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> 2006/07 Dog Mushing Season
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Swanny 
Posted: 14-Dec-2006, 10:02 PM
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I ran my gang with some of Lynn's dogs again today. We went a bit longer, about 5 1/2 miles or so and they did just fine. Very well, actually. I'll post my log entry and then share of a picture of the gang at work. I promise I won't post every single training log entry through the winter. I don't want to monopolize the board nor turn it into a blog.

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Dec 14, 2006:
Thursday.  Temperature stable at around 0, overcast with light snow.  About ½ inch of fresh new snow on trails.  5.5 miles by Lynn’s estimate.

Daisy (L), (Pinky and Seamus each took a turn at lead with Daisy, but neither was able to do the job).  Seamus & Pinky (S) Sheenjek & Denali (T) Chinook (Single W)

My toboggan handles so much nicer than Lynn’s.  I really like the way it drives and tracks.  Much more under control as we left the yard.  After about half way we tried Seamus at lead with Daisy, but he seems very intimidated by her and tries to leave the trail to stay away from her.  Essentially he refused to run with her so we put him back in swing and Pinky.  Pinky did better than Seamus but nonetheless just crabbed along and didn’t put much effort into the gang line.  When we returned her to swing she developed a work ethic and pulled nicely.  Chinook and Sheenjek both pulled like a troopers the entire run.  All of my dogs were excited about going for a run, but Chinook was especially so this morning.  Noticeably more enthusiastic than he very excited team mates.  It was very nice to see since when we started he wasn’t real sure he even wanted to run with a team of other dogs.  Seamus did fine in Swing, but was a near disaster in lead.  I may try him again late in the season, but for now he’s just a really good swing dog.

Took a small four dog sprint team out with a very lightweight sled (maybe all of 20 lb max).  I had Puma and Fine in lead and Hope and Lucky at wheel.  We chased Lynn’s younger race team around for about 5 miles and truly ran like the wind.  Hope fell once early on, but got up on her own without having to slow or stop the team and got right back into the game.  She is truly one of most courageous dogs I’ve ever know.

The sprint run was GREAT fun, like driving a sports car immediately after a large truck.  The sled skid sideways on almost every turn.  WHOOHOO!!! 


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Daisy (Lead)
Seamus and Lynn's Pinky (Swing)
Sheenjek and Lynn's Denali (Team)
Chinook (Single Wheel)


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user posted image "You can't run with the big dogs if you still pee like a puppy".

Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs, Two Rivers, Alaska.

"Aut pax, aut bellum" (Clan Gunn)
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Swanny 
Posted: 16-Dec-2006, 11:17 AM
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The Sheep Mountain 150 is happening this weekend, and there is an impressive array of Quest / Iditarod mushers in the line up. Hans Gatt has two teams entered in the race, Lance Mackey is running a team, as are Sebastian Schnuelle, John Schandlemeier, and quite a few other long distance contenders.

Their website hasn't yet been updated, but the lineup and other information are available at http://www.dogsled.com/sheep-mountain-150/index.html

Locally, I saw Rick Swensen the other day, so I know he is back in the area and training hard. He's been running up to 20 dogs in front of his four wheeler. I can't imagine trying to control that much power.

The most exciting news I've heard from the racing world is that Aliy Zirkle's husband, Allen Moore has signed up to run a second Skunk's Place Kennel team in the Iditarod. Allen is a GREAT middle-distance musher and Copper Basin 300 champion, and I think I know the team he'll be running. If I'm correct it will be a really fun preview of future things to come from that kennel.

At the deadline for entries, there were 32 mushers signed up to run the Yukon Quest, which even Iditarod mushers concede is the toughest long distance sled dog race in the world. I'm really pleased to see that Regina Wycoff has signed up to run the race again. She was last year's red lantern winner, but showed some strong stuff and I'm betting she'll be one worthy of our attention. Hans Gatt also signed up so we may get to see a repeat of last year's close competition. Hans and Lance are none too fond of each other and Hans has the dogs and discipline to win this race against pretty much any field.

There are currently 105 mushers signed up for the Iditarod. I was disappointed to see that William Kleedhn of Carcross YT withdrew from the race. I hope it wasn't due to health as I really like him and his dogs and I think he could do well in the Last Great Race. Looking down the list I can easily count 20 mushers who have the potential to win this race, so it should be another good one.

As I've noted before, snow conditions in the Interior are very poor. The Solstice 100 has been cancelled without protest from anyone. The Alaska Dog Mushers Association has thus far had to postpone or cancel all of their sprint races which is driving my running partners batty, as they are competitive sprint mushers who seem intent on luring me into the 'dark side'.

Lynn is especially intent as she is trying to encourage me to run some dogs in the AARP division (yep, I'm old). Information on the ADMA/AARP division can be seen at http://www.sleddog.org/races/aarp/index.html

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stevenpd 
Posted: 16-Dec-2006, 11:19 AM
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Magnificent photo Swanny! Sounds like training is progressing very well. You've done well with the dogs. I love the fact that they are socializing very well from a rough beginning.


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Swanny 
Posted: 18-Dec-2006, 09:53 AM
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From this morning's news paper:

Mackey claims win at Sheep Mountain

Staff Report
Published December 18, 2006
Posted in Sports

Two-time defending Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey added the Sheep Mountain 150 to his list of mushing victories on Sunday.

Mackey, who recently moved to the Fairbanks area from Kasilof, covered the 150-mile course in 22 hours and 49 minutes and was the only one who finished under the 23-hour mark. He pocketed a paycheck of $1,750.

The race starts and finishes at Sheep Mountain Lodge at Mile 113 of the Glenn Highway and featured two five-hour layovers at Eureka Lodge.

Jessica Hendricks-Bullen of Two Rivers took the runner-up spot with a run of 23:10 to claim $1,250 in prize money and Gerry Willomitzer of Whitehorse, Yukon, took the third spot in 23:25 to collect $750.

Rounding out the top five finishers were Sebastian Schnuelle of Whitehorse in 23:37 and three-time Yukon Quest champion Hans Gatt of Atlin, British Columbia, in 23:42.

Mackey, Willomitzer and Gatt are entered in both the 2007 Yukon Quest and Iditarod races, while Hendricks-Bullen is entered in the Iditarod and Schnuelle will run in the Quest. A field of 42 mushers entered the Sheep Mountain 150 and 36 finished.

Other Interior mushers who finished the race were: Ray Redington of Two Rivers, eighth in 24:10; John Schandelmeier of Paxson, 11th in 24:29; Aaron Burmeister of Nenana, 13th in 24:32:30; Richie Beattie of Fairbanks, 14th in 24:46; Zoya Denure, 20th in 25:27:45; Greg Parvin of Two Rivers, 26th in 26:31; Clint Warnke of Fairbanks, 27th in 26:46; and Benedikt Beisch of Nenana, 30th in 26:55.
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Swanny 
Posted: 08-Jan-2007, 09:08 AM
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Though snow conditions are still marginal in the Interior, there was plenty of snow in the south central region to support the Knik 200 this weekend. Jeff King won the race, but only because Jon Little made a wrong turn in the last mile of the race, ended up in someone's dog yard, in a big tangle. The story is in today's Fairbanks Daily News-Miner at http://newsminer.com/2007/01/08/4312/

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A victory was surely in hand for Little; five minutes separated him from King a mile before the finish line.

Little saw trail markers to his left and naturally called, “Haw!”

Then all hell broke loose.

Those trail markers belonged to G.B. Jones, a former Iditarod musher who lives about 200 yards off the trail. He has them staked in his dog lot, Little said.

Turning haw into the dead-end trail caused his team to get “viciously tangled” for what seemed like hours, he said, and giving an already conceded King a shot at victory.

Little, of course, blamed himself, not the dogs.

“It was a musher error,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of us wouldn’t have gone in that direction. I just made a snap judgement. It looked like a trail at the time.”

By the time he unraveled his dogs, his five-minute lead had subtracted into seconds. Then King’s team flew by as Little’s was just getting started again.

King arrived to Knik Lake at 10:57 a.m. and Little followed three minutes later.


Closer to home, the Alaska Dog Musher's Association was finally able to run the first sprint race of the season yesterday, in spite of frigid temperatures. My friend and running mate Lynn Orbison came in second in the 8 dog class.

I'll be getting off work tomorrow morning so will resume my own training this week.

Swanny
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Swanny 
Posted: 10-Jan-2007, 01:21 PM
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The Copper Basin 300 is coming up this weekend, and there is a nice line up of mushers signed up for the race. Of 28 mushers signed up, there are easily 14 with the experience and the dogs to win. My money is on Allen Moore. Those "Skunk's Place" dogs are AWESOME this year, in spite of poor training conditions in the Interior.

The Copper Basin 300 web site is at http://www.cb300.com

Swanny
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stevenpd 
Posted: 12-Jan-2007, 04:30 PM
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QUOTE (Swanny @ 10-Jan-2007, 10:21 AM)
The Copper Basin 300 is coming up this weekend, and there is a nice line up of mushers signed up for the race. Of 28 mushers signed up, there are easily 14 with the experience and the dogs to win. My money is on Allen Moore. Those "Skunk's Place" dogs are AWESOME this year, in spite of poor training conditions in the Interior.

The Copper Basin 300 web site is at http://www.cb300.com

Swanny

Thanks for the heads-up Swanny! I've been so busy recently that i haven't even had time to breathe and boy, is my face blue! Been looking forward to this racing season! I think I'm hooked on this type of racing. My family thinks I'm nuts, but I enjoy it too much.
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Swanny 
Posted: 14-Jan-2007, 11:56 AM
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I've run my dogs twice this week, and they'll get one more short run tomorrow before I have to return to work. Thursday they did 8 miles out of Lynn Orbison's yard. With some fresh snow on the ground and coming immediately after a fairly brutal cold snap they had a tough go of it and were very tired at the end of the run.

Yesterday they were enthusiastic as always, more than ready to go. For the first time this season I was able to run them over to Mike Green's house. It's only a 3 mile run, but it's a heck of climb. At one point the trail gains over 200 feet in altitude over less than a quarter mile. With only four dogs on the line that is a workout for both dogs and musher. It was also very warm, temperature around +25 degrees. Warm enough that I shucked my parka early one and still worked up a good sweat. In spite of the terrain and heat we were able to pull the hill in pretty good fashion and the dogs were strutting as we pulled into Mike's place.

I gave them a good 45 minute rest while Mike and I drank coffee, chatted and schemed. and hooked them up for the run back home. They were just as enthusiastic as they had been at home, and they did a great job on the return trip. Given the difficulties maintaining their training with my work schedule, I'm quite pleased.

There was no one else on the trails at all. Of course with two middle-distance races happening this weekend, and the sprint races going off today in town, many of the mushers in this area are either running the CB300, the Cantwell Classic, or were letting their dogs rest for today's sprint races.

Swanny
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stevenpd 
Posted: 14-Jan-2007, 02:25 PM
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At the risk of being redundant . . .

When are you going to start racing? You've got the team and they seem to be coming together quite nicely too.
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Swanny 
Posted: 15-Jan-2007, 09:09 AM
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Well Steve, here's the deal. I'm a lot more interested in training than in racing, training my dogs and those of others who do like to race.

I'm a typical paramedic, type-A risk-taking personality. Dog mushing helps me get far away from that natural inclination, lets me spend time with myself and my dogs, gives me a reason to be out in the woods very frequently.

I know myself well enough to know that if I got into racing my competitive spirit would take over, and I would turn a fun activity into a near full-time job instead.

My big freighters aren't race dogs, there is no way they could compete against dogs bred over the past 50 to 75 years for speed. Although any one of my dogs would make two or even three race dogs in terms of size and outpull ANY four of them, they are only about half as fast.

It wouldn't be fair to them to try to run them against race dogs, just as it wouldn't be fair to a team of only four race dogs to ask them to drag me and my gear over the big hills behind my house just to visit a friend or explore a new campsite.

In my current circumstances, I get the best of both worlds. By handling the helping sprint racing mushers train for their sport I get to drive some of the fastest dogs in the world on a very frequent basis, while someone else pays for their feed, veterinary care and any equipment that we happen to break (breaking stuff is not unusual in this game).

Meanwhile, my own guys are training and working to do that which I most enjoy, cruising through the woods and for a time being a part of the natural world.

Swanny
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Swanny 
Posted: 22-Mar-2007, 11:36 PM
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I am so proud of my little four dog Stardancer Freight Dogs team I could just bust. After two weeks off while I was at work I asked them to take me a good long way over the steepest terrain they've run all winter. They did AWESOME. I've posted my training log entry and a photo on my Old School Alaskan blog at http://oldschoolak.blogspot.com/2007/03/to...-log-entry.html

Swanny
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