Meet the 2015 Iditarod Team!

February 27, 2015

I haven’t run the Iditarod since 2012.  I can’t wait to do it again. This will be my 7thyear, I have finished all the previous six. 

This year we partnered with my old friends Ed and Tasha Stielstra, and Nature’s Kennel   from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.   I was a handler for Ed back when I first took up mushing and have run puppy teams for him in several previous races.   Ed is a veteran musher and 7-time finisher of the Iditarod.  

Ed is not running this year.   We brought 15 youngsters and 3 Iditarod veterans from Nature’s Kennel down to Idaho in September.   The last post showed the training cabin and kennel we set up for the campaign.   This post is a quick chance to meet the 2015 Iditarod team.

Pictured in order are Ayun, Belly Button, Blast, Digger & Gordon, Henry, James, Joe Cool, Mukluk, Scott, Thomas, Stu, and Woodstock.

Team members who weren’t on the run the day we took the yearbook pictures are Krister, Linus, Loafer, Pig Pen, and Clog.

The goal with a puppy team is to show them a great time on their first trip down the Iditarod Trail.  We won’t be trying to be first at halfway, or to finish in a particular place this year.   Team size for the Iditarod is 16.  We will have 13 to 14 puppies and 2-3 veterans to make up the race team.  All 18 have trained incredibly well and hard.  They have come a long way since the long drive down from Michigan.   They are all race ready, and it’s going to be hard to leave two of them off the final team.  They will return back home to Ed, Tasha, and Nature’s Kennel after the race.   I am sure many of them will be Iditarod veterans with Ed for years to come. 


First post as we rush headlong in to the 2015 Iditarod

February 26

I realize there is a whole training season to catch up on now! The race starts in just over a week.

We live up in Ketchum, ID but our training kennel is about 45 miles south and west of Ketchum, outside Fairfield, Idaho on the Camas Prairie.   Just north of town are the Soldier Mountains and Smokey Dome at 10,095 ft. 

 Pictures above of our training cabin and kennel.   This is from yesterday, February 25 and as you can see we have very little snow in the prairie at 5,000 ft.  No one is going to look at this and immediately recognize it as the kennel of an Iditarod team, but the location has been ideal.  We had a lot of snow in December and January.  The prairie is generally agricultural with lots of right-of-ways, and we can run the team with sleds right out of the back yard if we’ve got snow, and with the ATV if we don’t.  We often load up the kennel trailer and head to high and snowy ground in the Soldiers, the Trinities, the Pioneers, the Smokies, and the Sawtooths.   Some of the training runs we do make the passes and summits of the Yukon Quest seem tame.  Our runs are over 50 miles at this point, and we have over 2,800 miles of training in with the dog team this season.     I’ll tell you more about the dog team in the next post. 

Below is our handler Jake Swift and yours truly.   I know, Jake Swift sounds like a name straight out of Hollywood Central Casting for a musher.   Jake has been awesome and is the secret sauce for my program.   He is at the training kennel full time to take care of the team, and gets them ready for me to come down from Ketchum to do training runs.  He has also developed in to a fine and promising musher in his own right.  I train the team 2-3 nights during the week and bring the family to the cabin every weekend and usually train both nights.  It’s great to get a reasonable amount of sleep and to have the efficiency of the team being ready when I show up.  There is a ski resort at the top of the peak in the first picture called Soldier Mountain, and my oldest daughter Kali and I ski there generally every weekend trip.

Below is a picture of veteran dog team member, Ayun, in the cabin mooching pancakes from my youngest daughter Kira.