Thursday, June 29, 2023

Picnic Photo Highlights

I apologize for the lateness of the photos. I was hoping to upload them to a facebook album and share them that way, however their latest greatest changes have made it impossible for me to upload anything! Computer is a total 0 after many tries over the last month and I have to fight often for hours just to post a photo from the cell phone. So for now we'll have the highlights on the blog and then eventually I'll make an album in my professional portfolio.

Rookie Lauro Eklund signs up for his first Iditarod and is all smiles.

Hunter Keefe and Isaac Redington keep tabs on the registration
lists for both the Iditarod and Jr. Iditarod.

Rookie Isaac Teaford sits down to register. He will drive a team
from Dallas Seavey racing kennel, but won't be alone in that...

Yes, that's Dallas Seavey getting a hug from daughter Annie as he
signs up to run Iditarod 52!

More under the break. :) 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Twenty six teams sign up opening day for Iditarod 52

Mushers, Volunteers, and fans came together Saturday for the annual Iditarod Picnic and Musher Sign Ups. Musher registration opened at 9:30am and it wasn't too long before social media was abuzz as the first names popped up online. By the end of the day, 21 mushers would sign up in person with 5 sending theirs online. 

Alaska has been under some very wet weather since at least April (and if you count all the snow accumulated all winter and how 2022's summer ended we can safely say it's been nearly a year of WET), but the sun broke through the clouds with only a light breeze. While the gathering still felt small, it was the general consensus that the overall look and feel of the picnic this year was far more positive. As names were added to the list under the registration tent excitement grew. As always, mushers hovered near to get a glimpse at how many were on the roster in direct competition for winning back their entry fee. 

By noon there were ten names signed up in person and three online. Last year fourteen signed up in person with eight choosing to send in their application electronically. Last year there were no Iditarod champions on site at HQ during the picnic, this year there were three. The atmosphere felt different, nearly normal. Aside from a still smallish crowd, and the fact that the teacher's conference was being held in the lower 48 this year, the picnic felt very similar to those from the last 50 years.

Riley Dyche was first in person to sign up - not surprising as he is running tours at HQ this year and was hard at work throughout the entire picnic giving rides to guests at $10 a pop. Rookie of the Year for 2023 Eddie Burke was next, with several rookies behind him. Fan favorite Hunter Keefe is once again running dogs out of Ramie Redington's kennel. Dallas Seavey Racing was on hand at the picnic as rookie Isaac Teaford signed up for his first Iditarod followed by the Five-Time Iditarod champion.

That's right, Dallas's "taking time off until my kid doesn't think I'm cool" plan is over... his daughter turns 13 in another month and hinted that she's ready for dad to get back to racing. Still, it was surprising when he took a seat at the table and handed over his already filled out paperwork and credit card over to the crew.

Brent Sass made the drive down to throw his hat in the ring. The 2022 Iditarod Champion chose last summer to register from "somewhere on a beach", but this year he decided to do so in person. As his "Wild and Free" truck pulled into the parking lot the tables were buzzing in anticipation. 

Also buzzing was Barbara Redington who kept tabs on the Junior Iditarod sign ups (her grandchildren both signed up at the picnic, racing each other to see who would get that number one slot... Ellen won) as well as trying to find out where her son - reigning champion Ryan Redington - was. Dressed in a button up shirt (with sponsor logo Inukshuk Dog Food), Ryan finally made his way into the picnic to sign up. Ryan was all smiles as he was greeted and congratulated by friends and fellow mushers.

Jessie Royer made her way back to Iditarod last year after the pandemic kept her away due to border issues, but this year she was able to once again attend the picnic. She reported that she was very sore as she had an accident with her horse and was pretty bruised up. She was all stories and smiles at the picnic, though, and if she didn't tell you about the accident you wouldn't know.

Seeing Double Racing Kennel were all present for the picnic, but only Anna Berington signed up to run Iditarod 52. Anna was overheard saying how she and Kristy plan to split the races this year due to the make up of the kennel this year.

Registration in person closed at 2:30pm with the drawing for which two mushers would win back their entry fee being held at 3pm... at about 2:58pm Nicolas Petit arrived to sign up. Petit was giving tours and hoping to have a sponsor to be able to make the entry fee - it took a little longer than he thought but he made it and after a quick talk with officials he was allowed to make the roster before they announced the winners of the raffle.

Rookie Joshua Robbins won the dog food ladle and dog dishes, Dallas Seavey won 500 dog booties.
And then what the mushers were all waiting for, the entry fees, were decided - Eddie Burke Jr. and Brent Sass were able to get their refunds same day this year. Brent was overheard saying that it was worth the drive!

Mushers caught up with each other, as they also celebrated the number of dogs going back to 16 (Jessie Holmes responded with "as it should be!"). CEO Rob Urbach made his rounds chatting with most of the mushers. At the end of the picnic he announced that there was a Musher Incentive program they would have this year where each musher would be getting their own link to share to sell Insider subscriptions and other Iditarod merchandise with a percentage to be shared with the musher.

21 mushers signed up in person, 5 online. Of those signed up officially on the first day, 8 are rookies. There is known to be at least one more musher who has sent in their application, so expect the list to grow in the next few days as rumor is there are several that didn't make the official list today (applications in the mail/sent in after closing of registration today).

Riley Dyche
Eddie Burke, Jr.
Josi Thyr (R)
Connor McMahon (R)
Jason Mackey
Jeff Deeter
Hunter Keefe
Lauro Eklund (R)
Isaac Teaford (R)
Dallas Seavey*
Jessie Royer
Jessica Klejka
Brent Sass*
Gabe Dunham (R)
Mille Porsild
Joshua Robbins (R)
Anna Berington
Jessie Holmes
Ryan Redington*
Travis Beals
Mats Pettersson
Rob Cooke
Bryce Mumford (R)
Erin Altemus (R)
Matt Hall
Nicolas Petit
* Notes past Champion
(R) Notes Rookie status

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Iditarod Picnic and sign ups set for Saturday

Jessie Holmes and Dan Kaduce chat at the 2022
Iditarod Picnic & Sign Ups. Iditarod HQ.
June 25, 2022
Happy Summer Solstice, IditaFans! We're nearing the end of June and with that comes the final Saturday of the month being the kick off for the next Iditarod. No, teams are not running any time soon to Nome, but they are dreaming big as the official opening of registration for next year's race opens Saturday morning at 9:30am Alaska time.

The Picnic is a thank you to the countless hours put in to make the race successful each year by the numerous volunteers throughout the State of Alaska. Located in Wasilla at the Iditarod Headquarters, it is an informal but festive get together for mushers, volunteers, and fans to chat with one another in the relaxed Alaskan setting.

Though the picnic is about the volunteers and feeds over one hundred people each summer, there's some very serious stuff going on as this is also when mushers show up to through their hat in the ring for the next Iditarod. Mushers that sign up in person and stay through the whole picnic are eligible to win their entry fee back as well as possible other door prizes (typically dog food and other items for mushing purposes). 

The Iditarod Headquarters is a popular tourist destination throughout the summer, with tour buses coming in regularly to stop and drop off vacationers wanting to learn about the last great race. This does not take a holiday on picnic day, so adding them into the mix makes for a very busy and bustling day for those working the gift shop inside HQ. 

Most years there are also dog cart rides run by an Iditarod kennel. These happen the entirety of summer and, like everything else, do not stop just because the picnic is happening. For years the Redingtons (most recently Raymie and Barb) conducted the tours, but after "retiring" from the gig in 2021, it's now Riley Dyche's party this summer. Not only do visitors get to take a ride, they also get to meet the dogs and often get to snuggle puppies. What's not to love, right?

Attendees can also expect to see a few "old timers" from the early days of Iditarod. Often you'll see Dick Mackey and Dan Seavey attend to swap essentially the same stories about those first few years of Iditarod. Both have seen their mushing legacy continue in their children and grandchildren and both can boast of their accomplishments (Dan is father to Iditarod Champ Mitch Seavey and grandfather to Iditarod Champion record holder Dallas Seavey, Dick Mackey is father to Iditarod Champions Rick Mackey and the legendary Lance Mackey). There are always several Redingtons on hand and we often see fan favorite DeeDee Jonrowe stop by to check in.

The great thing about the picnic is everyone is laid back and you can easily snag a relaxed photo with your favorite musher and get autographs. There are door prizes for volunteers attending, some old Iditarod memorabilia and some are door prizes donated by the kennels. No matter the weather people are in a good mood and everyone is eager to see who puts their name on the list.

If you're local, stop by. Even if you aren't a volunteer it's a nice way to learn a little bit about the race and maybe catch the volunteer bug. If you're visiting Alaska and are traveling through Wasilla be sure to make a stop at the Iditarod Headquarters. Even if you miss out on the picnic, there's still a good chance you'll run into a musher or two any day of the week (anyone bitten by the Iditarod bug can't seem to stay away). If nothing else you can get you some IditaSwag and maybe snuggle a puppy (but man they will frisk you before you leave if they think you tried sneaking a puppy in your pocket).

The one thing EVERYONE will be wondering throughout Saturday is who and how many will sign up for Iditarod 52. While registration is open through November, the biggest surge is always opening day. Who do you hope will sign up, or who do you expect to sign up? How many teams do you think will sign up opening day? Comment below with your thoughts or if you're planning to attend the picnic! (and if you see me I'm shy but please don't hesitate to come up and say hi. I just don't initiate conversation, but I don't mind holding conversation!)

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).

Monday, June 19, 2023

Iditarod raises purse ahead of 2024 race

After six years of no purse raises that saw inflation play a pivotal role in the shrinking numbers on the roster, the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) announced Saturday that they had raised the overall purse for the 2024 race.

With just a week away from the opening of registration for the 2024 Iditarod, it's quite obvious that the ITC hopes that this will boost opening day sign ups. Last year's race saw the smallest roster in race history with just 32 taking off for Nome, and only 21 signing up at the picnic. One of the top reasons given by teams as to why they didn't sign up was because the financial strain training and entering the race is on most kennels. 

The ITC announced an additional $50,000 to the TOTAL purse to include the "special awards" (like Humanitarian, First to the Coast, Most Inspirational, etc.) They have not given a breakdown as of yet how the purse will pay out but announced the purse for 2024 will be $574,000. If they hold to the traditional purse break down, the majority will go to the top 20 finishers before giving the rest of the field $1049. 

The Iditarod stated:

"This increase was a result of a commitment and subsequent fundraising effort by the Iditarod Board of Directors. “Given that the pandemic and inflation disproportionately impacted our mushing community we feel it is very important to increase the prize purse at this time. We realize more is needed to further defray the increasing costs of maintaining an Iditarod kennel, but this is the start of what we hope will be our ability to further increase the purse,” said Mike Mills, President of the Iditarod Board of Directors."

The release also promised more announcements on fundraising initiatives to support the Last Great Race coming soon. 

Sign ups for the 2024 Iditarod open on Saturday, June 24, 2023 at 9:30am (Alaska Time). Mushers may sign up in person or online. At this time (Monday, June 19) the Iditarod's link to the "2024 Information for Mushers" link does not work, so it will be interesting to see when that goes live to see rules/entry fees/etc.

What do you think of this announcement? Do you think this will be enough to see a surge of sign ups this year? Any guess as to how many sign up Saturday? Comment below with your thoughts!

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Friday, June 9, 2023

2023-24 Race Schedule

KattiJo Deeter and team at the restart of Iditarod 51.

Race List

Alpine Creek Excursion Sled Dog Race
December 9, 2023

Knik 200*
January 6, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

MUSH Synnfjell
January 7, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook

Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race
CANCELED - lack of snow
Website / Facebook

Gunflint Mail Run
Postponed - February 10, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook

Bogus Creek 150
January 13, 2023
Website / Facebook 

Copper Basin 300*
January 13, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race*
Website / Facebook 

Willow 300*
It's complicated.

Frost Mountain Sled Dog Race
January 20, 2024
Website / Facebook

Warm Lake Stage Race
January 24, 2024
Website / Facebook 

Kuskokwim 300*
January 26, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

Pedigree Stage Stop Race
January 26, 2024
Website / Facebook

Tug Hill Challenge
Website / Facebook

Idaho Sled Dog Challenge*
CANCELED - Lack of Snow
Website / Facebook 

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon*
CANCELED - Lack of Snow
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

February 7, 2024
Website / Facebook 

Caledonia Classic
February 2, 2024
Website / Facebook

Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby
Website / Facebook

Yukon Quest Alaska*
February 3, 2024 
Website / Facebook 

Yukon Quest Canada*
February 3, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

Willow Jr. 100
February 9, 2024
Website / Facebook

Race to the Sky*
CANCELED - Lack of Snow
Website / Facebook 

Wilderness Sled Dog Race
February 10, 2024
Website / Facebook

Goose Bay 150*
February 10, 2024

Bergebyløpet N70
February 9, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook

Two Rivers 200/100*
February 15, 2024
Website / Facebook 

PG Expedition Abitibi
February 18, 2024
Website / Facebook 

Amundsen Race*
February 22, 2024
Website / Facebook 

CANCELED - Lack of Snow
Website / Facebook 

Canadian Challenge*
February 19, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race
CANCELED - lack of snow
Website / Facebook

Junior Iditarod
February 24, 2024
Website / Facebook

CopperDog 150
CANCELED - lack of snow
Website / Twitter / Facebook

Iditarod 52*
March 3, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

Can-Am Crown International*
CANCELED - lack of snow
Website / Facebook 

March 8, 2024
Website / Facebook 

Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Run*
March 9, 2024
Website / Twitter / Facebook 

Taaqpak 120
March 2024
Website / Facebook

La Chic-chocs
March 15, 2024

T-Dog 200*
March 24, 2024
Website / Facebook

Tok Race of Champions
March 30, 2024
Website / Facebook 

Hudson Bay Quest
April 6, 2024
Website / Facebook

Nome to Council 200*

Kobuk 440*
April 4, 2024
Website / Facebook

Junior Kobuk 440
April 2024
Website / Facebook

*Iditarod/Yukon Quest Qualifying Race

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".