Well folks the Yukon Quest is now a wonderful memory, and the Iditarod is a week away. Dan and the team are recovered and I am a nervous wreck. Which is not uncommon for me before a race. So things are pretty normal around here, or as close to it as we ever get.
Before heading to Anchorage next week I wanted to take a minute and reflect on the Quest, look toward the future, and share some good news.
This years Quest was a lot of fun, and we are really happy with how our young team preformed; for many it was their first 1000 mile race. Dan managed the team wonderfully and finished with a really strong happy team. A race like the Quest is such a major undertaking. Not just for us, but for the Quest organization as well. SO congratulations are due not just to Dan and the team, but to the many many wonderful people who make it all possible. The volunteers, checkers, comms (the folks who work communication), the media crew, race officials, and veterinarians. Everyone comes together and manages to make it all look easy. Hats off to such a great group of people, Dew Claw appreciates all you do!!! And of course the fans, who reach out to us with generous support and kind words of encouragement, Mush Thanks!
This year Emily Schwing was on the trail reporting for our local public radio station KUAC. She did a really nice piece about the veterans who finished in the top 10 this year, and it includes a nice interview with Dan at the finish line, you can listen here. As it says in the article there were a few Dew Claw dogs in the team of Abbie West. Mushers working together it nothing new, but many fans may not be aware how much many mushers work together and support each other as we all work to reach our goals. Along with Dew Claw dogs in Abbie’s team, Dew Claw had the privilege of running some dogs from veteran musher Jay Cadzow on our team. And for the upcoming Iditarod I will have 3 of Jay’s dogs who finished with Abbie on my team. We are very fortunate to have the friendship and advice of such talented mushers. Jay Cadzow is probably one of the greatest mushers most people have never heard of. With decades of experience and a real talent for breeding, training, and driving dogs; in addition to being a Quest finisher and accomplished racer his dogs have run in some of the top Quest and Iditarod teams for years.
Before we move onto Iditarod news, I wanted to share with you a collection of photos of Dana and the Dew Claw dogs from the 2013 Yukon Quest.
Now the focus shifts to the next big challenge for Dew Claw, the 2013 Iditarod. Like Dan I will be driving a young team. Many of the Quest dogs will be with me, but they will be joined by some additional new dogs, who are getting their first chance to see a 1000 mile race. As well as Guetknecht, a 9 year old male who has seen his share of races, he is also the grandfather, father, or uncle to a majority of the team. Although the final team has not been selected we have narrowed the field down to 18 dogs. Last week they all went in for an EKG and pre-race blood work. Then next week they will all undergo a complete examination from Iditarod vets. People may not be aware how much mushers work with vets to prepare for the race. The Iditarod has an excellent team of vets, and mandatory screenings to ensure all the dogs are in excellent health and condition. The partnership between mushers and vets is something we really value, it allows us to make sure our canine athletes are receiving the very best in care. Along with Guetknecht we will be bringing the following dogs to Anchorage: Orchid, Sparrow, Ribdon, Galaxy, Chase-Um, Carrot, MK, Big Dude, Lubbock, Sweet Pea, Thistle, Evalet, Cricket, Topaz, Pepsi, Spyder,& Squirrel.
The responsibility of making sure this young team has a positive experience is one I am taking very seriously. As I have been telling friends; my job this year is not necessarily to place well, but to Race Well. In the past I have had the privilege of running a well seasoned race team who had much more experience then I did. This year will be different, and I will have to use my experience and knowledge to make sure I am managing this team to their full potential. As has been the case for every race I have run my goal is “to run the team in front of me to the best of my ability”.
There are so many people to thank this year for helping both Dan and I take part in these races, Huge Thank You to all the wonderful people who are a part of Team Dew Claw. And we are very pleased to be joined once again by returning Team members; Cynthia Lawrence, Sandra Wildfuere, Laureen & Greg Sills, and Daniel Faltyn. Daniel is sponsoring the checkpoint of Koyuk, making the last coastal section of trail a little less lonely.
The checkpoints are filling, but there are still some without sponsors, and we would love to see them filled helping reach our goal. Of course we are very grateful for your sponsorship in any amount as we prepare for our second major journey of the year. Please visit our sponsorship page to learn more, or consider becoming a Checkpoint Sponsor and help us fill all the empty spots on the trail. We would love to have you on our team as we head to Nome.