Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: A Year In Pictures

2016 has been a rough year on all of us. I am not one of those millenials frozen with fear and sadness over the election (not happy about it, I didn't want either option, but I'm not losing my mind over it). I had a rough personal life this year, Gpa moving in with us and dealing with dementia, the loss of dear friend last January... and oy. Yeah. 2016 wasn't fun.

So I'm looking back at some of the photographic proof that it wasn't "all bad".

Friday, December 2, 2016

Iditarod Roster Set: 5 returning champions among 77 teams

A team dog runs down the chute at the
Start of Iditarod 44. Willow, AK.
Dec 1 marked the deadline for teams to enter the 45th Iditarod race, and 77 mushers answered that call. 5 former champions are in the mix: 4-time champion Martin Buser, 4-time champion Jeff King, 4-time and current champion Dallas Seavey, 2-time champion Mitch Seavey, and 2011's champion John Baker are all going after another win. There are 8 countries represented, most mushers hail from the US (the majority of them represent Alaska); Norway, Sweden, France, Canada, England, Hungary, and the Czech Republic all have teams in the mix. 19 mushers are rookies, making 58 mushers veterans of the 1,000 mile race.

A glance at the list spots many familiar names/faces on the list with names like Zirkle, Sass, Redington, Gebhardt, Jonrowe, among others - but it's interesting to note just how many names are off the list. Four time Iditarod Champion and cancer survivor Lance Mackey signed up back in June, but made the announcement in September that he was unable to run as planned. Cim Smyth also signed up only to later withdraw. Rohn Buser decided not to run this year, and the Busers seem to be downsizing their operation. There's a change of the guard looming, it seems, and this is likely going to be an exciting race for a lot of the newer front runners.

With the change of two rules this year for the race, new strategies may emerge that could bring the change quicker than expected. Iditarod rules now state that mushers can bring cell phones/two way communication out onto the trail. They are to be used to report an emergency only (the thought is if something like last year's attacks happen, the musher can call for help). Some mushers have spoken out against the rule change, worried that some teams will misuse the allowance. The board, however, feels the good outweighs the bad.

The other rule change came with as much if not more outcry - that of the rule that no dogs may be carried in a sled trailer. In the last few years since Jeff King first brought one to the race, mushers have built trailers to pull behind their sled to carry equipment and rest dogs on long runs. Mushers like Dallas Seavey seemed to have perfected the strategy to their advantage, keeping their dogs fresh and ready to run making longer rests in the checkpoint easier to bounce back on. Officials give the reason for the change as dog safety, but those that feel the rule directly affects them don't buy the explanation. Strategies will need to change for March, but don't expect that it will change the standings too much. The trailers are only one small element to a successful race.

There has been SOME good news as of late, however! The last few weeks have brought colder temperatures to South Central Alaska, and with those temps snow! Training is underway all over the state with many teams taking to social media to share photos of a winter sight that was once common place. Sure, there's still a long way to go before trails are ready for races, but should the weather continue to cooperate it looks like for the first time in a long while, the race season will be a full one.

92 days until Iditarod runs through Anchorage - who are you cheering for?

Edited: A late entry bumped the roster list to 77. Mail must've been slow. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Disneyland Photos: Frozen the Musical

I have to admit, I reluctantly went into the Frozen Musical with my parents on our last day at Disney. I was (and still am) upset that Aladdin was closed to move in the new obsession. Yes, Frozen was an AMAZING film, and the songs are not just annoyingly catchy - they're well written and sung. But I have been Frozen-fatigued for over two years now. They are overrunning the parks. Too much of a good thing and all that.

But, I did want to give this show a chance - even if walking into the theater I was wishing we'd get the improv magic of the Genie. I wanted to see the "new technology" in action and so I went in. I was plesantly surprised for the most part. While I still prefer the Aladdin show, the cast of Frozen is equally talented. The technology is impressive (though I disagree that "every seat is a good one" as most of the technology works best when you're sitting in the center),

Below are some of the bajillion photos I took of the show. This is probably the only time I'll watch the show unless the people I'm traveling with want to see it. It's not one that I'd go to multiple showings of in the same visit (like I did with Aladdin multiple times).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Beware the Sled Dog Film "Documentary"

Musher Patrick Beall with his team at the Start of Iditarod 2016
Willow, AK  March 6, 2016
It's come to the attention of the mushing world that a self proclaimed "expose" of the "horrors of dog mushing" documentary is getting set to debut. They've been making waves for the last 24 hours. Naturally Iditarod and mushers alike have come out against it, but the sad fact of the matter is with the Country of Canada BACKING THIS FILM. It is not going away.

However, they seem to have misjudged how the mushing community would respond. I'm not sure if they thought they'd stay silent, or if they would come out looking like the blood thirsty monsters that the "documentarion" (I hate using that term when referring to these people) no doubt believes they would be. Nope, instead they are calmly and intelligently refuting the accusations being levied at them.

For me this is not a shock. I've known quite a few mushers for years now - from all levels of the sport. Most are the salt of the earth kind of people who would do anything for their dogs (and DO). I could probably film them all and turn it negatively if I was such a person, but unlike Fern Levitt (the "documentarion") I don't see the need to be a fiction writer.

One of the mushers supposedly featured in the "film" has spoken out via social media. Patrick Beall trains and runs out of Mitch Seavey's Kennel in Seward and Sterling, Alaska. Patrick was part of the Seavey puppy team in Iditarod 2016 and was told by the film makers that they wanted to follow a rookie in the race. They had to get permission from the ITC. From what I can tell they lied and provided false information on multiple levels. This is not surprising, we see this all the time with the Michael Moores of film making. But it's no less disgusting.

Here's what Patrick had to say this afternoon:

"I want to make a statement to the social media realm currently reacting to this anti sled dog propaganda. The film "Sled Dogs" will be coming out soon, attached below is the brutal trailer portraying the sport in an extremely negative light. If you don't read anything else, please know I was lied to and the intentions of the film completely misrepresented. I am a person that goes through life with complete trust in people and will never give into the prying urge of cynicism. Please feel free to share with whomever you see fit.
Last fall was one of the most exciting of my life. On top of having qualified for Iditarod the prior seasons and working so hard to get to the starting line. Things were just plain good. I was training an amazing group of two year olds at Mitch Seavey's kennel and had been a Seavey handler for a good spell by then. I was confident in my know-how and my drive to conquer the goal of reaching Nome. I remember it vividly, I received an email from Fern Levitt asking me if I would be interested in participating in a documentary. I, of course, thought this would be so cool and accepted. She explained she wanted to do a film on what it takes for a rookie to run The Last Great Race. Again, I was nothing but excited to share my love for the sport and the amazing dogs involved. We set up times for her and her crew to come join in the fall. They took me to dinner and were way cool people. The next day we filmed. I was four wheeler training at the time so they hooked up go pros and you name it. It seemed so neat that I was being granted this opportunity to share my life with others. After the first filming session was over they interviewed me and asked basic questions you would imagine any tourist asking. And naturally like I always do shared my passion with enthusiasm and pure love. They were ecstatic with their footage and before they left gave me hugs and told me how much love they see if have for the dogs. So it goes...
They came up for another training session. Same results. Same enthusiasm. Same praise for what it was I was doing and how well I cared for my wild pack of sled dogs. After this they interview me again. It seemed again like a normal interview explaining what it was I was doing and how my dogs were. So, they decided after the fact they wanted to follow me through the Iditarod. I said, something along the lines of "hell yeah!" Naturally they needed permission from Iditarod, which they received. Again, because they duped me and they were able to dupe ITC. As it may be...
They followed me during Iditarod. They were there at the ceremonial and re-start. Just as excited as I was. I saw a glimmer in their eyes of how intriguing and glorious the atmosphere at this event can be. They gave me high fives and like they always had during filming been so impressed with everything that was going on.
The film crew first met me in rainy pass. I was a little down because I had added a 50 mile run to my Iditarod by taking a wrong trail. However, the film guy and sound guy were trying to cheer me up. They seemed like friends I had known for ages. I truly enjoyed their company and good attitudes.
I saw them next in McGrath at my 24 hr layover. They were so impressed with the fact I was passing people and making up time despite my wrong turn. I remember them saying to me how amazed at my good attitude in times of adversity they were. They loved the fact I whistled to my dogs when I booted them. They were having so much fun doing what they love "filming" what I love, taking care of high end athlete sled dogs.
Again, I saw them in Galena. By now I was rolling, my dog team was doing the best they had been the whole race. I was in the zone of efficiency and had no other thoughts but "man I can't believe I'm doing The Iditarod Trail" and "man my dogs look amazing, im so unbelievably proud of these guys." In galena we pretty much slapped hands. Next, I was on my way to Nommmme!
I got to Nome in 11 days 23 hours. On the sea ice outside of the burled arch I had an overwhelming since of joy and love for everything. I cried. I cried like a mother and father would cry seeing their new infant for the first time. I had to get it out before getting to the finish line because hey I'm a tough guy 😎and I didn't want the camera to catch tears of joy on film....
What might have been the best day of my life, I came down front street, every dog pulling in harness. I could see the arch. I could see the cameras. I could see, My Mother. My mom was able to see me finish the race. I don't think she had missed one important day of my life. It was the most special day I can remember. She was balling tears of un seen emotion and love. I just hugged her. Man it was amazing. I then hugged my amazing lead dog Magnus and just lay there on the ground with him. I was so damn happy. All of this was of course filmed by this crew. Pure life in the moment joy. The kind that you can't stage, you can't fake, you can't ask even the best actor to accomplish. And guess what, they were there witnessing all of it. With their cameras and their false agenda. Behind their fake smiles and congratulations.
I later sat with them for a beer. They bought me several and just talked to me. With no cameras or sound equipment. They were amazed. They gave me so many compliments and I found them genuine. It's amazing to me it was all in vain. For some dumb film that misrepresents everything sled dogs stand for.
I can only say one thing... what they did is far worse than any claim they try to make in their "documentary". They took someone's genuine love for the world and his passion for something and turned it negative. For that, I feel sorry for them. I will not stoop to their level and fall prey to the inaccuracies. It is a shame we live in a world where you have to question everyone's intentions. But I will not allow them to steal my joy and love for this world and the sport of dog mushing.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have regarding the film. I will share with you everything I have learned and all the truths I know. I love you all."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Disneyland 2016 - Less than two months to go!

We have less than 2 months till we're in Disneyland, and you know what that means: ADVANCE DINING RESERVATIONS! Still working on making another reservation or two, but then it's just waiting until they release the park hours for our trip. Still wish they'd release them 60 days out. It'd make it all so much easier. But I'll just keep whining, haha.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Working on a #Youtube channel

Trying to do more with my youtube channel than the random family vids, dog vids, and if I practice enough I can do some better Iditarod videos. I'm also really enjoying periscope as of late, so I am thinking of doing some live vlogging come next March. We'll see. I'm not a fan of being in front of the camera, ya know?

You can find my channel by clicking here. Like, comment, and share PLEASE!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chances for Past Iditarod Champions in 2017?

I was asked this question the other day on Facebook - what are the chances for each of the five past champions currently signed up for Iditarod 45. 4-time Champions Martin Buser, Jeff King, Lance Mackey, Dallas Seavey, and 2-time Champion Mitch Seavey all signed up on the first day. All have champion line kennels, experience, and teams... but what are the real odds any of them will come under the burled arch first in Nome? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Martin Buser - Iditarod 44 was not a good race for Buser. He spent most of the training season in Seattle while his son Nikolai recovered from his car wreck. When recovery looked to be going well, Martin made the decision to return and run the race. He made it clear he wasn't in competitive form and would not be making any crazy run for first. Top if off he ended up with pneumonia while running the race. Not a good way to go. This coming season Martin's already made comments suggesting he won't be running for lead this year either.

Talk at the BBQ suggested Martin is downsizing - son Rohn is not planning to run this year, and Martin has said he wants to enjoy other things. Cindy Abbott told BBQ attendees she'd gotten a few of Martin's dogs. Honestly, the only way Martin wins - if this is really his outlook for the future - is if a bunch of other teams fall into the Norton Sound and are swept away and he makes it across.

Lance Mackey - the 44th Iditarod did not go as planned for Mackey. While still better than his outing in 2015, he still had issues with his team being ill/not wanting to go. He backtracked to Ophir for longer rest. The heat and the fast pace were a little too much for his young team. However, the rest of 2016 has been very kind. Mackey is winning races on the race car circuit (yes, you read that right) and is the proud papa to a bouncing baby Boy! The 4 time champ seemed in great spirits at the BBQ last month, and is confident in his team. That doesn't mean he'll be coming in first. All mushers are confident their team is awesome. With Mackey's health (thought he looks great these days) always a question, and the fact that he's still in the rebuilding process, he most likely won't be first... but I've been wrong before.

Jeff King - Really, Jeff should've been closer to first this past Iditarod. Sadly, due to someone's poor choices (attempted murder, in my opinion) Jeff's race was done just as it was getting started. Jeff's been so close to winning his fifth title, when his team has given up on him. Freak storms, young dogs, snow machines. It will be interesting to see how King comes back this year. I'm expecting another top 5 finish for Mr. The King this year... and with the right set of circumstances, he could win.

Mitch Seavey - this year's runner up, Mitch Seavey was just hours behind his son Dallas under the burled arch. Mitch is a competitor, and has said he's felt the best he's ever felt. Mitch's team did far better than expected considering several of his key leaders were left at home due to late season injury (sore muscles, and a jammed toe). They pushed with Dallas all the way up the coast, but it was the hills at the end that did them (or him?) in. Barring another season with injuries plaguing the team, Mitch could very well make a third title his.... of course I'd argue that Jeff has about an equal chance of winning.

Dallas Seavey - Iditarod Insider has basically declared him King with their recap video of the 2016 race. That could mean nothing, but I have to wonder if it isn't going to jinx him. They did pretty much the same thing with Mackey after his fourth win, and now he's lucky if he makes top 20. Of course, other factors are at play - namely musher health, which Dallas is younger and in a lot of ways healthier. (Which makes Mackey's 4 wins that much more impressive.) Dallas is very goal driven and athletic, but the other mushers are catching on - especially the ones around his age. Dallas is the odds on favorite, but winning that fifth title has eluded all other 4-time champions (except Rick Swenson). It's going to be difficult - but then, so were the other 4 wins, right?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Highlights from June

Well, this blog has been a big ol bit of boring lately, that’s mainly due to the fact that I just don’t have the motivation to come up with things to blog about. I’ve been quite busy this last month and a half, which also makes it hard for me to want to do anything but veg and goof around online.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Movie Review: Disney-Pixar's Finding Dory

Opening weekend for any highly anticipated summer film is always busy. When it’s a Disney-Pixar film, you can guarantee families will come out in droves to catch a peek at the latest greatest animated film. Funnily enough, however, audiences have had just as many adults as kids attend the showings. Why? Well, aside from it being a Pixar film (they almost always appeal to audiences of all ages) it’s Dory that loveable forgetful blue fish voiced by Ellen Degeneres. When she first swam into our hearts back in 2003 no one imagined her backstory… but oh a story it is.

The film begins with a flashback to Dory’s childhood, she has suffered from Short Term Memory Loss her entire life it seems. In Finding Nemo, Dory says that it runs in her family – however that doesn’t seem to be true in Finding Dory. Her parents try very hard to teach their child little helps to hold on to her memories, but it proves futile when Little Dory is swept away from her family and is lost out in the open ocean.

She swims around looking for her family from childhood into maturity and that’s when she runs into Marlin. The rest of her past is documented in Finding Nemo. We find Dory happily settled into life in the Reef with Marlin and Nemo, when the topic turns to family and legacy and belonging. Dory doesn’t think she has memories of her family – her parents – but she begins having pieces of memories flash through and it’s both confusing and inspiring. Dory decides she must find out who she is and where she comes from.

I’ve seen a lot of reviews online warning that if you are a parent of a foster or adopted child that you should stay away from this film. I am not a parent, and I was not a child in need of a family, but I really didn’t see it as bad for that type of family. It may be with the way that the parents did not give Dory up, that she was just lost and they were waiting, and that can bring up some very difficult emotions, but I don’t think it’s a horrible adoption story. A lot of adoptions are open or otherwise positive to both the biological and adoptive families. I think, like any film, one should go into it knowing their child and what they can handle. If their adoption is a very emotionally confusing part of their life, maybe skip it and wait for the DVD. (But, then, I also did not agree that Tangled was a negative film for families of adoption, but I was told I was wrong then, too.)

I think more disturbing is the somewhat bullying of those that are “different” or “special needs” that was more blatant and kinda sat funny. There are two Seal Lions (both male however with the way they were animated, one should have been female, but I digress) hanging out on a rock. They’re just chillin’ pretty helpful to Nemo and Marlin, and then another Sea Lion swims up to get on the rock. They mention that Gerald has some special needs, and he definitely has a look about him that suggests he’s not “all there”, and the Sea Lions bark at him to get off the rock. They tease him, call him names… now I know this was supposed to be this movie’s version of the Sea Gulls in Finding Nemo (the Sea Lions shout “Get off! Get off! Get off!” and it sounds like the “barking” Sea Lions do), and it’s funny. But why did the one that they didn’t want on their rock have to be the one that was “different”? These two Sea Lions were part of the heroic conclusion. It shouldn’t have been praised.

And I’m not one of those that sees a bully around every corner or thinks that we need to make everything about bullying. I probably classify as a bully half the time. I’m just saying if it made ME come away with a weird feeling, I can’t be the only one to notice it and wonder if Pixar missed the mark a bit with that one.

The third issue that’s made its rounds around the internet that I’d like to address is the Lesbian Couple. Honestly, if there hadn’t been a big stink about it online and throughout certain circles, I’d have never thought that they were a couple. It was not a family – not that I noticed – it was a couple of girls/women at a Sea Life Center. If THAT is what makes them Gay, then I’ve had several “gay days” at the local Sea Life Center in Seward with my girls over the years. So if THAT is what is keeping you from this film – and not the fact that the main character Dory is voiced by a loud and proud Lesbian (who is extremely talented and one part of her life is not enough to suggest otherwise) – then get over it. It was blown WAY out of proportion by all sides.

What was more offensive or wrong about the film was how ridiculous a lot of it was. Some scenes were trying just a little too hard. I think a lot of it was they didn’t want to use the same jokes and plotline as last time, but that fell a little flat. Still, it was a solid Sequel and not the worst film Pixar has put out. I went in expecting to be extremely disappointed, but came away with those lovely Pixar emotions we’ve all come to expect (if you don’t cry for Baby Dory then I don’t know that we can be friends). I laughed so hard I cried in a couple of spots – just like when I first saw Finding Nemo.
Characters that just didn’t work, for me, were the whales. I honestly don’t know why either of them were really there. It was a little too far-fetched how they worked into the climax and conclusion. But that’s just me. I’m sure many more were in love with them. I was excited to see a Beluga, though, I have to admit.

If you haven’t gone to see it, when you go watch through the end of the credits. It’s probably one of the best scenes of the whole movie. I won’t give it away other than to say I was so excited to see the characters they used for that scene. Epic.

This movie deserves a view in the theaters – we saw it in the regular format, not 3D and it was enough. I will admit in 2003 I saw Finding Nemo four times in theaters, but that movie was THAT GOOD. It was a feast for the eyes and the heart. This film takes place mainly in a Sea Life Center and it just isn’t as colorful, bright, nor is it as much fun.

Have you seen the movie? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Busy May... Busy June

It's summer and so that means I have little time or energy to worry about my blog. It's no wonder I even sleep this time of year (very difficult with the sun shining through my window at all hours of the day and night. Land of the midnight sun after all.

I'm basically just posting this because I have a brand new laptop that I'm still getting used to. I am not a fan of the keyboard, but I'm sure I will deal with it and it won't be so bothersome after a little bit of usage.

So much to blog about, and hopefully once family is gone and VBS is over I can really update this thing (shoot I never changed the theme from the Iditarod stuff. Gotta figure something out about that soon).


Monday, May 9, 2016

We had a bit of Disney for Mothers Day

For mother's day dad and I offered to make dinner. Asking mom what she wanted she came to the decision that she wanted something like the meal we had at Ohana's back in 2013 on our WDW trip. So off to the internet I went in search of copycat recipes (or official ones) as I couldn't find any in the cookbooks I recently acquired from my grandparents (basically all cookbooks I ever got G'ma are now mine).

So we made enough chicken, beef, and shrimp for 5 people and a little person (aka Delaney the almost 7 year old)... along with bacon wrapped asparagus and grilled veggies. It was SO GOOD and we all had more than we should have so there were very few left overs. But yummmmmmmmm!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Game Of Silence: Premiere left little time to breathe

I'll preface this blog post by saying this review is part review and part fangirling. I cannot be unbiased as I'm a huge fan of one of the stars of the show and I know I am more forgiving of things because of it. However, this show met and in some ways exceeded my expectations. Note: There are spoilers ahead.

Tuesday night's special premiere of NBC's new critically acclaimed drama Game of Silence wasted no time getting into the backstory that will push the show's theme in its first season. The story follows five childhood friends who share a dark secret (or, as we're told by those in the know - more than one). While saving their friend Jessie West (Bre Blair) , the lone female in their group, they take her mother's car for a little joy-ride and end up causing a head on collision injuring the other driver. Jessie runs off, but the four boys face 9 months jail time at a youth detention center.

That's when things really turn ugly. For Jackson Brooks (David Lyons), Gil Harris (Michael Raymond-James), Shawn Cook (Larenz Tate) and Gary "Boots" Nolan (Derek Phillips) the 9 months in Quitman was worse than Hell. Abuse - in all its forms - run rampant from other inmates as well as the corrections officers, and quite possibly the Warden. We see some of these horrors through flashbacks, though they always end just before the acts happen leaving the audience to let their imagination run wild. We meet the cast 25 years later after they've all gone their separate ways... or, well, at least one of them has gone his separate way. Jackson Brooks leaves his friends and past behind and moves to Houston to become a high powered attorney. Everything is going great, he is on the verge of making partner in his firm when his past shows back up.

Boots, on the job as a mover, runs into one of the inmates from his time at Quitman - one of the ones that tortured the boys mercilessly. He attacks and beats the guy's skull in. That's when Shawn and Gil end up in Jackson's office demanding their former friend to help Boots out. Jackson is unwilling until they mention Boots' motive for the assault. Jackson has too much to lose and agrees to help them out.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Seavey Squared battling for Nome.

In what is becoming somewhat of an Iditarod tradition, Dallas Seavey led the charge out of Elim on his way to White Mountain. He didn't stay long in Elim, just grabbed his stuff and went. Brent Sass and Mitch Seavey also spent just a few minutes in Elim grabbing/dumping gear before chasing after Dallas. Just a few miles separated each team, though Dallas widened his lead going through the hills. Dallas is a very athletic musher treating himself as the 17th team member rather than his dad's philosophy of being the coach. Mitch was predictably slower in that same area - he's "older" so he just can't keep up with the 29 year old. Brent's team slowed considerably in the run to White Mountain and gave Dallas nearly 2 hours.

So here we are - all three rested their 8 and were granted their leave. Dallas had just under a 40 minute lead on his dad. Now the two are 5 to 6 miles apart. That's a lot of distance to make up, but Mitch has traveled faster than Dallas at every portion of the race. Not by a whole lot, but by a good amount. It looks like Mitch has gained at least 2 miles on the kid, and that's through the hilly parts. Dallas knows he has a competitor in his dad. He will be looking over his shoulder and pushing his team all the way to Nome. That's a 77 mile run, and we just saw Brent Sass' team quit on him.

That's right, Brent Sass is still in White Mountain, he got them up after their 8 hour rest and couldn't motivate them to really go anywhere. Even after dropping 3 dogs to hopefully just use the ones that were a little more awake, he just didn't get the momentum needed. Sebastian Schnuelle reports that after a talk with Race Judge (and former Iditarod racer) Karen Ramstead, Sass has decided to give his dogs another hour or two and see how they feel.

This is not the first time a lead team has quit on their musher. Jeff King has had it happen several times since coming back to the race. Young dogs running long runs, and strong winds coming directly at them for the last two days, have a tendency to get discouraged and tired. Brent is a GREAT dog driver. He just felt he could and needed to push the lead he had on the Yukon and up the coast. He "pushed the throttle" too soon. He knew it coming into Koyuk, but he left out of that checkpoint sooner than he wanted because Dallas and Mitch left.

Still, this is what Brent wanted 2 years ago, to be up against the Seavey's and he very nearly beat them. He's tasted it, he's probably already working on what to improve on and do differently. He's seen how Dallas unleashed his monster over the last two days. He's seen what a dog team can do even with an older musher on the back. If he can create a hybrid of the two, he could very well take it all.

Sure, this isn't the perfect race - Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle should have been in the mix. Jeff was on the right trajectory especially to go for his 5th win. But that does not diminish what Seavey Squared or Brent Sass were able to do in the last 48 hours.

Idita-mathematicians smarter than I am have suggested anywhere from 3-4am (Alaska Time) for the winner to cross under the burled arch. I will be waking at 2:30am to check on the trackers. I drank a Dr. Pepper this morning. I am not drinking any tonight. I need to be able to sleep some as I work tomorrow. This work thing is cramping my Iditarod viewing, as you can tell by the lack of posts I've made on my blog this year. Ugh.

So I'll see you possibly at 2:30... or 3... or 3:30... or 4...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Aliy Zirkle & Jeff King attacked by POS on snow machine.

I'm about to get really angry, so if you're looking for an actual NEWS report on the subject this isn't it (but this one is). A pathetic excuse for a human being viciously attacked two teams on their way to Nulato this morning. Reports indicate that the jerk was drunk. Big deal. He intentionally circled Aliy Zirkle's team at least three times coming at them each time.

Aliy had to defend her team and herself with a trail marker (which is just a glorified stick), Danny Seavey just reported on Iditarod Live that she's had to drop one dog in Nulato due to "minor injury" but her team came out of the attacks pretty much okay. She's just pissed and shaken up. I've NEVER seen a video of Aliy THAT angry before.

Like Danny said, I wouldn't want to meet Aliy when she's pissed and waving a trail marker.

Jeff King's team was not as fortunate when he came across the POS. The snow machine managed to make contact with his team, and in doing so it killed King's 3 year old dog Nash. Two other dogs were also injured enough that King had to carry them in his dog trailer at the back of his sled. Jeff is taking his 8 hour mandatory rest now in Nulato. He's down at least three dogs (new report says one of the injured dogs has a broken leg). King runs his team well lit up with reflectors and lights. There's no doubt by the actions of the attempted murderer were intentional.

Alaska State Troopers are actively investigating the crime. There is a suspect. King has part of the POS's machine. I think Iditarod Fans need to come together and make sure this guy gets the maximum punishment for the crime. When he is arrested we need to be proactive in making sure this isn't swept under the rug. We need to have a very real presence - maybe not physically, but definitely through correspondence - to make sure this isn't another one of Alaska's classic "they were drunk so let's just slap their wrist" type cases.

Quite frankly, though, I kinda wish Aliy or Jeff had used their firearm and just taken care of the problem. Put him down like the rabid animal he is.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Trouble for Lance Mackey on the trail?

Lance Mackey at the ReStart of Iditarod 44 in Willow, Alaska.
March 6, 2016
Insiders following the GPS movements on the Iditarod Trail noticed something a little worrisome with Lance Mackey's movement - the four time Iditarod champion was moving backwards. In mushing turning a team around is never a good thing. Dogs like going new places, not where they just were. It can be demoralizing to a team - especially a young one. Sebastian Schnuelle reported that Mackey's team is full of 3 year olds, which is a good age for Iditarod dogs.

Schnuelle also reported that when he left Mackey on the trail earlier in the day there was no indication that anything was wrong. Sebastian observed the team looking healthy and active, enthusiastically eating the food their Musher laid before them. These are all indicators that a team is doing well - no trouble. So that makes one wonder if Mackey himself is having trouble. No one has been near him on the trail in hours. After backtracking a few miles his GPS tracker now show him at rest (nearing the three hour mark). Lance is 27 miles from Ophir. Most teams in the checkpoint now are taking their 24 hour layover. He may not get intercepted by another racing team for many hours.

When a musher/team is in distress the Iditarod Race Officials can send someone out to check on them - but if the musher asks for any assistance, their race is over. Last year, Lance's brother Jason scratched his own race plans to travel alongside his older brother to make sure the former Champion could make it safely all the way to the finish. Having help from a fellow musher is completely legal. This year, Lance was seemingly in a much better frame of mind and his body seemed healthier. Videos earlier from the day showed him still feeling good about his race.

So what has changed? Fans and "insiders" alike are speculating - some wildly - as to what could be the issue. Danny Seavey posted on his family's facebook page that he could think of multiple scenarios, but none of them were good. Seavey posted "I am very concerned." He's not the only one. Hopefully when we all awake in the morning we'll find he's back on the trail headed for Nome.

Someone tell this race to SLOW DOWN!

Robert Redington coming to the finish
of the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 44.
March 5, 2016
I'm pretty sure I say it every year that the race is faster than ever before - I think this year that's partially due to my traveling home on Monday instead of our normal schedule of heading home directly from the ReStart. It might make for a less exhausting day for us, but man I felt VERY out of the loop and I've been playing catch up ever since!

The leading teams are on their way to Cripple - go figure, Dallas Seavey has lead the charge - but the race IS slowing down as many teams are declaring their 24. I'm assuming Seavey the Younger will take his in Cripple. Seavey the Older lead the charge into Takotna last night, and it looks like he's declared his 24, but Team Seavey for me is hard to predict even when they're being predictable.

This race has been more about mushers being sick, than injured dogs or sick teams. Dogs are hardy, but mushers are quickly becoming their team's weak link. Wade Marrs and Dallas Seavey both started the race with the same crud that's walloped many people this winter. But this is the Iditarod - sick or not, they're going to run. Wade is taking his 24 in McGrath. He's ahead of schedule, and had planned to stop in McGrath, but judging by how he sounds and looks in the Insider video he's the one that really needs the rest.

Lance Mackey is doing better than a lot of fans expected. After last year's race where he had so much trouble with dogs and his body failing, most speculated he would be done (including Lance himself). But a "new team of dogs, new girlfriend, and new sponsors" seem to have rejuvenated the once deflated musher. He's been upbeat and positive in the Insider videos, but maybe that's because of the grape flavored energy drinks.

Travis Beals seems to be having a less than stellar run right now, in his latest video he comments that the team is young and he just wants to see what they can do. He later says that they aren't quite where he wants them to be - but that the Gorge was much better than he remembered from two years ago. Sweetest part was that while the Insider was quizzing him about his team and their run, Travis was thinking of those behind him - especially his partner Sarah Stokey. I think the two of them will win the Iditarod AWWWWWW award when all is said and done.

Anywho, just felt like checking in - as I have neglected to blog through this thing. Next year I will demand an internet connection for Sunday. I may also break the rules and drink Dr. Pepper all weekend so that I can stay up all night. Having a 9-5 job has also made following this race difficult. /whine

Mitch Seavey giving out high fives as he comes to the finish
of the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 44. March 5, 2016.

Friday, March 4, 2016

We are in Anchorage!

We left Kenai around 10am, and it was pretty uneventful. The snow, though, hit in Soldotna and continued until we got to Portage where it was a mix of snow and rain. It stayed that way for the most part around Girdwood and into Turnagain Arm. The Arm is where we got stuck in traffic due to one of the many accidents Anchorage saw today. Funny thing was as I was sitting and playing on my phone waiting for things to get moving again (Dad was driving so I wasn't breaking any laws) I happened to look at the rear view mirror and the truck behind us looked familiar. It had a dog box. I mentioned it to Dad, and then looked again - "I know that truck. I'm pretty sure that's a Seavey truck!" So Dad and I got out of our truck (it's Alaska, it's what you do when the highway is at a standstill) and walked towards them. Sure enough it was part of the Seavey handling team and the dogs! They followed us in to town, but we had a good laugh as I was facebooking Taylor (one of Mitch's top handlers) when I noticed the truck. I guess it's true that I am forever Team Seavey!

We also saw one of the other Team Seavey trucks drive by later when we were at lunch at the Arctic Roadrunner. Normally I feel like the stalker (that's what Conway used to call me, in fact), but today they were stalking me!

We went to the HQ to get our credentials, and like always they didn't have all of our badges and they looked at us like we were a big pain - this is how our team has done it for over 30 years, but because it's a new team of people running that part of the volunteer organization it becomes difficult. I get that, and I don't envy their job, but I know I'm not the only one to miss "the old days". But hey, as long as our coordinator likes what we do we'll be good. I guess. I don't know haha

After we were official volunteers I went and checked out the "official store", they are not using volunteers to run it this year (booo) but it is set up nicely (it's just kind of a bummer that these people are employees but not really INTO the race, they seemed quite clueless and that was frustrating listening to them unable to answer tourist questions). I got a new hoodie and socks and we got the Volunteers tshirts... and I caught up with a few volunteers that I only see this time of year. And oh, you know, Joe Runyan was standing behind me at one point, and one of the Burmeisters was wandering around... and yeah... it's THAT time of year (seriously it's as good as Christmas).

Anyway, we've been in the hotel since about 5:30 and I have to say it's a nice room. I am enjoying our short stay at the Springhill Suites. Tomorrow we have to be out of here by 7:30 to get to our spot at 8 (if the trail was normal, we'd be butt up against it and wouldn't have to get up and get moving early) so we will be going to bed soon. I don't expect to sleep because this whole change is soooooooooo new and a lot could go wrong as well as go right. I don't know how much in the way of photos I will be taking, but I AM ON PERISCOPE and hope to broadcast live if I can figure out how to! We will be trail guarding up to the dog truck take out area, and will be called on to help park dog teams as well. Hopefully it all goes smoothly as possible. I am not the only one concerned.

So I don't plan on sleeping much, but I should probably at least TRY to wind down and get some sort of rest. I only got 4 and a half hours last night. I don't want to know me next week, oy.

Musher List for Iditarod 2016

2016 Iditarod Mushers

Bib #Musher NameSexCityStateCountryStatus
2Scott JanssenMAnchorageAKUSAVeteran
3Jessie RoyerFDarbyMTUSAVeteran
4Nathan SchroederMChisholmMNUSAVeteran
5Allen MooreMTwo RiversAKUSAVeteran
6Ketil ReitanMKaktovikAKUSAVeteran
7Lisbet NorrisFWillowAKUSAVeteran
8Monica ZappaFKasilofAKUSAVeteran
9Charley BejnaMAddisonILUSAVeteran
10Cim SmythMBig LakeAKUSAVeteran
11Peter KaiserMBethelAKUSAVeteran
12Nicolas PetitMGirdwoodAKUSAVeteran
13Aliy ZirkleFTwo RiversAKUSAVeteran
14Jodi BaileyFFairbanksAKUSAVeteran
15James VolekMBig LakeAKUSAVeteran
16Dallas SeaveyMWillowAKUSAVeteran
17Kelly MaixnerMBig LakeAKUSAVeteran
18Ray Redington JrMWasillaAKUSAVeteran
19Mitch SeaveyMSewardAKUSAVeteran
20Rick CasilloMWillowAKUSAVeteran
21Noah PereiraMBrockportNYUSARookie
22Becca MooreFWillowAKUSAVeteran
23Anna BeringtonFWasillaAKUSAVeteran
24Jason CampeauMRocky Mountain HouseABCANADAVeteran
25Jan StevesFWillowAKUSAVeteran
26Robert BundtzenMAnchorageAKUSAVeteran
27Sigrid EkranFAlvdalNORWAYVeteran
28Travis BealsMSewardAKUSAVeteran
29Ellen HalversonFWasillaAKUSAVeteran
30Michelle PhillipsFTagishYTCANADAVeteran
31Joar Leifseth UlsomMMo i RanaNORWAYVeteran
32Brent SassMEurekaAKUSAVeteran
33Wade MarrsMWillowAKUSAVeteran
34Kim FranklinFHertsUKRookie
35Dag Torulf OlsenMHammerfestNORWAYRookie
36Mats PetterssonMKirunaSWEDENVeteran
37Robert SorlieMHurdalNORWAYVeteran
38Richie DiehlMAniakAKUSAVeteran
39Noah BurmeisterMNome/NenanaAKUSAVeteran
40Michael Williams, Jr.MAkiakAKUSAVeteran
41Linwood FiedlerMWillowAKUSAVeteran
42Kristin BaconFBig LakeAKUSARookie
43Larry DaughertyMEagle RiverAKUSARookie
44Ryne OlsonFTwo RiversAKUSAVeteran
45DeeDee JonroweFWillowAKUSAVeteran
46Justin SavidisMWillowAKUSAVeteran
47Kristin Knight PaceFHealyAKUSARookie
48Martin BuserMBig LakeAKUSAVeteran
49Mary HelwigFWillowAKUSARookie
50Ed StielstraMMcMillanMIUSAVeteran
51Jim LanierMChugiakAKUSAVeteran
52Tore AlbrigtsenMTromsøNORWAYVeteran
53Patrick BeallMNormanOKUSARookie
54Alan EischensMWasillaAKUSAVeteran
55Paul GebhardtMKasilofAKUSAVeteran
56Rob CookeMWhitehorseYTCANADAVeteran
57Robert RedingtonMWasillaAKUSARookie
58Trent HerbstMKetchumIDUSAVeteran
59Cody StratheMFairbanksAKUSARookie
60Ryan RedingtonMWasillaAKUSAVeteran
61Jeff KingMDenaliAKUSAVeteran
62Scott SmithMWillowAKUSAVeteran
63Matthew FailorMWillowAKUSAVeteran
64Tim PappasMBig LakeAKUSARookie
65Miriam OsredkarFWillowAKUSARookie
66John BakerMKotzebueAKUSAVeteran
67Jason MackeyMSalchaAKUSAVeteran
68Lars MonsenMSkiptvetNORWAYRookie
69Elliot AndersonMBig LakeAKUSARookie
70Hugh NeffMTokAKUSAVeteran
71Sarah StokeyFSewardAKUSARookie
72Lance MackeyMFairbanksAKUSAVeteran
73Cindy GalleaFWykoffMNUSAVeteran
74Zoya DeNureFDelta JunctionAKUSAVeteran
75Paige DrobnyFFairbanksAKUSAVeteran
76Karin HendricksonFWasillaAKUSAVeteran
77Ralph JohannessenMDagaliNORWAYVeteran
78Tom JamgochianMNomeAKUSARookie
79Geir Idar HjelvikMNorjordetNORWAYRookie
80Billy SnodgrassMDuBoisWYUSAVeteran
81Ken AndersonMFairbanksAKUSAVeteran
82Melissa Owens StewartFNomeAKUSAVeteran
83Kristy BeringtonFWasillaAKUSAVeteran
84Hans GattMWhitehorseYTCANADAVeteran
85Katherine KeithFKotzebueAKUSAVeteran
86Martin KoenigMSeeley LakeMTUSAVeteran

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Danny Seavey's Fantasy Iditarod is in its fourth year!

Danny Seavey running the Seavey
Puppy team during the Ceremonial
Start of Iditarod 42.
A few years ago when I was still working for the Seavey's, Danny got bored watching the race at home and came up with a Fantasy Iditarod game similar to what fans of football/baseball/basketball have. Of course, we couldn't choose 16 dogs from different teams, so he made it a system of choosing mushers.

It's just one of the innovative ways a Seavey has brought a positive light to the sport and especially the Iditarod. Unlike others have popped up soon after - Danny's game is completely free. You don't have to have any real knowledge of the sport to play, and sometimes it seems the LESS someone knows about the teams, the better chance they have (that's my story and I'm sticking to it, because I never really do well).

Anyway, this is the 4th year Danny's running the game... all while he is also working for Iditarod Insider in a larger capacity than I every expected. He's got a pretty sweet gig. Plus he's gotta blog for Team Seavey on Facebook.

I've said it for the last 9 years - Seavey's do not understand what sleep is or how it works.

So be sure to sign up - you will enjoy it! Plus, it just adds a new level of obsession to Iditarod!

OK guys, here it is. Please let me know if I missed anything before the mass email goes out tomorrow - Danny Seavey
Posted by Fantasy Iditarod on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

Snow from Fairbanks will be in Anchorage on Wednesday

Dallas Seavey's lead dogs at the Ceremonial
Start of Iditarod 43 in Anchorage, Alaska.
In an unexpected twist, Fairbanks is shipping 300+ cubic yards of snow via the Alaska Railroad for the Start of Iditarod 44. This is a first for the race. It's nothing new for them to truck snow in for the race - that has happened every year that the start has been run from Downtown Anchorage. Snow plows take the snow off the roads for drivers and most snow gets taken to "snow dumps" until the first weekend in March when it is collected and then brought to the streets that the teams run on.

But this year with the lack of snow - and the last two weeks seeing season high temperatures - there are no snow dumps to pull from. Fans have been wondering all week how the Iditarod was going to pull off the Ceremonial Start - now we know. In true Alaskan fashion snow is coming via the railway. Still, even with the Wednesday night delivery, changes are likely going to be made to the usually 11 mile Ceremonial Start. No plans have trickled down to volunteers as of yet (as you can imagine I'm very nervous they won't be able to make it out to our section) but 11 miles is a lot of trail to put in. They could do it, but with temps staying well above freezing, it may not keep.

We should know, I would think, by Thursday evening if they plan to shorten the start (though I'm hoping for sooner). If it just stays long enough to be slush for the restart all the way through the city I would think they could keep the full 11 miles. But that is A LOT of snow and A LOT of hauling and A LOT of EXTRA man hours. It may not be easily done, if at all. Time will tell.

Think cold, guys. We need an out of no where cold snap to hit ASAP. Like yesterday.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

40 degree weather for the start of Iditarod 44

Lead dogs run through a massive puddle
during Iditarod 43 in Anchorage.
This is more of a whine for me than anything newsworthy. As you well know, we are a week away from Iditarod 44. One Week (less than, actually as the whole show should be over by 230pm AKST) before the kick off to Alaska's largest sporting even of the year. One week for Mother Nature to get her act together.

South Central Alaska has been hammered with warm winds that brought temps into the 40s this past week. Weather forecasts for the coming week aren't much better. I ran around town doing my errands wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Typically we're still bundled in winter gear until at least the last part of March (some two to three weeks AFTER Iditarod has finished). There's really no snow on the ground, and what might look like snow is actually very slick ice that can kill a tailbone.

So where does that leave the Iditarod? Thankfully - while trails aren't ideal, they're still manageable up near Willow. The Jr. Iditarod is running this weekend and so far things have gone well. The real concern is the Anchorage Ceremonial Start. Last weekend the snow came down and put in a nice little white covering of everything. But, Chinook winds came right behind them and the slush is now ice along the trails. The Fur Rondy Sprint Races were drastically changed (shortened), and what little snow to be had was trucked in to cover the 5 mile trail.

FIVE MILES. The Ceremonial Start is ELEVEN MILES through Anchorage. I honestly cannot tell you what mile we are on the trail (it's past 5 miles), but we're the University Lake/Tudor Centre section. Photos sent to me today by one of my awesome team members show dirt beside the trail - and ICE on the trail. Last year we had slush and that giant puddle we named the Iditaplunge.

Weather predictions have Anchorage at 42 and sunny next Saturday. Willow, Alaska - where the restart takes place, will be 39 and sunny. Anchorage starts in the morning, but runs through the heat of the day. Willow starts at the heat of the day into the cooling off. It's still going to be warm for the dogs, so mushers will be doing all they can to keep the dogs from overheating.

I have no doubt the Ceremonial Start will take place. It just won't look like what we know it should look like. I'll be there anyway. I'll have photos up most likely the Tuesday afterward. Be sure to follow me on twitter, and I am now also on periscope!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Iditarod 44: My Top 10

We are at 11 days until the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod 44 kicks off in Anchorage, Alaska. Of course, looking out the window of South Central Alaska would suggest we're well past Iditarod time - what with the lack of snow and the rain... but it's still THAT time of year. The time where I try to guess the top teams in Iditarod with lack of races, training on snow, and well... just lack of participation by some of the top names in the sport. 

 But, I have to keep with tradition, and I didn't do TOO terribly last year. So here are my top 10 in ALPHABETICAL order. Yes, I'm trying to seem organized this year. We'll see how long that lasts.

Aliy Zirkle - She had a dip in the standings last year, but I don't expect her to have the same issue this year. Allen Moore came in third with their main team of dogs in the Yukon Quest, and this strategy has worked well for them these last few years with Aliy narrowly losing the top prize in Iditarod (each time to a Seavey, keep in mind). Aliy is a savvy dog driver who is anxious to snag the win, but also knows how to get the most of her dogs. The real "weak link" in my mind is her own limitations. Her dogs feed off her "energy", and by the time Aliy gets tired, they seem to. She was tired early in the race last year it seemed. I don't expect that problem this year.


Brent Sass - He was on the fast track to a possible first place finish in last year's race, but a lapse in judgement or attention cost him. Brent was using a type of iPod that was not allowed by Iditarod (but is by Yukon Quest). Not thinking that things would be different, Brent did not pay close enough attention to the list of accepted equipment. He was disqualified. It was heart breaking, but Brent took it like a champ. He came in second in this year's Yukon Quest, and it's been a difficult season what with his home and kennel threatened by wild fire last summer, and the sudden loss of Kennel Superstar Basin at the beginning of the race season. Don't count Sass out. He's becoming a force on the trail.

Dallas Seavey - Is, once again, the reigning champion. This year he came up with a summer training treadmill that's run out of a large freezer. Keeps the dogs cool even at the height of summer temperatures. It's an interesting study, and could revolutionize how sled dogs are trained - IF it works. It's a big experiment. No one seems to know dogs and their limits like a Seavey, but how they deliver on the Iditarod this season remains to be seen. Of all the former champions in this year's race, Dallas is the most interesting with his latest innovations in dog training. It's like the 80s and early 90s all over again.

Hugh Neff - He just won his second Yukon Quest, and it was a long time coming. Hugh is known for his upbeat personality, and the Cat in the Hat... well... hat coming down the trail. He's fun loving, and sees the races more as just an adventure that may or may not end in a win. He doesn't do as well with the Iditarod as he does with the Quest, and he's been very opinionated as to which organization is better (that'd be The Quest), but he's on the upswing after his well run race. You'd be hard pressed not to put him on your list, but I'd consider him a dark horse. He could take his first title, or he could implode. But either way it'll be a heck of a ride.

Jeff King - He's a four time champion still looking to be the first to tie Rick Swenson's record five wins. Jeff took a brief hiatus from mushing to travel and do other things, and then came back to the sport. He's had a rough come back - teams stalling, big storm that led to another stall out when he was *this close* to his 5th win. All of which hasn't seemed to rattle the veteran musher. Once deemed the "winningest musher" (though I think that may have been self-awarded), Jeff is now one of the old dogs trying to keep up with the new tricks. But he's still more than capable of taking the top prize. It all depends on the dogs.


Jessie Royer - Jessie had the best run of her career last season when she came in the top 5. She's steadily climbed the ranks, and is poised to take it all. It's exciting to see two top teams being led by women. We haven't really had that in decades, and it only helps promote the sport. Where else can Women kick butt on a level playing field? No handicaps, no segregation of sexes. Nope. It's all about who the best dog driver is - and Jessie is proving herself to be one of the best of the field.


Joar Leifseth Ulsom - He came on the scene three years ago with a bang, placing 7th his rookie year. The next year he was top 5. He slid to 6th last year, but Joar has proven he's capable of consistently placing in the top 10 (well, he's never placed OUT of it). I don't know what his secret is, but it would seem insane to count the man out. It will be interesting to see how he places in his fourth run on the Iditarod.

Mitch Seavey - Another consistent top 10 finisher and 2 time Champion, Mitch Seavey should easily keep his record this year. While training conditions in and around his home have not been ideal (I live in the area, too, it's sucked), he has put many hours in on other trails. Again, Seavey teams are some of the best trained - and their mushers understand their behavior. A Seavey has won the last four Iditarods (Dallas 3, Mitch 1). I don't expect Mitch to win this year, I won't say that he can't - because I firmly believe he can - but sometimes his strategy gets in the way of gut instinct. Or so it seems. Hopefully none of Team Seavey reads my blog these days. Ha!


Pete Kaiser - Pete is a successful West Coast Alaska team, he's won the Kusko the last two years, and while he isn't always in the top 10 that doesn't mean he can't be. He is a solid dog driver, and as long as his team can handle the warmer temps at the beginning of the race, he should find himself in the top 10 or close to it. He's a very outside chance to win it, but this is Iditarod where ANYTHING can happen.


Robert Sorlie - Typically I choose one that just doesn't seem to make sense even in my mind. It's SO HARD with so many good teams to choose the top 10 and not leave a few out. However, for some reason I just have to have Robert on this year's list. I don't know if it's gut instinct, or just the fact that he's a two time Iditarod Champion and I have faith he can crack the top 10 again. I don't know. All I know is for some reason I want him in my top 10. Maybe it's so I will remember to get a photo of his face this year and not just his dogs. Maybe it's because my gut knows something my brain doesn't.

A few honorable mentions:

Travis Beals - Travis is a young musher who is determined to climb the ranks and hit the mark. He's strong willed out on the trail, and is smart, too. He trains out of Seward, so he had to travel quite a bit to find good snow and trail for the team this winter. I'd look for him to continue to improve in his rankings. He could crack the top 10 this year, I mean, he was just 1 place shy of doing so last year.

Martin Buser - He's normally in my top 10, but honestly I'm not sure he can keep up with the teams of today like he was able to in decades past. However, I would be remiss to leave him off the list as he will be running what is likely an incredibly emotional race. Buser has been in Seattle for the past month being ever vigilant at his son Nikolai's bedside. Nikolai was in a car accident that very nearly cost him his life. He's going to have a long recovery, though prognosis seems to be very good by all reports. Martin felt he had improved enough, and was out of the woods, so he flew back home today. Rohn Buser has withdrawn from the race to go down and help his mother and brother. 

DeeDee Jonrowe - Another fan favorite who's had a difficult year is DeeDee. She lost EVERYTHING but her dogs and one building in the Willow forest fire this summer. Her mother passed away from her battle with cancer. She's had a pretty traumatic 12 months (less than 12 really), and is still finding her bearings. To add to the stress, due to the recent oil production issues (no thanks to government but that's a rant for a different day) her main sponsor Shell pulled out of Alaska... and pulled their sponsorship of her racing team. Still, she's determined to run the Iditarod and make it to Nome. She's always been a determined woman, so I have no doubt she'll make it. Just probably not top 10 (but what a story if she does!).

So tell me what you think - who would be in your top 10? Give me your list in the comments below, and be sure to follow me on Twitter as we get ready for the 44th Iditarod!