Friday, February 28, 2014

ID: Meet and Greet

Earlier this evening several hundred people came to the Clarion Suites to meet and greet Aliy, Allen and the rest of the team. We heard stories from the trail including the time Aliy had to fashion mukluks 50 miles from Nome from her brand new pants and dog jackets and the time Allen had to carry each member of his team individually up Eagle Summit in his first Yukon Quest.

L-R: Aliy talks about leggings and jackets; Allen describes Eagle Summit.

They spoke about their sleds and the mandatory gear they have to carry for the Iditarod and explained some of the equipment the dogs wear out on the trail including jackets, booties and leggings. Everyone then got to meet Quito, Mac, Ranger and Honda. I'm sure those that were there won't mind me saying but there was an audible gasp of admiration as Quito was introduced. She really is a special dog.

Thank you to Clarion Suites for hosting the event and to all those who came out tonight.

ID: Thank You Clarion Suites and Quality Suites

When ever anyone from the SP Kennel crew, human or canine, comes to Anchorage we stay at the Clarion Suites or the Quality Suites..

The Clarion is one of our Lead Dog sponsors and the Quality Suites a Team Dog sponsor. They are always so welcoming and treat the team like royalty! We really do feel at home when we stay.

Today we got a chance to thank them for everything they do for us.

The staff in the hotels also personally sponsor Scruggs so he said thanks too (and "checked-in to the Quality Suites)!

L-R: the Clarion Suites Team; the Quality Suites team

This evening at 6-7pm Aliy and Allen hold a public meet-and-greet at the Clarion so if you are in the Anchorage area please swing by - we'd love to meet you!

ID: Start and Bib Draw Banquet

Last evening the crew attended the Iditarod start and bib draw banquet at the Dena'ina Center along with a couple of thousand others! We were entertained by Hobo Jim and we learned about some race history before each musher drew their starting position.

L-R: Aliy meets a young fan; Aliy is interviewed for Channel 11.

Heading down the trail to Nome with bib number 10 is Aliy and the Red Team. Leaving the starting chute just 18 minutes behind her with bib number 19 is Allen and the Black Team.

A shout out to the children from selected schools nationwide (from Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey and Michigan) who made all the table place settings. We were lucky to get these fantastic dog chew toys - thank you!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ID: Home (Away From Home)

The rest of the team, human and canine, arrived in Anchorage this afternoon after a uneventful drive down the Parks Highway.

Scenic stop on the Parks Highway

Once they got to the Clarion Suites we gave the dogs a meal, a walk around the parking lot to orientate themselves and they even had a "we're here!!!" howl (the dogs, not the humans).

One of our favourite parts is to see long-time dog sponsors meet their dogs! This afternoon Neil and Charlotte Frick met their Pud and Ann Shillington got to meet Scout. Thanks Neil, Charlotte, Ann and all our dog sponsors for supporting our athletes! We really appreciate you.

Neil and Charlotte meet Pud, Ann meets Scout

ID: Thank You Eagle Pack

For many years Eagle Pack has been one of SP Kennel's Lead Dog sponsors. We are so grateful for the ongoing support they show our kennel and this morning we got to spend some time with some representatives, employees and distributors at a special Iditarod breakfast in Anchorage. We are proud and excited to be associated with such a great brand!

L-R: Aliy, Allen, Al Townsend (Eagle Pack's head veterinarian), Martin Buser, DeeDee Jonrowe and Karen Ramstead

All our dogs, from the time they are weaned from their momma, through their racing careers then including their retirement years, thrive on Eagle Pack dog food. We wouldn't feed them anything else!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ID: Timetable and Coverage Guide

With just a few days to go until the Iditarod starts we thought you'd like to know what happens from now.

Wednesday: in the morning the teams will have a short, final stretch out run; this is important as they won't get to run again until Saturday morning. After that is a final sled and truck check then Aliy and Allen travel down to Anchorage to attend some sponsor events on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

Thursday: Aliy and Allen have musher meetings for most of the day. The dogs and rest of the crew drive to Anchorage in time for the Start and Bib Draw banquet on Thursday evening.

Friday: in the morning the team makes more sponsor visits before the Meet-and-Greet at the Clarion Suites (our home away from home) from 6-7pm. This is a free event and open to anyone that would like to come.

Saturday: at 10am we're all involved with the Ceremonial Start in downtown Anchorage.

Sunday: at 2pm is the Re-start in Willow. Aliy, Allen and 32 dogs are on the trail towards Nome!

Photo: Sebastian Schnuelle

The Iditarod is different to the Yukon Quest and the Copper Basin in that, as handlers, we are not able to go from checkpoint to checkpoint to follow the teams. This means we cannot bring you our own photos and videos from the trail. We will be relying on other sources, just like you, to get our information and we'll do our best to summarise and consolidate information about the Red and Black teams and bring it to you here.

If you are not already an Iditarod Insider we would recommend joining - you can follow the GPS trackers and see exclusive videos from the crew that follows the teams down the trail.

Other sources of information will be the Anchorage Daily News, The Alaska Dispatch and, of course, the Iditarod Website and Facebook page.

We're excited!!! How about you?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ID: Vet Checks

Yesterday Dr Tamara Rose from TRose Veternarian Services visited the kennel and undertook thorough vet checks on 35 dogs; Aliy and Allen have narrowed their teams down from the 43 that were tested last week. The check sheet (below left) is completed for all dogs and is viewed in conjunction with the results from the ECG and blood tests from last week.

All 35 are ready to race!! Unfortunately only 32 can go so the final teams won't be decided until Saturday evening before the re-start in Willow. We will post the rosters Sunday morning so watch this space.

L-R: The vet check sheet; Felix tried his hand at being a lap dog.

L-R: Sandy helps TRose and Moira with her paperwork; Sandy undergoes her vet check.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dog Fan Club Draw #7 - Iditarod

Congratulations to SANDI ZIEGLER who has won our first Iditarod themed Dog Fan Club Draw. Sandi is a fan of SANDY and was one of our very first fan club members, joining back in October. Sandi wins a Iditarod drop bag (right) along with some other goodies.

See below a short video so you can get to know Sandy a little better!

The next fan club draw is NEXT WEEK! We will do a bonus draw on Sunday, March 2nd - the day of the Iditarod re-start and the winner of that draw will win a copy of the 2013 Iditarod race documentary DVD. The names of everyone who hasn't already won and all new members will be in the draw.

Remember too that everyone who is a fan club member by 1 March will receive a collectors postcard sent from Nome!

Click the button below for instructions on how to join:

Click this button below to take you directly to the Dog Fan Page.

Friday, February 21, 2014

ID: Blood Draw and ECGs

Before running the Iditarod, every dog must undergo thorough veterinarian checks, blood testing and have an electrocardiograph (ECG) to ensure they are fit and healthy to run 1,000 miles.

These are compulsory checks for all dogs that compete and the results of these tests are scrutinised by Iditarod vets; any dog that doesn't meet strict requirements will not run the race. If you are interested in more information about this please check out the Iditarod website rules section.

On Wednesday we took 43 "possibles" to town for their blood draw and ECGs. Thanks to volunteer vet techs Sara, Sophie, Jenna and Jan for the care they took with our friends!

L-R: Nelson gets some reassurance from Sara as Sophie takes a blood sample; Ranger has his ECG from Jenna and Jan while Meghan gives him some love.

A thorough veterinarian check will take place for all of these dogs next week!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

ID: Iditarod Drop Bags

While everything else has been going on we also had Iditarod drop bags to get ready! It was a challenge for Aliy and Allen to have their heads in two races at a time, preparing for the Yukon Quest race and the Iditarod drop bags in the same week.

These bags will be transported out to all the checkpoints along the trail and include dog food and snacks, human food and snacks, dog jackets and booties, vet supplies, spare harnesses, sled equipment, human clothing and supplies and various other bits and pieces critical to running the race. It takes a lot of planning to ensure they have the right things in the right places to fit their various race plans and contingencies.

While we were all over in Canada, Kaz finished off the bags and laced them all up ready to go. Thank you Kaz, we love you. Thanks also to Wes and Tom for their help getting them to town for pick-up by the Iditarod Trail Committee volunteers on February 10th.

L-R: Meghan and Aliy sort the meat snacks; all the bags packed and ready for shipping.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

YQ: The Yukon Quest Journey

As we wrap up our Yukon Quest coverage and look ahead to the Iditarod, take a look back over Allen and the Black Team's journey through the 2014 Yukon Quest 1000.

Music: "Tour Bus" - Apple Inc

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

YQ: Prizegiving and Banquet - Video

Here are some snippets of video from the Yukon Quest Prizegiving and Banquet.

Monday, February 17, 2014

YQ: Prizegiving and Banquet

Saturday evening in Whitehorse the finishers banquet and prizegiving was held at the convention centre. Hundreds of people turned up to hear the mushers tell some trail stories and to have an opportunity to thank and applaud the vets, Rangers, officials, photographers and volunteers. It was a fun night!

For winning, Allen received a special handcrafted Yukon Quest knife from Alaska Rod's, with a 2014 Champion engraved on it. Also received a hand-made beaver fur hat from the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation in Dawson and a $1,000 cheque from NorthwesTel to donate to the charity of his choice. He chose the Yukon Special Olympics.

The banquet room

L-R: Matt Hall (who won not only 3rd place but Rookie of the Year, Veterinarians’ Choice and “Challenge of the North”) and Allen with two of the Canadian Rangers; the Rangers receive thanks.

L-R: John Schandlemeier (5th); Ken Anderson (4th); the Dawson Gold

L-R: Aliy with Brian Wilmshurst (10th and Sportsmanship Award); Allen with his winner's trophy, a beautiful handcrafted and engraved knife from Alaska Rod's.

I have some video to go through so will post that later today (all going according to plan).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

YQ300: Aliy Cam

Aliy took her video camera with her on the YQ300 and captured some spectacular scenery! Take the journey with her…

Friday, February 14, 2014

YQ: Quito's Week In Whitehorse

Quito is spending the week in Whitehorse with Aliy and Allen. So far she has gone for a couple of runs by the river, visited Gerry Willomitzer's kennel and been given the royal treatment at the High Country Inn. On Saturday she will attend the Yukon Quest Banquet before heading home to Two Rivers.

Nicole from the High Country Inn gives Quito treats; Quito visits Gerry's house

YQ: The Team Arrive Home

The team arrived home safely after the long drive from Whitehorse. We gave them a warm meal and tucked them into their straw beds for a long sleep and yesterday they were rearing to go so Meghan and I took them on a short, slow stretch out run.

It was nice for us to get back on the runners too as we had spent the last week watching everyone else!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

YQ: Meet the Team

Allen and Aliy tell us about each of the Yukon Quest Champions.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

YQ: Finish Line Interview

In case you missed it - here is the Suitcase Media/Yukon Quest's video of Allen's interview at the finish line.

Thanks to the team for the amazing coverage of the race! We're in awe of your images and videos and you really capture the spirit and passion of the Yukon Quest - thank you.

YQ: A Few Days Later

Right now there are three important things going on for the dogs: eating, sleeping and gently stretching out. Much the same is happening for Allen too! Soon, though, they will all start getting restless and want to get properly moving again so we're taking the dogs home to Two Rivers tomorrow where they can be back in their own houses. Over the next week we will take them on some short, slow stretch out runs on home trails before building back up for the Iditarod.

Scout and Nacho enjoy their beefy, kibble breakfast

Mac can't wait for seconds, Chica wolfs her breakfast down

Allen, Aliy and Quito stay in Whitehorse for the banquet - we'll do a post later about how Queen Quito will spend her week in Whitehorse.

- Moira

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dog Fan Club Draw #6 - Yukon Quest

Congratulations to WILLIAM LAINE from Georgia who has won our second Yukon Quest themed Dog Fan Club Draw.

William is a fan of Yukon Quest Golden Harness winner QUITO (who isn't?) and wins a Yukon Quest T-shirt.

We will get that out to you as soon as possible William, thanks for joining the fan club!

The next draw is due on Sunday, February 21st and the names of everyone who hasn't already won and all new members will be in the draw for an Iditarod related prize.

Click the button below for instructions on how to join:

Click this button below to take you directly to the Dog Fan Page.

YQ: Crossing the Line - Video

See the moment when Allen, Quito, Scruggs, Nacho, Boondocks, Chica, Mac, Scout, Olivia, Clyde, Biscuit, Schmoe, Puppet, Chemo and Beemer become the 2014 Yukon Quest Champions.

YQ: More Pictures from the Finish Line

Allen at the finish line

The handler crew

Thanks to Thibaut and Karina from Balzam Cafe at the Takhini Hot Springs for the steak dinner!

We're heading back to the hotel and I will work on some video overnight

2014 Yukon Quest Champs

Allen hugs Quito at the finish line at Takhini Hot Springs.

More to come.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

YQ: Black Team Leaves Braeburn - Video

The Black Team leaves Braeburn on the final run of the 2014 Yukon Quest.

Take a look at Quito as she comes past the camera - doesn't she look proud of herself to be single-leading this team to Takhini? And also take a look at how Allen takes time to talk to each dog on the way out, I love watching that. And… seriously… Mac and Boondocks? I'll never get sick of seeing that!

Obviously, after 900-odd miles the team is not slamming into their harnesses to go another 65 but they still looked really well rested and like they were happy to do it for Allen. "Okay Boss, let's do this".

The amount of kibble that the team ate during the eight hour break means that there will have definitely been a "peeing and pooping" wave go through the team for the first couple of miles. Aliy even joked with a photographer that he might be better to head a few miles down the trail if he wanted a good picture!

Allen planned to make this run much like a training run and stop several times for snacks and rest breaks and the speed plot on his tracker confirms that. You can be sure he will enjoy this last run in the Yukon wilderness with his awesome team.

We've stopped briefly at the hotel in Whitehorse where we hope to rest a little before heading out to Takhini Hot Spring to greet the team later tonight.

- Moira

YQ: Heading To The Finish Line

What a difference 24 hours can make. At this time last night, Allen was competing for feet and inches. Tonight he is cruising toward the finish line with something like an 8 hour lead. I'm reminded of how Allen was quoted before the race began: "Crap is gonna happen!" It certainly did, and we hope everyone is okay.

Many of you have asked for my prediction about what time Allen will finish. I've been unable to accommodate you because I was privy to his plan to stay longer at Braeburn in order to visit with Brent, but had no idea how long that might be.

I still don't have a very reliable time to offer, because it appears on the tracker that Allen is taking it pretty easy with his team on the trail. His speeds look to be in the 5-7 mph range, so it's likely they will travel the 65 miles to the finish in about 10 hours.

The team left Braeburn at 3:30pm so that would put them at the finish around 1-2am. Honestly, though, that's just a guess. I'm not completely sure what time zone they're in!

I haven't heard from the crew about their whereabouts, but I think they've left Braeburn and are on the road. Due to weather conditions, the finish line has been moved to Takhini Hot Springs, some 20 miles or so up the road from Whitehorse. There's no telling what kind of internet connection Moira may find there, but you can be sure she will do her best to keep you posted... Stay tuned!

YQ: Braeburn Update

It certainly turned into a dramatic day with what happened to Brent Sass - please go to the Yukon Quest website for the official information about this. It deeply affected everyone here at Braeburn to see the events unfolding.

You will see that Allen and the team left Braeburn at 3.28pm - he stayed longer than his mandatory eight hours as he wanted to spend some time with Brent. I don't know what was said when he and Aliy visited with him just before he was transported to Whitehorse, and I won't ask but I know that Allen wished he knew what was going on behind him. He had no way to tell and when he came in to Braeburn this morning he presumed Brent was not far behind him. He is very disappointed for Brent and his team and was fully expecting this final leg to be a head-to-head battle between them.

Allen left on the final 65-ish mile run with 11 dogs, BEEMER gets to do the final leg in the truck with us. He's fine, just didn't appear to be excited about going and if he's not having fun he is better to catch up on his rest. Quito lead the team out in single lead, Schmoe and Nacho in swing, Chica and Scout behind them, Boondocks is still running with Mac, Clyde gets to run with Olivia and Biscuit and Scruggs will run in wheel. It's quite a juggle about, just really to mix it up a bit for the final run.

Before we left the checkpoint we waited for Brent's team to arrive. His handlers asked everyone here to give the dogs a cheer as they came in so they knew they had finished the race! They deserve their kudos for a well run race and they looked great coming in. It was quite a moving moment.

I'll work on some video as soon as I can. We will head for the finish line to set up for the team to arrive over night and I am unsure on the internet situation there.

- Moira