Yukon Quest after all...Hello from the Yukon. Not even a month ago, I wrote in the last newsletter about how much I enjoy the armchair mushing. Well that armchair has been replaced by the good old Gatt sitdown sled, or oldmans sled and I am signed up for the Yukon Quest again. Needless to say I have gotten quite a few funny emails, questioning my sanity.
Signing up for the Quest? How did that happen? Well? Running dogs seems to be truly addictive. And running a well trained team even more so. And that is what I have been doing with running Gerry Willomitzer´s second team. They are a nice group of dogs. They are not completely unknown to me, with me hanging around Gerry´s yard for many years but also having had some of his dogs on the ice for the glacier summer tours and running them there. The big difference was not spending any time fall training. I was more than ready for a break, to get out, do something else . It did did not take me long to get out of shape after the summer glacier season. A lot of good German food helped me along in gaining quite a bit of weight too. After one of the first training runs with Gerry having to stand up the whole 60 mile run, I was very glad he gave me a sit down sled for the next few runs. And that is what happens when 2 mushers spend too much time on the runners, ideas are thrown around, plans are made. In the end Gerry and I decided on Gerry running the new Norton Sound 450 race from Unalakleet to Nome, which is s nice finish line run for young team and me running the Quest. And that all for sudden meant for things to be kicked into high gear. Even Gerry could not help but notice, that I am in a much better mood than normally this time of the year. Main reasons: Yes, I did get a break this fall! Finally!!! I did not have to put up with the usual dog handler drama. Needless to say, he did even more so with having one of those usual “ dreamer types” around, who are attracted by the Jack London stories. Dog handlers come in 2 sorts:
The dreamers, who have no clue what they get themselves into. They might have good intentions, but live so far off our daily lives, that they are later overwhelmed by the workload and commitment we give. I already get an allergy going, when the application email starts : “It always has been my dream…. And I own a pet Siberian“.
Then there is the second, way more rare type of dog handler, who is somebody actually being interested in racing, knowing what that game entails and looking to learn and work. Gerry is lucky to have a handler like that around too, who clearly is very motivated and eager to learn. Being in a good mood is crucial around dogs, as they can sense a mushers feeling very quickly. Gerry and I both are lucky to have good friends, who also quickly stepped up to the plate. Within 3 days of the decision to run the Quest, my food drop meat is cut and bagged ! THANKS Karine and Kelsey. The Dawson crew is set. Markus and Didier both have a lot of experience with being in Dawson during the Quest for many years. In Fairbanks I will stay “ as usual “ with Gisela and Dieter Dolif, much looking forward to that. I am pretty exited to run the Quest after all and am glad Gerry is trusting me with his team, after all he counts on them being ready for a competitive Iditarod run.
It is a fun group of dogs. Very different from what I am used to. Much more spunky and speedy, not only because they are much younger than mine, but because Gerry is training for speed. There is a lot more females in the team as I usually run. Paula, Sporty, Scary, Storm, Hocus, Highlander, Hurricane are all females. They were “ new dogs “ to me as I did not have them on the glacier. Others like Drum, Wrangel, Stevie, Carl, Houdini, Crusader and Sanford I know a little better from working on the ice with them. The dogs are still in Gerry´s yard and I have been driving back and forth each day. Almost feels like having a regular job driving to Whitehorse that often. Just very odd working hours. At some point, I will have to load up some of the gang to have them spend some time in the ole Cabin on the couch, specially dogs like Paula would surely enjoy that. Have fun following along in February. I am going to carry my “ real camera “ along, as well as a gopro video camera and voice recorder. If they will work under the extreme conditions, we are no doubt going to encounter, there should be some nice footage coming out of this years Quest.
Happy Trails once again!!!! Let the addiction continue…