Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kobuk 440 flashback

Greetings from Fairbanks!

Flew back here from Kotzebue with the pooches a few days ago. Unfortunately the flight was overloaded so we've had to stick around here a few extra days waiting for our sleds and racing gear. Feels like Miami, plus 30, compared to the wind chilled sub zero temps. on the coast. The dawgs are all happy and rested up once again though Omen is in heat and the boys have been a bit 'wild' of late. Much like any long-distance mushing event the 440 was a rollercoaster, not only the terrain we covered but emotionally as well. The team was a smorgasborg of Quest and Iditarod dogs as well as our beloved 10 year old leader Sampson who would be enjoying his 'retirement run'. Mother Nature was quite kind this year with temps. hovering around zero, snow flurries as well- dog friendly weather. The race rules stipulated that only 12 pooches were allowed per team so our remaining dogs participated in the Arctic Circle Championships, a 3 day, 25 mile heat race- Dempsey Woods and Mike Jayne were using them. Finishers for the Kobuk race included Flame and Titan in lead, followed in swing by Sally and Blondie, Nova, Colby, Mahoosic and Maestro rounded out the squad. Amazing to think that a third of our 23 competitive racing dogs this year were sprinters last season. Most of them competed in 6 or 7 mid and long-distance events with Flame finishing every one. As they say, "A good dog is a good dog." The average trail miles covered this season for most of these kids was over 4 thousand miles- good food+ good attitude= an enjoyable trip with enlightening entertainment. Former Iditarod champ Joe May was right when he said, "Give me a happy ten dog team and I could travel around the world." These northern beasts spirit is simply amazing, leaves one in tears on a daily basis as we saunter on down then trail heading off into the unknown. It's interesting that the four dropped dogs were all large males: Dozer and Piccalo, Darkie and finally Sampson. All of these males had been sitting for a month while I was racing the Iditarod so I was quite impressed that they all made it between 250- 400 miles.

A special thanks to Jesse and Alisa Guzman and the Jayne family who took care of our dropped Iditarod dogs while we figured out a way to fly them to the coast. It's always tough to drop a pooch from the squad but their health and well being shall always be priority #1. Sampson, our largest, 65 pd. dawg, is from Lance Mackey who eventually won this year's event. Congrats Coldfoot Brother! We'll be heading towards Whitehorse later this afternoon, it's about a 14 hour drive. I'm sure Tamra can't wait for our return. She has been heroically caring for our 40 remaining pooches as well as working her full time job. We're still hoping to travel down to the 'lower 48' in early May as we go from school to school showing others what a beautiful and unique lifestyle we enjoy up here in the NORTH. Presentations include a short video, chance to view numerous pix and trophies, q and a session and most importantly- a chance to meet Sampson! Posters, pictures, ball caps and t-shirts will be available for purchase as well. For more info. contact us at 867 456-7714. Looking forward to seeing as many of you as is possible.

Enjoy the view, Hugh
p.s.: A more detailed account of the 440 and Iditarod will be featured in our 1st novel which shall hopefully be completed by this fall.


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