I hope everyone had a Happy Solstice & a Merry Christmas! As we approach the New Year, I realize I'm pretty overdue with a kennel update. Here's a quick recap of our fall and early winter.
Late fall heralds race sign up season. Online sign-up has become a race in itself. The demand for mid-distance races in Alaska has skyrocketed, with races filling up in minutes. I signed up for the Knik 100 (was originally wait listed but moved up to main roster), the Tustumena 200 (was super fast @ sign-up and as a result am heading out the chute FIRST) & got wait listed for the Copper Basin (highly unlikely I'll get in). Of course, the main focus is IDITAROD -- just two months away !! We have a lot of prep work to do before we are ready for the trail!!
Friends & Training
My friend Sarah visited for a couple weeks this fall. It was wonderful to have her here -- things move so quickly with another set of hands around! We trained dogs, laughed, finished my dog box, danced, made smoothies, made terrible halloween costumes & caught the flu.
Between bouts of flu and major equipment failure, I had a hard time getting miles on the dogs in November. I did get them out regularly, just not as far as I would have liked. Still, the dogs are looking better, moving faster farther, than they have in the two past years. "Fast," of course, is relative -- the dogs are moving turtle speeds compared to their sprint training speeds -- but I find it so much more fun to run a "fast" distance pace than crawling along at 7 mph for hours on end.
If you follow my Facebook, you know we suffered some major equipment failure this fall -- the side by side I use to train the dogs almost fell apart, and then the 6 wheeler I borrowed from my parent's also broke down. Incredibly frustrating events that took a huge chuck out of my wallet, but that I am ultimately thankful for -- I am learning to be more self sufficient every year and these things spurred me to 1) learn to truck train and 2) learn to fix something mechanical (in this case, the 6 wheeler). Truck training is an incredibly efficient and comfortable way to train the dogs. I'm not convinced it's the best "training," but it's pretty good conditioning. Despite what some folks may think, truck training is not a recent Iditarod musher invention -- Mushers have been truck training for, well, as long as trucks have been around actually.
At the beginning of December we had a major snowfall, which felt more like a windfall. The 6 wheeler had just broken again and ice conditions prevented local truck training -- thank goodness for the snow! I broke out my sleds and haven't looked back at any ATV contraptions since. Conditions have been marginal, so team size has been limited. As a result, the dogs are getting more "rest days" than they did this fall. There is only one of me & only so many hours in the day. Training was also impacted by my trip to Mexico mid-month. It was not an ideal time to leave, but one of my best friends was getting married... and I was a bridesmaid. BIG thank you to my parents who came over and took all my dogs out for a run on the snowmachine while I was gone -- knowing that my dogs would get out at least for a short run while I was gone saved my trip -- I had a fantastic, guilt free time in Mexico. Will share some pictures in another post. All in all, despite training hiccups, the dogs are looking great! We took a quick trip to the Denali Highway for some truck travel and camping practice -- had a fantastic time & the dogs that have never camped before -- well, you wouldn't know they had never camped before -- they did great :) In January, I am going to focus on increasing milage and lots of camping. Our first race will be the Knik 100 -- rescheduled for the end of January.
Integral to my truck training scheme was the completion of my dog box -- my box is pretty much a product of girl power -- thanks to my mother for her guidance and design and to Sarah for her help building and her gutsy handling of the more intimidating power tools. The box is road ready now -- I just have a two last minute jobs to make it completely complete :)
Sponsorship & Events
This fall, Pete and I visited an Open House at Arctic Office in Anchorage in conjunction with 3M, one of our main sponsors this season. Pete was a pretty smooth operator, charming basically everyone who walked by. At the end of November, I took Fritz to Big Lake and gave a talk to the kids at Big Lake Elementary. It meant a lot to me to be asked to speak to the kids there -- Big Lake is the elementary that I attended and it doesn't seem like that long ago that I was the school kid listening to the musher talk! So it was a total role reversal. I take my position as a role model for these kids -- especially the young girls -- really seriously. I WAS that kid, hanging off every word the musher said -- it's a special and unique position us mushers have ! When we talk to these kids, we are planting seeds for the future of our sport, giving the kids a tangible connection to the history of our state, promoting good animal husbandry, and emphasizing the importance of smart decision making -- it's important ! And most of all, it's FUN. The honest enthusiasm of the kids brings it all home.
We welcomed a new Business Sponsor this fall: Jolt Construction. Jolt is the construction company that I flagged for in the summer. I am especially grateful to Steve, Kathleen & Family for their support of my 2014/2015 Race Season & proud to be a Jolter!
I welcomed a few more Checkpoint Sponsors: Molli Sipe, Kevin Brown (Unalakleet), the Rocky Mountain Siberian Husky Club, the North Jersey Siberian Husky Club, and I am especially appreciative of a donation from my local Siberian Husky Club -- the Siberian Husky Club of Anchorage. The Siberian Husky Club of Chicago has stepped up again this year to support the team -- watch for their striking logo to go up in the sponsor sidebar. I am so thankful for everyone's support -- with your help, I will be able to provide the best my athletes deserve. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the team, check out the Team Anadyr Store for sponsorship options. Thank you & Merry Christmas ! xo Lisbet & Team