Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Dallas Seavey: "Please do not drink and drive this weekend"

Note: This story has details of massive injuries to dogs, dog death, and human trauma. 

Dallas Seavey at the restart of Iditarod 51. Seavey
released a statement today about a fatal incident
involving one of his dog teams and a snow machine
allegedly driven by a drunk driver on Saturday.
A trooper report spotted on Sunday morning reported a snowmachine accident involving a sled dog team outside of Cantwell, Alaska around 8:30pm on November 18. The dispatch gave little detail as to the event or the condition of those involved. All that was known was that no charges had been filed and the investigation was ongoing. Many within the mushing community and fandom alike wondered who it could be, and those in the know remained silent waiting for an official statement.

Wednesday morning, Dallas Seavey made a statement via his social media page indicating that a team from his kennel was the one involved. Handler Josiah and a team of nine Dallas Seavey Racing Kennel dogs were hit head on by a snow machine driven by someone who appeared heavily intoxicated. One dog died instantly, another succumbed to injuries an hour or so later. Three remain in critical condition. Seavey reported that four of the dogs as well as the musher, handler Josiah, had minor injuries.

"Josiah’s team was hit by a snowmachine traveling ~65mph in the opposite direction," Seavey wrote. "Of the nine dogs in the team one was killed instantly, one had several broken legs and died within an hour, three had compound fractures or limbs nearly amputated by the impact, and the remaining four had minor injuries (by comparison)."

Seavey detailed the injuries of the three dogs in critical condition. Two have already had surgery, one to amputate a leg, the other dog to hopefully save a leg. The third dog is so critical due to fluid on the lungs that they cannot operate on this time, but the dog needs to have its leg amputated as well. Seavey believes all three dogs will never run in harness again - even if the one's leg can be saved. 

Dallas Seavey closed his statement with a plea ahead of a holiday many over imbibe during - "Please do not drink and drive this weekend," he wrote. "And remember, there are other users on the trails."

This could have had an even more tragic story as not just dogs but humans were hit by a snow machine going 65-70 miles per hour. Josiah was thrown from the dogsled but still managed to tend to dogs as they bled. Had it not been for the fact that he was traveling with two other experienced dog mushers (Dallas ahead of him by at least half an hour, Isaac behind him) we may have had a very different outcome for most of the dog team. 

This evening Dallas Seavey was interviewed by Anchorage Television station and NBC affiliate, KTUU's Mike Ross. While the broadcasts shared snippets from that interview, Ross shared the interview in its entirety on his Facebook page after the broadcasts. WARNING: Dallas goes into great detail of the incident as he knows it, as well as the sometimes graphic detail of the carnage he found when he came to Josiah's aid. He mentions the help of fellow musher Paige Drobny (Squid Acres) to get him to the crash site. It's about 20 minutes long and it is a HEAVY listen. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Dryland in September

I know, it's November, but I never shared my favorite shots from the morning I spent at the Chugiak Dog Musher Association's Dryland races at the end of September. I was in town for Scott Hamilton's Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer (and yes this fangirl cried because Scott Hamilton was RIGHT THERE) and then my wonderful friend Meredith Mapes twisted my arm to have me come snap some pics of her and her canine friends doing what they love.

I wasn't able to stay for the full day, but I did get some shots that I'm pretty happy with. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Dallas Seavey the first winner of Iditarod Lotto

Dallas Seavey celebrates a win during his "race"
at the now closed Wildride Sled Dog Rodeo.
Anchorage, Alaska. August 2010.
The Iditarod announced its first weekly winner of the newly created Iditarod Lotto Wednesday and Iditarod Nation got a good chuckle out of who won. 

The Iditarod announced the Iditarod Lotto on November 3, 2023 as their newest fundraiser to support not only the Last Great Race but also the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry. Tickets can be purchased for $2 each, with special discounts if you buy large quantities (for example, 75 tickets only cost $50). There are weekly winners through March 13 when a jackpot (they call it progressive pot) winner will be announced.

"The proceeds will be essential to not only ensuring the sustainability of the Iditarod, our culture and our mushers but also the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry," Rob Urbach, Iditarod CEO, stated in the press release. 

The payout is a simple 25-25-50 model. Weekly winners get 25% of the weekly monies received. 25% goes into the pot to be accumulated for the jackpot on March 13, 2024. 50% is split evenly between the Iditarod and the Museum as well as any costs associated with running the lotto. A single ticket number will be randomly selected by a certified, lab tested Random Number Generator from all tickets sold during the week. All tickets will also be entered for the progressive pot (jackpot) at the end of the season.

This past Wednesday was the first winner announcement and it came with great amusement to many. Dallas Seavey - the second musher to ever win 5 Iditarod championships - won $2,067 in the weekly drawing. The announcement gained automatic attention on Facebook with many fans chiming in with their thoughts on the lucky winner. "How does he do that?" wrote the champion's oldest brother. "Damn the booties and the cash !" wrote fellow musher and 2024 Iditarod Rookie Lauro Ekland who referenced Dallas' luck at the Iditarod Picnic where Seavey won the musher door prize of 500 dog booties. (Don't worry, I got my little dig in, too.) 

This is not the first time the Iditarod has used a lottery to fund the race. In the early years they sold lottery tickets for a dollar. There's a bit of nostalgia in Iditarod returning to its roots in starting up a new (and perfectly legal this time) lottery.

The lotto is not just for Alaska residents. Fans throughout the US can also purchase tickets. Alaskans must use the online platform to purchase tickets, while outside of the US fans can call 1-800-545-6874.

"We are thrilled to be able to offer a Lotto," Rob Urbach said, "with the excitement of  weekly winners and what we hope will be a large grand prize payout."

The Lotto announcement was joined days later by two other fundraisers, a "Tagalong" program where fans can pay a flat fee of $250 to have a tag with their dog's name ride in the sled of their chosen musher. Just five tags for each sled will be sold, and several mushers have already sold out. The third fundraising announcement helps the mushers as well as the race as the Iditarod Store now has an affiliate program for mushers. You can use a musher's code at checkout when you buy online at the Iditarod Store and 10% of the sale will go to the musher. Mushers are current Iditarod roster mushers only and their code is a combination of their first initial plus their last name ALL IN CAPS (example: ABERINGING). The store is also now back in the hands of the race directly, no longer working with a third party.

The announcements of all three fundraising ideas were warmly received by the Iditarod Nation and mushers alike. One can only think that this will revitalize a stagnant fanbase's enthusiasm in financially supporting the race above their usual ITC Memberships or Insider subscriptions.

Have you played the Iditarod Lotto or do you plan to? Comment below on your thoughts about this new fundraiser or any of the other newly released programs!

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Kuskokwim 300 Race Board announces purse increases

The Kuskokwim 300 Race Board which governs not only the famed K300 but also the Delta Championship Series of races released a statement today with news that they would be increasing the purses of all of their races "substantially." The press release this afternoon broke down the increases for each of the three "big" races as well as giving numbers "for the rest" of the races. They weren't joking, the increases are substantial.

The Kuskokwim 300 sees a $25,000 increase in purse. The K300 pays out to the top 25 (out of 30) teams. The winner of the 2024 Kusko is guaranteed $28,500 - $3,500 more than last year. The other 24 "in the money" placements will also see pay increases. The Bogus Creek 150 purse saw a $15,000 increase, topping out now at $75,000 with the champion winning $12,000. The Akiak Dash which takes place the day after the start of the Kusko 300 saw a $10,000 increase bringing the total purse to $40,000 with the champ getting $5,500. All other races have purses of $25,000. You can see the breakdown of purses via a PDF provided on the race website.

The Kusko is not the only racing organization to boost the purse payouts. The Iditarod announced ahead of opening their 2024 registration that they had increased the purse by $50,000. The increase was the first for the Last Great Race in six years, and credited the fundraising efforts of the Iditarod Board of Directors.

For the K300 races, a lot of the fundraising comes from "rippies"/pull-tabs, but also come from very generous sponsors in the Kusko-Delta region. This is the first time in five years that the Kusko board has raised purses. 

The Kuskokwim 300 race has a rull roster of 30 teams set to race on January 26, 2024. 

As always, if you like what you see and want to support my addiction (I mean HOBBY) of following these races and stalking (I mean cheering on) the mushers, you can buy me a slice of pizza (that really goes to paying for my internet/web expenses).

Rosters Run Down (Pt. 2)

Thought we were done with rosters? Oh, no, there are still so many more to go! Thank you to everyone who sent messages saying these are helpful resources. Snow fell over South Central Alaska this weekend, so it's helping to really boost excitement for the coming mushing season.

Let's get back to what you came here for.

Montana's famed Race to the Sky has opened registration and it's surprisingly the slowest growing roster to date. Just one name appears on the 300 mile race (and it isn't who you think it is). You can scroll down on their main page to see the current list of names. The race takes off on February 9.

The PG Expedition Abitibi, taking place in La Sarre, Quebec (!!!), has filled its roster in just over 24 hours. They have a race that is 100miles long as well as a 40 mile race. They've even got healthy wait lists for each race. Very exciting for this somewhat newer race. They'll take off down the trail on February 18.

The UP200 is boasting quite the roster as well. The race will kick off on February 16 and it will no doubt prove to be one of the most fun to watch. You'll most likely recognize several names on the list currently. You can view the up to date roster on their website.

The always fun Canadian Challenge also has their roster on their website... except it isn't a list of names, you have to hover over each musher picture to find out who they are (if you don't already know by looking at them). They didn't post a list on facebook either (at least not at this date). Still the website has a sleek look to it, so make sure to take a look.

The Junior Iditarod already has a healthy roster after starting the summer with only two names on the list (both Redingtons). Those who have followed junior races will recognize a lot of names on the 2024 Junior Iditarod roster and know that it's going to be another competitive and close race. You can view the roster on their website.

The CopperDog 150 is another race that quickly filled and started a waiting list. They have other miled races as well, all of which you can find on their website

The Can-Am International race is now North America's only mid-distance race that runs in both Canada and the US (thanks, warring Quest boards, Alaska isn't cool anymore). They have three classes of races and you can view the current rosters on their website.

The Finmarkslopet opened registration back in September, and as always the roster is chalk full of fantastic European teams. Team Norway fans will see many of their favorites on the roster. You can view all of the races on their website.

So there you have it, the run down of rosters currently. Other races taking place after the Iditarod have yet to update with rosters, so this is by no means the full list of rosters, but it's the majority. The BIG ONE was purposely left out because this blog focuses on the roster many times throughout the season. While many of the races are full with waiting lists, others will be fun to monitor as deadlines approach to see which teams join up. Overall, viewing these races proves that the sport is alive and well and the future is also very bright.

Who are you surprised to see on the rosters? Which races are you looking forward to? Have any preseason predictions? Comment below with you thoughts!

This blog has always been a hobby and will continue to be - and this list is more for myself than anything - if you can spare a few dollars to help keep this blog running I would greatly appreciate it. Please do not feel obligated, but know that all support (in every form, not just financial) is greatly appreciated! Click here to "buy me a coffee".

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Roster Run Downs (Pt 1)

Several mid-distance and junior races have opened registration for their races in the last couple of weeks. The Kuskokwim 300 capped their roster about ten days after opening. The Knik 200 closed their roster after just 48 hours. Copper Basin 300, John Beargrease, Yukon Quests Canada and Alaska, and the Can-Am have also released updated roster lists. 

Instead of trying to keep up, this blog decided to do a run down of all of the initial sign ups here. Let's get to it, shall we?

First up on the run down is the ACE Race. While an "unofficial" race for the season - as in it isn't used as a qualifier for anything other than the qualify that it's the start of the race season - it's one of the most popular races according to mushers and fans alike. It's not one to easily follow as there are no trackers, no checkpoints, and the only updates one can find are the ones on their Facebook page, still, it needs to be included on all mushing fan's radar.

The true kick off of the season will be the Knik 100 which will take place December 16, followed a few weeks later by the Knik 200 on January 6. Both rosters are FULL just 48-72 hours after opening registration and there are wait lists.

Minnesota's Gunflint Mail Run opened registration on November 1, and according to their website their roster of 15 teams is already full. They've not updated their website or social media with a current list of teams, however, so keep an eye open! This is another race that begins on January 6 - so just don't plan on doing anything but following multiple trackers and social media pages.

January 13th will host the start of the Copper Basin 300 - the COLDEST 300 miles of sled dog racing. This is another popular race in Alaska, though the race has yet to fill its roster (to be fair it caps at 50 which is the largest of the mid-distance rosters). Still, the roster is already getting fan buzz considering some of the names signed up. We'll let you guess who might have caused that.

Boasted as Oregon's only Iditarod/Quest qualifier, the Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race also has open registration for its race. The 100 mile race is already full with a waitlist, but it looks like the 200 still has some space (the 200 can be used as a qualifier for the bigger races in Alaska/Canada). You can keep up with the lists by visiting their website. The races begin on January 18.

The Pedigree Stage Stop race has opened registration and they put the roster on the main page of their website. Pretty easy to find, check it out. The first stage begins January 26.

The 40th running of the John Beargrease Marathon is FULL. You can take a look at the rosters of each of the miled races on their website! It's quite exciting. The race kicks off on January 28.

The Femundlopet opened registration this fall as well and it has its rosters for its different miled races on its website. You'll have to translate it into English, but there's a lot of great info on the race that begins February 7.

Caledonia Classic, which kicks off February 2, has their roster on their website.

The Klondike Dog Derby, also starting on February 2, has a FULL roster with an overflowing wait list. You can see all the registered names, and those waiting, on their website. A lot of very recognizable names DIDN'T get their paperwork in in time to have a guaranteed spot!

Yukon Quest Alaska has its rosters up on their website, you'll appreciate that they include kennel names and links (it's catching on)! The races take off February 3.

Yukon Quest Canada also starts February 3 (so sad when mom and dad can't get along, isn't it? The kids shouldn't have to choose which parent to love more.) They have their rosters on their website. Neither Quests are full. 

And to end this somewhat long blog, we'll feature the Willow JUNIOR race. This is NOT affiliated with the now defunct Willow 300 race, and that's a positive considering junior races are harder and harder to find these days. They took to facebook to share their current roster.

Check back soon for part two of the run down. But, for now, which of these rosters do you find most exciting? Who are you excited to see signed up? Which race is your favorite? Comment your thoughts below.

Do you like having an easy to find list like this and want to see them continue? This blog has always been a hobby and will continue to be - and this list is more for myself than anything - if you can spare a few dollars to help keep this blog running I would greatly appreciate it. Please do not feel obligated, but know that all support (in every form, not just financial) is greatly appreciated! Click here to "buy me a coffee".

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

2024 Kuskokwin 300 reaches roster limit

In what felt like record time, the Kusko 300's roster was capped last week when it hit 30 teams just over a week after registration opened. Teams from all over Alaska and Canada plan to descend on the Western Alaska city of Bethel where the only way to get there is to fly if you don't live close enough to snow machine, mush, or if you're brave drive on the local ice road. But if you're from Anchorage, Fairbanks, The Yukon, and other parts of Alaska - you gotta fly (or you could spend a week mushing out there but then your team would probably not want to get up and race after!

The Kuskokwim 300 is one of the premiere mid-distance races in North America, and one of two major races in Western Alaska. Where the Iditarod's creation was in part to support the Alaska Native tradition of mushing by giving a reason to keep dogs even with the more modern inventions of travel, the Kusko actually has maintained that lifestyle for many of the mushers of the Kuskokwim Delta. They keep the expenses rather low for locals, they have other races throughout the season to bolster confidence and monies... and the Kusko 300 is the BIG race with the BIG purse. Where other races big and small seem to struggle with financial incentives - the Kusko is thriving.

And mushers notice. The race is heralded every year as one of the best run and organized of the races in Alaska. The locals in the villages come out for a weeklong party - almost like their own version of Anchorage's Fur Rondy celebrations - celebrating the dogs running the race. They manage in some of Alaska's harshest conditions to keep fans up to date in a variety of ways - including facebook live updates run by not only race volunteers but local students at the school.

It's just a really cool race, and it gives a lot of "outside" teams (as in not KuskoDelta teams) a chance to run in conditions you only find on the Alaskan West Coast. 

So just who are the lucky 30 with spots secured for the 2024 race? Take a look below:

Travis Beals
Pete Kaiser*
Brent Sass*
Ebbe Winstrup
Joe Taylor

John Snyder
Dave Turner
Josh McNeal
Raymond Alexie
Gabe Dunham
Lev Shvarts
Richie Diehl
Jessica Klejka
Riley Dyche
Matthew Failor
KattiJo Deeter
Cim Smyth
Jessie Holmes
Hunter Keefe
Isaac Underwood
Jeff King*
Father Alexander Larson
Jeff Deeter
Jason Pavila
Nicolas Petit
Rob Cooke
Aaron Burmeister
Mike Williams Jr.
Dakota Schlosser

Bold signifies Kusko Champion
*Asterisk signifes Iditarod Champion
Italics signifies Kusko Rookie 

Teams that missed out can sign up to be on a waitlist. Teams will be contacted if one of the thirty currently signed up withdraw their name. Waitlist teams will have twenty four hours to respond and pay for their entry once they are contacted. The race begins Friday, January 26, 2023 at 6:30pm in Bethel. Be sure to like/follow them on Facebook to keep up with all the race announcements as well as announcements on the Delta Championship Series.

What are your thoughts on the 2024 roster? Got any early predictions on who brings home the prize? Who do you plan to cheer for? Comment below with your thoughts!

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Thursday, October 12, 2023

Twenty teams already signed up for 45th Kusko

In just 48 hours of opening registration, the Kuskokwim 300's roster is 2/3 full. This is the 45th year for the beloved Kusko race, and it seems it's a not to miss event again this year. With registrations coming in quickly, the race took to their Facebook page to announce that mushers still contemplating entering better hurry as there were only ten spots left. The race traditionally limits the roster to 30 teams so as not to overwhelm the communities involved in the race. Unlike many of the mid-distance races, the Kusko is not "on the road system" and so villages rely on local volunteers to keep the race going.

With the smaller roster, it always makes for an incredibly competitive and coveted race. So far for the 2024 Kusko there are three former Kusko champions in the mix as well as two Iditarod champions. There are two women currently signed up, and six rookies line the roster. Several local mushers are in it, including the champion of the newly formed Delta Championship Series (which, don't worry fans, it will return this season). 

Here's the list of names as of October 12, 2023 at 9pm:

Travis Beals
Pete Kaiser*
Brent Sass*
Ebbe Winstrup
Joe Taylor
John Snyder
Dave Turner
Josh McNeal
Raymond Alexie
Gabe Dunham
Lev Shvarts
Richie Diehl
Jessica Klejka
Riley Dyche
Matthew Failor
KattiJo Deeter
Cim Smyth
Jessie Holmes
Hunter Keefe
Isaac Underwood

Bold signifies Kusko Champion
*Asterisk signifes Iditarod Champion
Italics signifies Kusko Rookie 

Mushers have until December 31 to register at the $400 fee, after which it will be $800 to register (if there are spots available). The race begins Friday, January 26, 2023 at 6:30pm in Bethel. Be sure to like/follow them on Facebook to keep up with all the race announcements as well as announcements on the Delta Championship Series.

Who are you most excited to see sign up? Who are you hoping joins the roster? Any early predictions on who takes home the prize? Will Kaiser Re-PETE for an eighth time? Comment below with your thoughts.

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Monday, October 9, 2023

Mushing Legends banner Anchorage's "Mushing District"

If you're walking down 4th Avenue's "Mushing District" in Anchorage make sure you're looking up. Last week the organizers of Anchorage's "Mushing District" association took time in the rain to add some legends of the sport to the lamp posts that illuminate the streets. Legends of both Fur Rondy and Iditarod will - for the time being - brighten the sidewalks from 4th and A Street to 4th and G Street, looking down on the bronze dog paws commemorating the many donors who made this project possible.

Anchorage's Mushing District was a project dreamt up in the early 2010s and given the go ahead by then Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in 2019. The district is the stretch of Downtown Anchorage that the Fur Rondy and Iditarod races traditionally start from each year. It has taken the organizers several years to begin bringing their vision to life. Fundraising from sponsors and community members has been ongoing, with bronze foot prints and husky faces marking the sidewalks with the names of sponsors, and now the banners. The fundraising will culminate in the creation of " a steel truss arch with the silhouette of a dog team and musher racing across the arch" over 4th Avenue. 

The post from the Mushing District's facebook shared the renderings of the banners alongside photos of the volunteers hanging the banners from the light posts in the rain. Portraits of mushing's greatest sprint and long distance mushers in both color and black and white sit on a purple banner with their name and their race stats. Names like George Attla, Susan Butcher, Herbie Nayokpuk, Joe Redington, Earl Norris, and Roxy Wright will represent the hundreds of mushers throughout history. 

Another big announcement from last week for the Mushing District is the proclaimation from present Mayor Dave Bronson that the City of Anchorage will take ownership and maintain the arch once it is put in place. "On Friday, I participated in the Fur Rondy pin unveiling and announced a formal agreement that the municipality officially recognizes a part of 4th avenue as the Mushing District,
 Mayor Bronson wrote on Facebook, "This will be an added tourist attraction and a way to commemorate the historic Iditarod race!"

The banners are, according to the district's social media page, not a permanent addition to the district. They do not have a timeline for when the banners will come down, so if you want to go see them, go as soon as you can.

Have you seen the banners? Share what you think in the comments below!

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Willow 300 Vice President: "There is no more board."

The last man standing has spoken, there's no one left on the board of directors for the Willow 300. Essentially, the race is no more as of this weekend. On the eve of registration, an announcement was made that put the final nail in the coffin. 

After a dramatic announcement over two weeks ago sent the Alaskan mushing community into a bit of a tailspin. Hyperbole, maybe, but when half of your board resigns in a single day with a reason of concern of the "morals and values" of the race - you maybe deserve a bit of hyperbole.

In response, Board President Al Eischens (who also played the part of Race Director/Marshall) wrote a statement shared by the FORMER social media page for the race where he offered to step down immediately. Eischens posted on September 16:

"To the membership of the Willow 300 Dog Sled Race.

Pursuant to and responding to the recent actions and internet posts by the former Board of Directors of said race, I Alan Eischens, after much consideration and concern for the race - which has always been uppermost on the minds of the BOD and mushers -  will gladly step down as Director of the race immediately.  In the interest and love of the sport I am sorry to see that there has been what I feel are misinterpretations and misunderstandings by some of the board members of the W300.

I will gladly step aside and let the membership of the W300 vote in a new board of directors from its current membership to continue this race.   We will gladly help with a smooth transition so as to facilitate a swift and easy transition to whomever is elected to take over.    I feel the new board needs to come from the mushing community and not board members who have previously stepped down.  I am sure a fresh BOD and approach to the race moving forward will be welcomed by all W300 members. My withdrawal from this race is effective immediately and I thank the membership for allowing me to try to make this race better.   God bless."

Essentially, with Eischens stepping down that left only a couple of members on the board according to the list on the race's website. According to that list, only two were left standing the VP and the Treasurer. With Eischens stepping down the writing was on the wall that there would most likely be no Willow 300 or 150 for the 2023-24 season. 

Then Saturday the Willow 300's official page posted yet another update on the race ahead of the October 1 opening of registration. A simple exchange between whomever runs the page and the last known standing board member Matt Smith. The question was what was to happen with registration day, Smith simply wrote back: "There is no board there is no race I resign my position".

With other races having opened registration earlier this summer, and a handful opening this weekend, fans may see an uptick in rosters for those races, but this further complicates many kennels' plans to qualify/train for Iditarod and Quests. The Willow 300 was a newer race, but one that was very popular and centrally located in an area that has hosted a race even in the worst of winters. 

Because of the latest happenings with the board, the race's website has been taken down. In response to a question of where the website went, someone with inside knowledge of the decision wrote "As a rule today October 1st was the 1st day for sign ups/payment to race. So this also prevents people from depositing money and it needing to be returned."

The only question remaining - at least by fans - has do do with Nicolas Petit's winnings. At this time, no one has responded to inquiries.