Day 2

Today was exciting! Lots of drama and lots of tangles. It was cold and clear today. -15F when I started, -20F when I finished. I saw lots of friendly faces at the start line today... it was especially nice to see Mrs. C, Martin Buser's wife and my kindergarten teacher. After having so many nice passes yesterday, I was relaxed and looking forward to going out again today. Greg Sellentin stopped by to have a look at the dogs and Dad's new Sled Dog Systems sled. He helped me with the drag mat and did a little pre-race interview. By the emphasis he placed on the dog's fur and the low temps, you would think I was running woolly mammoths. I really don't think our dogs are any furrier than some of the dogs on the trucks next to us, but yes, maybe they are prettier ;)

The dogs moved even better today than they did yesterday, but we had to stop SO MANY TIMES, that I ended up adding ten minutes to my time from the day before. I had to stop for other team's tangles, my own team's tangles, to let people by, and wait for them to untangle their dogs. The trail was swarming with snowmachiners. I had a major clusterf*ck in a narrow spot of woods when I met three machines on a tight corner. A few of my dogs balked and got themselves tangled. We met a cute little kid with a six dog team and his dad on a snowmachine. I didn't have any trouble passing, but the team ahead of me caught them on a corner and I had to wait for them to untangle themselves. Some people apparently thought there was a loose team out there; the kid was so small you could barely see him over the handlebars!

As they got tired, my team revealed themselves to be fairly undisciplined, something we are going to have to work on in the coming weeks before Knik 200. We had some difficulty passing teams from behind, especially while they were snacking! I made a bad call and brought Ruby along today. I ended up loading her 17 miles in; she was too tired to go on. But I found the sled tracked much nicer with her in the bag, so it was easier to kick and pole. This was the longest training weekend the dogs have had yet! 80 miles in 2 days. The run today wasn't clean, but it was strong. It was just the type of training we were looking for. The dogs did great for their very first race! I'll take out them all out again tomorrow to stretch their legs and have a look at them.

Today's Lineup was:
Major Tuffy
Ruby Robber
Goofy Doc
Sleepy Wes

Here are the Day 2 and Final Results:

1 Ryan Redington 5:49:32 $3,000.00
2 James Wheeler 5:52:13 $2,000.00
3 Ariane Jasmin 6:03:33 $1,500.00
4 Cim Smyth 6:04:35 $1,000.00
5 Wade Marrs 6:07:02 $500.00
6 Robert Redington 6:11:42 5 bags of Red Paw from Kasilof Enterprises
7 Travis Beals 6:31:22 Beaver Mitts from Ryan and Erin Redington
8 Jeff King 6:39:54
9 Ken Anderson 6:41:26
10 Corinne Zurflueh 6:47:45
11 Ellen Donoghue 7:02:50
12 Matt Hudson 7:31:14
13 Dream a Dream 7:48:43
14 Kristin Bacon 7:49:06
15 Luan Marques 8:00:22
16 Jane Adkins 8:00:43
17 Jason Shelley 8:00:49
18 Christine Roalofs 8:24:17
19 Anja Radano 8:28:27
20 Kailyn 8:29:07
21 Lisbet Norris 8:33:42
22 Susan Whiton 8:47:24
23 Gwen Bogart 9:17:44
24 Vern Halter 9:19:30
25 Joe Meyer 9:54:21
26 Marilyn Storey 10:02:53

Day 2 Time
1 James Wheeler 2:56:24
2 Ryan Redington 3:00:03
3 Cim Smyth 3:02:05
4 Wade Marrs 3:02:52
5 Ariane Jasmin 3:06:55
6 Robert Redington 3:06:59
7 Travis Beals 3:08:04
8 Ellen Donoghue 3:17:14
9 Ken Anderson 3:18:25
10 Jeff King 3:19:22
11 Corinne Zurflueh 3:22:13
12 Jason Shelley 3:35:27
13 Matt Hudson 3:40:55
14 Erin McLarnon 3:48:44
15 Kristin Bacon 3:51:12
16 Gwen Bogart 3:52:58
17 Luan Marques 4:00:00
18 Jane Adkins 4:02:55
19 Christine Roalofs 4:12:33
20 Vern Halter 4:15:03
21 Susan Whiton 4:15:32
22 Lisbet Norris 4:22:31
23 Anja Radano 4:26:49
24 Kailyn 4:30:54
25 Joe Meyer 4:31:56
26 Marilyn Storey 4:56:33
Skeeter Stitt scratch

A big thanks to Erin & Ryan Redington for organizing the race, and to Martin and Mrs. C for hosting! 


Day 1

Day 1 went great! Every head on pass I had was PERFECT. I was so pleased, and really impressed with everyone's dogs. I had Kozy in single lead. The dogs surprised me; I had to hold them back for much longer than I anticipated, 30 miles, before they settled into the traveling pace I wanted. By then they were a little tired, but I peddled and we maintained our pace.

The line-up today was:

Ruby Linnea
Daphnie Tuffy
Wes Frigg
Major Doc

Kozy and Doc are the only experienced dogs in the team. Major has been to a race or two, and Tuffy has skijored with me in Fairbanks, but this was the first time out of the kennel for the rest. The dogs were exposed to all sorts of strange things: photographers, moose, hooligans on snowmachines, and last of all, a terrifying food wagon !

Turning the corner from the starting area into the swamp we flushed a mama moose and two yearlings out of some spruce. They crossed the trail and headed north, away from the team thankfully. The trail was hard and fast and it was so beautiful out there... It was about 0 degrees and clear. Going out, hoarfrost covered everything in the swamps and the rising sun lit up the only the very tops of the trees. A pink morning fog covered parts of Red Shirt lake and the sounds of my team were muffled by the still air and my fur hat. I was alone on the trail for about 20 minutes, and then it was a steady stream of passing and meeting teams all the way to the end.  I had no problems meeting or being passed by teams and the december sunlight was so nice to mush in!

My goal was to finish in under five hours: my actual time was a little over four hours, making for an average pace of 10mph. I'm planning on leaving the little girls at home tomorrow and putting in three fresh big boys: Robber, Goofy and Sleepy. If I can keep my pace up, I will hopefully avoid being passed, but the teams in front of me are about ten minutes ahead, so unless they exhausted their dogs today I doubt I will be moving up in the standings.

Today's Results:

1 Ryan Redington 2:49:29.00
2 James Wheeler 2:55:49.00
3 Ariane Jasmin 2:56:38.00
4 Cim Smyth 3:02:30.00
5 Wade Marrs 3:04:10.00
6 Robert Redington 3:04:43.00
7 Jeff King 3:20:32.00
8 Ken Anderson 3:23:01.00
9 Travis Beals 3:23:18.00
10 Corinne Zurflueh 3:25:32.00
11 Skeeter Stitt 3:33:04.00
12 Ellen Donoghue 3:45:36.00
13 Matt Hudson 3:50:19.00
14 Jane Adkins 3:57:48.00
15 Kristin Bacon 3:57:54.00
16 Kailyn 3:58:13.00
17 Dream a Dream 3:59:59.00
18 Luan Marques 4:00:22.00
19 Anja Radano 4:01:38.00
20 Lisbet Norris 4:11:11.00
21 Christine Roalofs 4:11:44.00
22 Jason Shelley 4:25:22.00
23 Susan Whiton 4:31:52.00
24 Vern Halter 5:04:27.00
25 Marilyn Storey 5:06:20.00
26 Joe Meyer 5:22:25.00
27 Gwen Bogart 5:24:46.00
28 Paul Gauthier DNS

Booting up at daybreak. See Wes hiding under the truck?

Lisbet, Elliott, and JP (Dad) right before the start. 
Talking to Ryan "Green Machine" Redington after the race. 


race is on

We got enough snow for the Alaska Excursions race!!

We've been doing some longer training runs this week in preparation. Heavy snowfall this week has made for slow punchy trails, so four hours of hard work doesn't get us too far mileage-wise -- but the dogs are getting quality training time on the sled, which is just as if not more important. I am running the race as a regular training run. There is no better practice for racing than participating in a race!  I am looking forward to the passing practice, hoping my dogs behave themselves and stay on the right side of the trail and out of any other teams. Since September, I've only met three teams and a neighbor on a snow machine while out training, so this will be great experience for the dogs.  The temperature is starting to drop so hopefully the trail sets up nicely! Wish me luck.  

For more info or to follow along, check out the AK Excursions FB page:  http://www.facebook.com/alaskaexcursions120

chasing trains and breaking trail


what's new..

SNOW! 8"+ and still snowing. Took a 7 dog team out tonight with the sled. So incredibly nice and smooth! Looking forward to running everyone else tomorrow in the daylight. Picked up some thread for Mom yesterday. She is making a parka for me ! Can't wait to have one of my own. E and I planned to meet friends in town last night to watch a hockey game, but called it off on account of the snowstorm. Big Lake didn't get as much snow as Willow, only about 5 inches so it remains to be seen if there will be a race next weekend. We find out for sure on Wednesday. I discovered Downton Abbey this week so guess how I've been spending my downtime? Beer, holiday popcorn, and Hulu + make for a happy musher indeed.


chilly days

-20F today. Ran the team for 3 hrs in the last bit of daylight. Came home under the stars. Mom had hot cocoa for me when I got in... Thanks mom!


a bit of press

Recently, I was flattered to be featured on the popular Norwegian mushing blog Sjekkpunktet (The Checkpoint). Thanks to Anki Ødegaard, who wrote the article and translated my bad Norwegian to good Norwegian. Below is the barely passable, but funny, Google translation:

In the Blood

Lisbet Skogen Norris (24) has been mushing with mother's milk. Almost. Mom Kari Skogen was the first Norwegian woman who completed the Iditarod. She was No. 35 of 67 teams starting in 1984, and Dad Norris has competed in the sprint for many years. Skogen Norris family has always had dogs. It is Anadyr Sibierians applicable to Alaskan Kennels. But it then goes away with them. We found a movie clip from a few years back.

It was only last year that Lisbet began to think seriously about whether she would be a musher. After graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she traveled to Alta's job at Roger Dahl.

- There, I learned a lot, says Lisbet, and I decided to continue with the dog racing at home in Alaska. Besides dog training jobs Lisbet in the family store, Underdog Feeds. According to Johanne Sundby landed Robert Sørlie winning lead in 2003 as a store display there.

Anyway, Lisbet has two goals for this season: Conduct several successful middle-distance. Definition of a successful run is for her dogs and mushers are quick and healthy after the finish. The location is secondary. Then she will qualify for the Yukon Quest / Iditarod.

Initially, Lisbet registered Knik 200 and Northern Lights 300 This means that the "mid-distance" over there are long distance at home. And the father of the house is still focused on Fur RONDY.

- It's cool to have teams from the same kennel in both types of races, says Lisbet. I'll have fun in winter, I still have lots to learn, says the relatively fresh musher from Alaska. But she ran thus Pasvik trail in April to 10th before she went home.

In these days learn Lisbet dogs to rest on the track. For they do but little in Fur RONDY. While she waits for harlots. (= Snow) Follow Lisbet on her blog.

Her motto: Life is short, mush dogs!

late november update

The late November sun lights up the trees. They are liquid gold, and alpenglow paints the mountains pink. I love the blue moments before the sun sets, a moment that stretched on for hours above the arctic circle in Norway, but lasts only a short time here. Unlike the far north, we have the sun all year. Even so, the light is short and treasured. It is a special time of year. Behind the dog team, I savor the sun on my face, a feeling I have only captured on the weekends lately. The puffs of cloud the dogs make with their breath turns to frost on my ruff. I drive the team with the snowmachine, bumping through the forests of hoarfrost in the swamps, easing over roots and stumps in the forest, and hope for more snow. We are doing a 20 mile run, one rough loop. This weekend we'll go camping again, and I hope to explore the trail system south of us.

Rask. Eating necklines when not in lead.
Wes and Tuffy
Moon rising over the Talkeetna mts.
Frosty grass
Linnea looking cute and Ruby being... Ruby.
Lead dog Sleepy (ha!) and Kozy
November sun.


before the snow

Getting ready..

Tuffy and Cowboy, waiting.


The yard.
Hooking up, Ruby in lead.

And we're off...!
Fall colors.
Over the bridge.
AK swamp spruce.
Golden days.

The grey skies of Autumn.

Running through the gravel pit. 
Almost home!
Good dogs!
Thanks to E for taking such nice photos!


a few more "camping" pics

Tuffy the Camper and Ruby
Linnea and Rask meet fire.  Rask is modeling his Hurtta Reflective Vest.
Tea in my Fold-a-cup E got me.



November. The miles are adding up, and we've started "camping." The dogs are learning that they can't go 150% all the time and that rest time means settle down! Tuffy, a dog I had with me in Fairbanks, is the only dog with previous camping experience. He's quick to settle down on his pile of straw and is a good influence on the dogs next to him. We are running for an hour or two, taking a 2hr break, then running the same loop again. So right now, "camping" involves hanging out with the dogs by the fire, eating chocolate. Tough work hey? :)


around the yard

Clockwise: Lynx; Freida; Makita; Tuffy.
Anitra; Major; Bashful; Demon.


first snow

The first snow of the season fell today. 2" in Willow. Enough to frost the trees and brighten up the night, but also turned the road north of Houston into glare ice. The sirens have been screaming all night. I'm hoping the roads clear up by morning. I'm headed back to the kennel tomorrow to run two teams. The snow is forcast to melt, but it is starting to look and feel like winter! I'm already celebrating the change in season but hustling to get everything that needs doing done before it arrives for good.