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