we use the term "physical therapy" but that really isn't completely accurate either. Basically, after showing any signs of discomfort and/or being dropped from a race team, a dog will get some "time off" to rest, recover, restore… whatever. Then, rather than go right back to training at full speed and distance, they will go for a few short, easy, stretch-out runs during which Aliy takes a very close look at their gait, etc. Once they "pass" that examination, they go back into full training rotation.

In Part 1, Aliy starts with a candid review and description of the dropped dogs' status, then hooks them up and heads out for a "physical therapy" run.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Word For Our Sponsor: EaglePack

Winning the CB300 Humanitarian award is truly an honor for all of us here at SP Kennel, but we have to admit we're not solely responsible for winning it.

Nutrition plays such an important part in the dogs' overall health and fitness that we wanted to do something special to acknowledge the vital role that EaglePack dog food plays as the foundation of their nutrition. So, we decided to put together a short "infomercial" for them.

Aliy set up in the Kennel's basement/shop with a bag of kibble and we started rolling video. Although it's probably fair to say we're pretty good at putting together mushing videos, we're obviously not much of a professional video production studio! Nevertheless, we think it turned out pretty well and wanted to share it with you here on the Dog Log.

Please... We have a favor to ask of you! (You know we don't ask for much, right?)

As you can imagine, we buy literally tons of dog food for our racing dogs every year, and all of it is EaglePack brand. The good folks at EaglePack sponsor SP Kennel by giving us a nice discount on the food we buy, and that really helps us out.

Please take a moment to send an email to EaglePack expressing appreciation for their ongoing sponsorship of SP Kennel. We have pre-formatted a very brief message for you, but we encourage you to edit/add anything you want!

Please click here to send an email!

Thank you!

Monday, January 25, 2010

White Mountains 80 Day

With the end of last week being a couple of weeks after the CB300 and a couple of weeks before the Denali Doubles, the training schedule called for the dogs to have a good, long workout in the hills. As you know, however, we have had practically no snow here in Two Rivers and the the trails are so hard packed that they are not good for the dogs' feet. So, Allen and Aliy decided to head back up to the White Mountains for an 80-mile training run on the nice, soft, snowy trails there.

As you will see in Aliy's introduction to this video, we did get a couple of inches of snow the night before, but that wasn't enough to change the plan. After she welcomes you to the day, Aliy walks into the dog yard to give the dogs a nice wake up call. Then, you'll be out on the trail to see how it's not only the dogs who work hard on their training runs. Your day ends with a fantastic sunset, though the teams continue to run late into the night and don't return to the Kennel until the wee hours of the next morning!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Pupdate From Chaos Basement

Allen, Aliy, Doug and I were in the Kennel's basement / shop the other day, when all of a sudden Aliy said, "Hey! Let's do a Pupdate!" The next thing you know we had four pups (Scooter, Shmoe, Sissy and Spoog) plus four adult dogs (Tig, Stella, Remington and Girlfriend) joining us in a not very big space. I've tried to edit the footage into some semblance of a story, but… Um… Well… "By golly, they're puppies!"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Noon Today

We're gaining on it!!!

Denali Doubles Rules & Map

We weren't planning to start "getting into" the upcoming Denali Doubles for another week or so. Partly because we don't have a lot to say about it yet, but mostly because we don't really feel like we have it all figured out. But, many of you seem quite keen to "get after it" so we're inviting you to play along!

If you click on the image to the left, a PDF of the complete Denali Doubles Race rules will open in a new window. Most of it is pretty straightforward "race stuff" but if you read carefully you will see a number of details that are different for this race.

Your mission -- should you choose to accept it -- is to put everything you've learned here on the Dog Log to use and develop your own race plan: What would your run/rest schedule be? What supplies would you carry with you and what would you pre-position at the supply depot in Paxson? What kind of sled configuration would you use for two mushers? How would you design your dog team in terms of experienced veterans vs. youthful rookies, speed vs. steady, etc.? Would you pre-plan to "leave" -- not "drop" -- any dogs along the way to pick up on the return? Would you pre-plan to "drop" any dogs in Paxson? So many factors to consider!

To help you out a little, I've put together a pretty good map of the race course which you can see in full size by clicking the image below:
If you would prefer to see and/or print a higher quality PDF version, you can open one in a new window by clicking here.

What else have you got to do this weekend? Get after it! And if you come up with something you're really happy with, send us a copy:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Twenty Dog Team!

The CB300 is behind us, and our coverage of it here on the Dog Log is complete. It's time to start focusing on the Denali Doubles race, coming up on February 11th.

A number of you have asked for some explanation of the Denali Doubles. The truth is, we're really just starting to get our heads around it and develop our strategies. It's a new race, and there are some interesting quirks to it. We promise to explain it as best we can, as fast as we can.

One thing is for sure, a Denali Doubles team includes twenty dogs! We thought it might be good to start you off with some idea of what that looks like, so Aliy recorded this video. She does a great job as always of narrating it, but it's a little hard to hear over the dogs barking. Here are two main points to watch for:

1) The front 12 dogs are all racing veterans. They have lots of experience and what we call "manners." Once they are hooked up, they mostly sit patiently in line and wait for the signal to get going. The rear 8 dogs are mostly young, inexperienced dogs. They definitely do not have "manners." It's a great contrast to see so clearly.

2) A twenty dog team is, as Aliy puts it, "a little bit to handle." Even in the still photo above, you can barely see all the dogs, let alone be able to see any detail about what's going on with your leaders. Keep in mind that they are about 80 feet in front of you, farther than the length of the longest semi-truck on the road. This is where all the time that Aliy spends with her dogs really shows up. She has to be able to tell what's going on with each of them just by glimpsing how they are running. She cannot rely on being able to clearly see details.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

CB300: Race Plans

At several points in our CB300 video debrief series, we referred to our "race plans." It occurred to me that you might like to see what we're talking about, so I asked Aliy if I could post them now that the race is over and there's nothing "secret" about them anymore.

Aliy responded: "Sure, you can post them. But do you really think anybody wants to see them? They're kind of technical and boring, don't you think?" Alas, we have a good question. Aliy doesn't think you'll find them interesting, and I think many of you may downright drool over them. So, here we go!

If you click on the image below, a PDF of our CB300 race plans will open in a new window:
If you've gone this far, let me tell you just a bit about what you are looking at:

The first page is Allen's race plan. Mainly, it's a spreadsheet that does a bunch of "time and date" calculations. Starting at the top we make some calculations for starting time, start delay based on bib number and the "differential" of starting times that has to be made up on the long mandatory rest.

In the table, you will see legs of the race from checkpoint to checkpoint, including miles in between and figures for run hours and rest hours. Run hours were estimated by Allen -- based on his many years of experience with the race -- as the amount of time it would take him to run each leg in "normal" conditions. Rest hours show his pre-planned rest strategy.

Then the spreadsheet does it's thing and calculates OUT and IN times to come up with Scheduled Times. These times are useful in a number of ways. First, they can help the mushers before the race to have an idea roughly what time of day they expect to be someplace, and to plan accordingly for night travel, heat of the day, their body clocks, meal times, etc. During the race, the plan is useful for the handlers to have a vague clue about where they need to be and by when in order to support the mushers. As the race goes on, the schedule can be adjusted based on progress, and this is a lot easier to do by working off the plan than it is to do in your head when you are cold, hungry and exhausted.

As you can see, Allen got ahead of his plan and stayed there, finishing 73 minutes ahead of plan. Aliy's plan is basically the same as Allen's, except that it factors in a 5% addition to her run times -- to account for her team being not quite as fast as his -- and she was never more than 16 minutes off her planned pace. Bridgett was on a somewhat different plan for rest hours, and her run times were based on Allen's plus 10% -- a bit of a wild approximation -- and she finished only 61 minutes behind the plan.

Having read over what I just wrote, I'm starting to think Aliy may be right. Is this kind of "totally insider technical mumbo jumbo" something you are interested in getting on the Dog Log once in a while?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CB300: Debrief -- Part 3 -- The Mushers

In our Part 3 wrap-up, Allen and Aliy talk about "the mushers." From high points to low points, what they think about on the trail and how they stay focused when they know family members are "out there."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CB300: Debrief -- Part 2 -- The Dogs

In Part 2, Allen and Aliy talk at length about the dogs: how well they performed, who got dropped and why, what winning the humanitarian award is all about, etc. We know how much you all love the dogs. Here is the in-depth, inside story about them in the CB300.

Monday, January 18, 2010

CB300: Debrief -- Part 1 -- The Race

I sat down with Allen and Aliy over the weekend and filmed a "debrief" with them about the CB300. I've edited the video into a three part series that I think you will find very interesting.

In Part 1, I ask them about the race in general and they respond with their customary candor, grace and openness. You may be particularly struck by Allen's description of his heartbreaking setback only 20 miles from the finish.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Aliy On The Cover Of Mushing Magazine

Congratulations to Aliy for making the cover of Mushing Magazine!

The photo was taken at the Two Rivers Tune Up Race by Alaskan photographer Carol Falcetta. I have no idea what kind of process she used to "colorize" and "art-ize" the photo, but I think you'll agree it's pretty cool! Very nice, Carol!

Below, you can recognize the "cast of characters" standing around the starting line just moments before the photo was taken.

Now, a real test for our eagle-eyed Dog Log readers: Can you name the dog in the cover photo? (Trust me, this is a tough one!)

CB300: Winter Drive

Here's a little video to enjoy with your Sunday morning coffee.

During my drive from the CB300 back to the Kennel, I shot some footage with my onboard camera. The first two minutes show you a few things from our Arctic world that I think you may find interesting. Then there are just a couple of minutes of "music video" that I hope you will find enjoyable. (Note: "Extra credit" to those of you who can identify the apt music!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

CB300: Bridgett Watkins Fantastic Finish

Bridgett may just be the most positive, up-beat person you could ever meet. She is certainly one of the most excited racers in the CB300. Crossing the finish line after almost 60 hours on her rookie running of the race, Bridgett was just as happy and excited as when she started.

As you will see, her dogs look absolutely fantastic. This may be partly due to the fact that they had more rest that the dogs on the other teams, but it is certainly mostly due to her excellent care of them throughout. You will also see some very sweet footage of Aliy greeting the dogs on their arrival, some post-race dog care and some very happy smiles.

Friday, January 15, 2010

CB300: Aliy Zirkle At The Finish

Aliy powers along the highway toward Tolsona, then crosses the line to finish eleventh. There wasn't much of a crowd on hand -- in fact, only Doc Mike was there besides the checker! The freezing cold of -30 plus a biting wind were probably the reasons, but that didn't stop us from giving her and the dogs a rousing welcome and hearty congratulations. Here's an interesting tidbit for you: Aliy drew starting position #11 this year and finished in 11th place… Which is exactly the same position she finished in last year! Coincidence?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

CB300: Allen Moore's Dash To The Finish

I can't say my eyes are exactly wide open, but the video I shot of the SP Kennel Teams finishing the CB300 looks better to me now than it did when I was looking at it through my eyelids. I thought a few videos of the teams finishing might be a good wind down from the excitement of the weekend.

In this video, we pick up where I found Allen just entering the Glennallen checkpoint, then follow him as he races along the highway trying to chase down Jeff King. You know how it ends, but I hope you can see Allen's indomitable spirit as he never stops working to help the team go as fast as it can.

I think you will also see his disappointment as he crosses the finish line, only a few minutes off the lead after 50 hours of non-stop effort. Congratulations to Allen on an extraordinary run, an outstanding finish and his commitment to leaving nothing in reserve.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CB300: I Had A Dream…

By the time I'd gotten back to the Kennel and checked to see that all the dogs were doing fine, then defrosted my camper, stowed my gear, had something to eat, posted the update about winning the Humanitarian Award and gone to bed, it was about one o'clock in the morning.

Then, I had a dream…

My phone rang a little after three o'clock. It was Aliy saying that Big Red had broken down on the highway between Delta and North Pole. A busted water pump was the likely culprit. Could I drive my truck down and help get some dogs back to the kennel. I heard myself reply, "Of course."

I pulled on all my clothes to tackle the -30 and worse temps, then fired up trusty Darth and hit the road. By four-something I was fueling up in North Pole and could swear I saw Ray driving by in his truck. I got back on the road.

By five-something I had reached the broken down convoy. Big Red was pulled off onto the snowy, icy shoulder. The smaller dog truck was behind it, and Ray was parked behind that. Allen, Aliy and Bridgett were assembling dog crates and shifting dogs from Big Red into them. Bob came up to my window and asked, "What do you think about towing Big Red back to North Pole?" I heard myself reply, "Darth and I can hook you up!"

I got a tow hitch, tow strap and clevis pin out of my truck box, then Bob and I made the connection. By the time I got back in my truck, there were three large dog crates in the back, each with two dogs in them. When I climbed into the driver's seat, I was greeted by Petunia, Teddy and Dingle in the back seat. They were checking out the leather upholstery and looking at me as if to say, "Nice truck, Dude, let's roll!" I marveled at how much dogs love trucks, even Alaskan Husky sled dogs who have never been in one before. It must be in their genome.

Ray pulled out with 6 dogs inside his truck, plus Doug and Bridgett who had to get to the airport to fly back to Nome. I put Darth in drive and off we went. Allen and Aliy brought up the rear in the little truck, flashers blinking to alert overtaking traffic we were going slowly.

For the next two hours, we drove at about 25 miles per hour, my foot on the gas, Bob's on the brake. We stopped about every half hour so Bob could scrape the frost off the inside of Big Red's windshield. He had no heat, no power steering, no power brakes. A cold, miserable ride. The dogs in my truck lay down on the back seat and were so quiet I almost forgot they were there. We listened to Billy Joel.

A little after eight o'clock we'd reached North Pole and pulled into the parking lot of an auto service place where Bob knows the guys. We had a little meeting in my truck: Bob, Allen, Aliy, Petunia, Teddy, Dingle and me. Our best plan -- our only plan, really -- was for Allen and Aliy to stay there in the little truck to explain the situation to the repairmen when they opened in a little while. Bob and I should drive my truck and dogs back to the kennel. So, that's what we did.

Shortly after nine o'clock this morning we had reunited the dogs with the ones Ray had brought back and all their other pack mates who hadn't made the trip. Aliy called to say she and Allen were on their way to the kennel, and that Big Red would maybe be fixed later today. I drove Bob home and bid him adieu, then back to my camper. It was still dark outside. I crawled back into bed at about ten o'clock.

I woke up a little while ago, a bit stunned by how vivid my dream was. It was so vivid that I thought I'd share it with you. Now I'm going to sweep out some husky fur I just found on the back seat of my truck.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SP Kennel Wins CB300 Humanitarian Award

Aliy just called from the dog truck on the way back from the CB300 Awards Banquet and said, "Great News! SP Kennel won the CB300 Humanitarian Award!"

Because dog care is so important in the sled dog community, Humanitarian Awards are presented by race veterinarians to the musher whom they believe took the best overall care of his or her dogs during the race. Humanitarian Awards are highly coveted, and many mushers say that receiving one is more rewarding to them than winning the race.

So, it was natural for me to respond to Aliy's news by saying, "That's fantastic! Which of you won it?"

"That's the really great thing!" she replied. "It wasn't one of us, it was all of us. The whole of SP Kennel! The mushers, the handlers, everybody!"

Between Aliy's excitement, the truck noise and the poor cell phone connection it was hard for me to catch the whole story, but it goes something like this: The CB300 race veterinarians congratulated all of the mushers on really excellent dog care during the race. They said that the overall level of dog care was so good that they found it difficult to spotlight just one musher to receive their Humanitarian Award.

What they were really struck by, though, was the fact that one kennel -- SP Kennel -- showed such extraordinary dog care across all three of its teams. The health and fitness of the dogs coming into the race, the care they received during the race and how great they all looked at the end of the race. So, in a first ever, the CB300 race veterinarians presented this year's Humanitarian Award not to a single musher, but to SP Kennel as a whole!

I'm sure you can imagine the Team's excitement. It may not be quite enough to console Allen about not winning the race, but he certainly feels a little better about his performance now. Aliy, of course, is downright beaming. "I never thought I could be more proud than when I won the Iditarod Humanitarian Award in 2005" she said. "But this might be the moment."

And Bridgett? Well, seconds after I hung up with Aliy, I received this photo and a call from her during which she exclaimed with her typical enthusiasm, "This is freaking awesome! We always tell people how much of a 'dog first' kennel we are, and now we've got a stuffed dog with harness award to prove it! Don't tell my dad, but I think this is better than if he'd won the race!"

I, for one, agree with her. Based on what I read in all of your comments throughout the race, I imagine you do too!

Here's your chance to let them know for sure!

CB300: Tuesday Agenda

The teams are all staying in Glennallen today, to be on hand for the banquet this evening. They will then drive back to the kennel tonight and arrive early morning. I just visited with the dogs and they are all happily snoozing in the trucks. Their agenda for today is pretty simple: sleep, eat, repeat. The human agenda is almost the same: feed dogs, sleep, eat, repeat.

I'm loading up to drive back now. We hear it's at least -40 in Two rivers, so it makes sense for one of us to get there sooner rather than later to check on things.

Many thanks to all of you for your enthusiasm and interaction during the CB300. It's been a great race weekend and we are all so happy and honored that you were here with us!

Monday, January 11, 2010

CB300: Bridgett At Finish!

Bridgett has just finished #24 with a happy, healthy, even frisky dog
team. She is in great shape, almost bubbling over with enthusiasm.
Dogs have all eaten a big, hot meal with gusto and are now tucked into
their boxes. We are all heading back to get some sleep after a
resoundingly successful CB300... Three great teams, three great
finishes! Good night!

CB300: Finish Follow-Ups

Truth is, I'm pretty beat... But, I don't want the excitement of the weekend to just fizzle out or the success of SP Kennel to go unheralded. So, I'm going to try to put together a few more follow-up posts before I crash.

Allen, Aliy and Doug and are all back here at HQ getting a little sleep. Ray has hit the road to get back to work in Fairbanks. Bob called to report that Bridgett has cleared the Glennallen checkpoint. We will all go back out to Tolsona to see her finish some time around 11 or so.

The Black and Red team dogs have had multiple snacks and two hot meals, and are all resting out in the dog truck. They were reunited with the dropped dogs who all seem to be quite happy. Spending time in the dog truck is no hardship for any of them. They are quite comfy in their straw-filled boxes, enjoying frequent opportunities to get out and stretch... and, of course, to eat like hounds!

I've skimmed through my footage for the day, and although it looks like there may be some stuff of the teams running along the road that might be useful, nothing really stood out for editing into a video for you. Maybe when I can see it with my eyelids open it will look different.

I did find a few photos that are worth sharing. Here is Allen's Black Team approaching the finish line at Tolsona.

All 12 dogs and the musher are tired and a bit crusty-faced, but running right through to the end. At the finish line, you can barely see Allen conferring with the officials while the dogs chow down on their first of many snacks... and while Jeff King takes a good look at the dogs who almost ran him down!

Here is Aliy running along the road on approach to the Tolsona finish. The light was pretty dim and I was hiding behind my truck, but you can see that several of the dogs spotted me.

Aliy just called to say it's time to get something to eat. So, I'll leave it at that for now. I'll try to post an update after we see Bridgett!

CB300: So Close!

Along the road for the final stretch from Glennallen to Tolsona, this is how close it got between Allen Moore and Jeff King.

CB300: Aliy Finishes In Eleventh Place

Aliy has finished the CB300 in excellent form, crossing the line in eleventh place. Allen was on hand to greet her, and we look forward to greeting Bridgett sometime around midnight tonight!

CB300: Allen Moore Takes Second

Allen had a tangle leaving Glennallen, costing him several minutes.
Jeff King held tough to the end, winning by seven minutes. Congrats to

CB300: Glennallen Update

After racing up and down the highway looking for Allen, I finally spotted him just as he was approaching the Glennallen Checkpoint. By the time I got parked and ran to the line, he was already pulling away. I just barely got the shot in the previous post.

Ray, Doug and Doc Mike were there, looking at their watches... and smiling. Allen has made up 22 minutes on the 50 mile run from Chisto to Glennallen. He has 24 more miles to Tolsona to make up the remaining 2 minutes. You can look at the times/speeds and do the math!!!

If you aren't excited now, you don't have a pulse!

I'm hitting the road again to track them down en route to Tolsona... Stay tuned!

CB300: Allen Through Glennallen

Allen leaving Glennallen Checkpoint ONLY TWO MINUTES BEHIND Jeff King!!!!!!! 24 miles to Tolsona finish!

CB300: Sunday Monday Morning Update

Good morning!

The race status is the same as it was last night... Allen left Chisto 24 minutes after Jeff, and I'm sure he's "getting after it."

I just happened to see Big Red, so I stopped to take a look at who is inside and found Minnie and Bonita. There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with them, so I assume Aliy dropped them for the usual small issues. I'll try to find out, but it may not be until after the race.

I'm headed back out the door to see if I can catch sight of Allen along the road into Glennallen. It's still dark, of course, but I'll do my best!

CB300: Allen In Chistochina

The 2+ hour drive from Paxson to Chisto was pretty rough, with snow blowing wildly across the road most of the way. When I stepped out of my truck in Chisto at about 11pm, I was greeted by a good old arctic blast. It was cold and windy!

Allen arrived right on schedule at 11:35 with all 12 dogs still looking great. They were quite eager for their snack, straw and meal which you can see Allen working on right away as always.

Once that was all in place, we "did the math" and came up with the following: Allen will take his last four hours of rest, then leave at 3:35 and go non-stop to the finish. Jeff King arrived in Chisto at 9:11 -- after running a virtually identical time as Allen from Paxson -- needing to take six hours of rest which would allow him to leave at 3:11. Thus, Allen is 24 minutes behind Jeff with 75 miles to go. Allen is, of course, chomping at the bit to "get after it" with all 12 of his dogs. Jeff will have 10 dogs leaving Chisto, if I heard correctly that he is dropping a dog there.

It is going to be an exciting finish! Stay tuned!

CB300: Paxson Checkpoint

Here is the video from Paxson Checkpoint which includes some footage I think you will really enjoy of Bridgett arriving and settling in for her 8 hour mandatory rest, plus Aliy's 90 second pit stop!

(PS - Yes, it's 2am... I've been to Chisto and now back here at HQ in Glennallen... Stand by for update!)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CB300: Internet Delay

Sorry folks!... I got a Paxson video mashed together, and it's a pretty good one.

Unfortunately when I tried to upload it, the timer said it would take almost three hours at available speed. I can't wait that long before I leave for Chisto, so I'm afraid it will have to wait. I doubt there is internet in Chisto, but you never know...

I'll post it as soon as I can, but don't expect anything from me for another three hours or so while I drive. You can take a nap, but don't oversleep!

CB300: Aliy Through Paxson

Aliy came whipping through the Paxson checkpoint just a few minutes ago, and I caught all 90 seconds of it! She and her team looked great.

I think I've got just enough time to whip up a Paxson video and upload it before I leave... Stay tuned!

CB300: Doc Mike Talks About Dropped Dogs

We got this question in the comments:
"What happens between when a dog gets injured and when the dog gets dropped at a checkpoint? Does the musher continue running the dog (I see enough active, happy-looking three-legged dogs to get that it's possible)? Or does the dog ride? Is sled riding part of what the dogs are trained to do?
I wanted to give you a good, full response, but it would take me more time than I've got to write it up. So, I went outside and found our good friend Dr. Mike Davis -- who is a race vet here in Paxson -- and asked him to talk about it. Thanks Doc Mike!

CB300: Allen Through Paxson

Allen just came through Paxson so fast I didn't even see him. As I've overheard it described here in the lodge: "Allen just came roaring through here like a freight train." Bob says he looks great, sounds great and is definitely getting after it. He will now tackle the big hills en route to Chistochina and should arrive there around midnight.

I'm going to stay here and try to catch Aliy passing through. I will also continue struggling with the internet here and see if I can post some more updates for you.

Bridgett has fed her dogs, fed herself and crawled in a corner to get some sleep. I'll check in with her when she gets up at 9pm, then probably had to Chistochina to be there for Allen. Stay tuned!

CB300: Meier's Lake Video

CB300: Meier's Lake Video

By now you all probably know the checkpoint procedure by heart: The team arrives, checks in and parks, the dogs get a snack and straw, the musher puts on water to heat, booties come off and jackets go on, a hot meal is served, etc., etc.

I'm trying not to have our coverage be too redundant, so I'm not including all that stuff in this video. What you get to see instead is a nice couple of clips showing Aliy feeding her dogs, and her dogs enjoying their food. After that, it continues with Bridgett's pass through, as she pulls ahead of the other teams for the first time!

I spent only a few minutes with Allen and Aliy at the checkpoint, and they were sufficiently in need of quiet time and rest that I didn't bug them for interviews. Rest assured that we will get plenty from them soon!

CB300: Bridgett In Paxson

videoBridgett is here in Paxson, starting her 8 hour rest. It's taking over
an hour to upload my Meier's Lake video on the Internet here, so
here's a quick video of Bridgett via iPhone. Stay tuned!

CB300: Meier's Lake Checkpoint

I arrived at Meier's Lake Checkpoint and was a bit surprised to find Aliy's team there. I quickly learned that the CB300 website updates were inaccurate, and there's no telling which data is right and which is wrong. I can certainly appreciate the difficulty of getting good intel from the far reaches of the course, so we'll just have to bear with it.

As per plan, both Allen and Aliy were taking their mandatory 8 hour rests in Meier's Lake. All 12 of Allen's dogs were in great shape, eating and resting well. Aliy dropped Huey back in Sourdough due to some generic front end soreness. Dr. Mike Davis was at the checkpoint and explained to me that the dogs aren't bad off, they just won't be very helpful to Aliy through the rest of the race. As is typical for Aliy, she dropped both dogs rather than risk any kind of serious injury.

Here you can see Aliy feeding her dogs, all of whom gobbled it up.

In addition to giving the dogs multiple feedings, Allen and Aliy have both had a little time to eat something and get some rest. Here they are at the diner counter of the Meier's Lake Roadhouse.

Meanwhile, Ray and Bob are taking a break of their own as they wait for Bridgett to arrive. Keep in mind that it's about -30 with the wind chill and they're happy to have a straw bale to sit on.

Bridgett arrived a bit ahead of her schedule, took only a few minutes to snack her dogs, check booties, etc., then headed down the trail.

I expect to see her here soon and will report ASAP… Provided, of course, the internet here at the Paxson Lodge holds up… Stay tuned!

CB300: Meier's Lake Update

CB website wrong, Aliy still here for 8 hour. Huey was second dropped
dog, front sprain. All others good, eating and resting well. Allen
resting, team resting, all well. Bridgett due in soon. Crossed fingers
for cell signal. More as soon as...

CB300: Overnight/Morning Update

Good morning! I was just heading out the door when I got this update from Scotty -- Bridgett's husband -- after his visit with the teams in Sourdough. I don't know who Aliy's second dropped dog is, but I will find out as soon as possible and let you know. I'm sure you've been watching the updates on the CB300 website and have seen that Allen's speeds/times have been exceptional. Looking at those stats, I can tell you there has also been an overnight change of strategy. I will find out about that as well and report to you as soon as I can. Now I'm hitting the road... Stay tuned!

If you are having trouble with the embedded mp3 player, you can click here to access the mp3 file directly and play it however your computer normally handles mp3 files.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

CB300: Final Saturday Update

It's just about midnight, so here's a final update for the day:

Exactly on plan and schedule, Allen and Aliy took a two hour rest in Wolverine then ran to Sourdough where they are now. I just had a pretty garbled phone call with Bob who I'm pretty sure said that Aliy dropped Moonpie in Wolverine due to a sore wrist. Everyone and everything else seems to be fine. Also exactly on plan and schedule, Bridgett took a five hour rest in Wolverine and is now on her way to Sourdough with all 12 dogs. As usual, I can't tell you what the plan is going forward, but I can tell you that the SP Kennel Team strategies are playing out very well.

I am going to take a few hours of mandatory rest before heading up the highway to a combination of visits at Sourdough, Meier's Lake and Paxson... Stay tuned!

CB300: Wolverine Checkpoint

All three teams arrived at the Wolverine Checkpoint within about an hour of each other and were there together for about an hour before Allen and Aliy took off. I was happy to make the most of it and have edited together a sampling of footage from all three teams that I think will give you a pretty good sense of the whole.

CB300: Tolsona Checkpoint

Operating under the premise of "fast is better than fancy", I did very little editing to the last two videos and posted them without text. Luckily, the raw video was pretty tight and self-explanatory, so they didn't need much. This video needs a little set up.

I wanted to give you an accurate sense of what a quick checkpoint pass-through is like, so I have not edited any of the raw footage in this video as I would ordinarily do. This means you get a "real-time" rendition, but it also means you get some camera movement as I change positions and a bunch of side-talk that I would normally cut out -- including a little good-natured banter I have with Aliy!

CB300: On The Road To Tolsona

CB300: Starts

CB300: Stand By For Updates

Howdy!... I'm back at my HQ in Glennallen from Wolverine, where Allen and Aliy were getting ready to depart for Sourdough. Both teams look fantastic and are right on -- or ahead of -- their schedules. They made a "full stop" -- giving the dogs snacks, straw to rest on and a hot meal -- but kept it to only two hours. So, the dogs had a nice break, but after taking care of them the mushers only had a few minutes to pop into the lodge and take care of themselves. Both Aliy and Allen are in very positive spirits about their teams, the trail and themselves.

Bridgett came in right on time behind them, with a team that also looks great. She is ecstatic and it was really fun to see all three teams at the checkpoint at the same time, even if only for a little while. Bridgett will stay at Wolverine a bit longer than Aliy and Allen did. She has a somewhat more conservative race plan, but I wouldn't put anything out of the question for her!

I've got a TON of video from the starts this morning, from Tolsona and from Wolverine. I will edit it and post it just as fast as I can. Meanwhile, here's a "teaser" of the Red Team coming into Tolsona. Stand by and stay tuned!

CB300: Allen Second Into Wolverine

The team looks fantastic and Allen is stoked. Aliy also here, right on
his tail in fifth. Bridgett due in soon. All teams will rest here.
More later...

CB300: Start Photos -- Quick Update

Howdy! I'm zipping through my HQ with just enough time to post this quick update from the start before racing down to Tolsona and Wolverine.

All three teams had excellent starts... Right on time and looking great! I have some really good video that I will edit and post this evening. Meanwhile... In the photos below:

Some of the dogs put on their game faces at the truck while their harnesses await them. Our three SP Kennel mushers pose for a photo op. The entire human team -- Fran, Scotty, Bridgett, Doug, Aliy, Allen, Bob and Ray.

You may have realized that I uploaded the photos in the three previous posts directly from my iPhone to Blogger, within minutes of taking them. That technology is pretty cool, but it doesn't allow me to do any enhancing of the photos... So, I have included them again here after doing a bit of cropping and adjusting for dim light, etc.: Allen checks on his leaders. Aliy reviews her team. Bridgett is as excited as she can be!

I'm off... Look for a full report as soon as possible!

CB300: Bridgett Is Away!

CB300: Aliy At Start

CB300: Allen Checks Leaders At Start

This Is Going To Get Tricky!

Good morning!

It's 8:30 am on Saturday... All three teams are now over in the starting area, doing all the stuff necessary to get the dogs and the mushers ready to race. I'll be heading over there as soon as I click the "publish post" button...

Start times for Allen, Aliy and Bridgett are 10:10, 10:20 and 10:36 respectively. As soon as Bridgett's team is away, I will hustle back here to my "headquarters" and try to post a quick update. I will have only a very few minutes to do so because I'll need to hustle down the road to Tolsona to (hopefully) catch the teams coming through! After Tolsona, I will race further down the road to Wolverine to do the same. According to plan, the teams will arrive in Wolverine at 3:10, 3:20 and 4:06... I will probably be out of daylight then, so I will shoot what I can and race back here to my "headquarters" and process the day's media.

So... I'm hoping to give you a quick update -- maybe only a photo or two -- before noon, then a full update this evening. After that... Well, it will all be in flux so I'll have to let you know as I figure it out!

Friday, January 8, 2010

CB300: Line-Up Update

The good news is that all of the dogs on both the Black Team and Red Team are 100% healthy and solid, so those two teams will run with Allen and Aliy exactly as reported in the Howler.

The Red/Black Team with Bridgett at the helm, however, will have two substitutions. Both Betsy and Cutter showed signs of soreness and stiffness this morning and have been scratched from the team. It's always unfortunate when a dog is prevented from running -- and ever so sad for the poor hounds who have to miss out on what they love doing most! -- but you know that SP Kennel is a "dog first" kennel, and that the health and safety of the dogs comes first.

Their replacements will be Minnie and KitKat, and we look forward to great things from them this weekend!