Friday, March 18, 2011

Back Into the Swing of Things

I had my annual tax appointment with my accountant yesterday, and it looks like I'll get a small refund.  It couldn't come at a better time, as heating oil was delivered while I was away at work, and the bill for that oil was rather astounding.  The two refineries in Alaska make a real killing, keeping the prices jacked up WAY above Lower-48 levels or anything else that might resemble the word "reasonable".  I think they keep the prices just low enough to ensure it isn't profitable to ship refined products up from the west coast.  Thank goodness that summer is coming, and we will enjoy a brief respite for the tyranny of heating oil.

In any event, I can now focus my attention on the dogs, and that really is the important part.  I plan to take another big team out later this morning for a run.  Orion needs a chance to go play and I'm thinking a somewhat longer run is in order.  I think I'll probably be able to get my video recorder to work today, so I may even have some movies to share later on.

Tomorrow will be a big day for Torus and Just.  The AARP Alaska is sponsoring a demonstration of the AARP division that races with the Alaska Dog Musher's Association.  Our little demonstration will be "intermission" entertainment for the crowd gathered downtown for the 2011 GCI Open North American Championship Race - the premier sprint dog race of the world.  We will be doing our demo downtown after the last ONAC competitor departs, but we MUST be finished before the first one returns.  That means we'll have to move right along to have our dogs off the street before those big, fast teams come barreling back in.

This is going to be a really interesting and fun format.  We will be running teams of only 2 dogs, racing 2 blocks up, turn-around with the help of volunteers, and the race the 2 blocks back to the start / finish line.  It will be a "mass start" format, with all three teams racing the downtown streets simultaneously.  That ought to have the dogs REALLY jazzed up. 

I'll be taking my two oldest dogs.  Torus (13 years old) and Just (8 years old) will be doing this fun little race with me (56 years old).  That gives us a combined age of 77 years, not enough to qualify for a huge handicap.  In the actual AARP division races, the largest handicap usually goes to division co-champion Val Mackler, who is in her 80s and still races sled dogs in the division.

I'm thinking this is going to be a lot of fun for Torus and Just, and for me as well.  If you'd like to check out the action, there will be a live-feed webcam covering the ONAC and related downtown events that you can access by clicking HERE

On the Iditarod Trail:
Mushers continue to stream into Nome, and some interesting stories are emerging from the trail.  In today's Fairbanks Daily-News Miner we have a story about how my friend Allen Moore saved rookie musher Karin Hendrickson from hypothermia after her team stalled on the trail near Golovin.   It sounds like Hendrickson's situation was pretty dire, but Allen and his intrepid team of SP Kennel dogs saved the day, and perhaps saved Karin's life as well.

In the same news article we have the story of Kelly Maxiner, who challenged Nicola Petit for "Rookie of the Year" through much of the race.  When his dogs stalled Kelly decided to play lead-dog himself, running ahead of his time for four or five miles before the dogs were willing to go again. 

Jodi Bailey of Chatanika succeeded in achieving her goal of finishing both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod in her rookie year.  She is the first woman in history to do so, and it is a major accomplishment.  She has said that she won't try running both races in the same year again in the future, but she won't have to.  Her husband, Dan Kaduce, is also a long-distance racer and apparently they plan to each run one of the long races annually.  Deciding who will run which may become a family issue, though.

There is little else to report at the moment, and I need to feed the team so we can get an early start for our own adventure.  I'm sure I'll have more to say later.

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