Apologies for the INCREDIBLY delayed update here! Wow, it's been a LONG time since a blog post has been made, unfortunately the majority of our updates go to Facebook, but perhaps my new years resolution should be to work more at updating this page!
Here is a bit of an overview of life with the Wildthingz since returning to Two Rivers in September.
We jumped into fall training full force after coming back from Cantwell. The dogs were in excellent shape with a combination of running our summer tour and getting a head start on training down in the cool temperatures of the Mountains in August.
Oh yeah, Richie and I (Emily) got married on September 16th! We had a beautiful ceremony at Twin Bears Camp in Two Rivers with our closest friends and family and a cute little ring bearer, a puppy named Trejo.
We had some personal and environmental hurdles this year, for sure. In October, Richie threw his back out very badly and sustained an injury that ended up preventing him from training for almost three weeks. Then for the month following the initial injury, he had to be incredibly careful not to re-irritate the issue to further set himself back in training. Luckily there are two of us which enabled us to still get sufficient mileage on the dogs during the important fall training months. The temperatures were all over the place October-December and would fluctuate from well above freezing to -25. In December we had a warm spell that prevented us from getting many miles on the dogs and then in January, the same thing happened, along with freezing rain that ruined the trails and made them incredibly dangerous, just a week before our first race, the Two Rivers 200.
Luckily nature was kind to us again and gifted us 6 inches of fresh snow throughout the duration of that race which enabled us to run a safe, strong race. Richie and the dogs came in 2nd place!!
This was an exciting feat, as we were nervous with the dogs training hiccups along the way. Also, we still have a lot of young dogs in our team, including Jet, Django, Heathen and Brutus, all of whom are 2. Then Coltrane and Dizzy are just Yearlings and this was their first race ever! Dizzy was dropped at the first checkpoint as a preventative measure. He had only been added to the race team a week before and wasn't necessarily as capable as the other dogs. Coltrane, on the other hand, stepped his game up and finished the entire 200 mile race with no issues at all! He is a true rockstar, and we are so excited to see what is to come with this dog in the future.
Following the Two Rivers 200, Richie was signed up for the Yukon Quest 300! This was our "big" race for the year. The Dogs' first 300 mile race, as well as my first time handling for a race longer than 200 miles. This race starts in Fairbanks and travels through the home trails of Two Rivers then crosses over Rosebud and Eagle Summits where you drop down to Central. You then travel 70 miles through one of the coldest parts of Alaska, Birch Creek, to Circle City, the end of the line for civilization accessible by road on the Steese Hwy! The trail via dog team is allegedly phenomenal out here, but the drive is as well! It was amazing to see new sights and take in a different part of Alaska.
Richie and the dogs ran a smart, strong race. Going into this, Richie anticipated doing well, hoped to come in the top 5, but wasn't trying to run too competitively. The temperatures were brutal, getting down to -45 F one night on the run out to Circle. The trail conditions were very tricky summiting Rosebud and Eagle as well, a lot of soft, sugary snow coming down hill which can be very dangerous to both dogs and mushers to sustain an injury.
This part of the trail eliminated several teams right off the bat, but running it slow and wise allowed for Richie to avoid any major issues with the dogs. He took lots of extra rest time in between runs which allowed him to gain time out on the trail in front of other teams. He ended up resting a total of 22 hours, where most teams running this race competitively usually only do 16-18 hours. He had the fastest run time on the last 73 mile stretch to the finish, which ended up being faster than his initial run time out to circle on the same trail!
The dogs crossed the finish line back in Central at 12:15 am Alaska Time on Monday night/Tuesday morning in THIRD place!! Richie finished with 9 dogs, the two yearlings Coltrane and Dizzy got dropped at Central, solely to avoid bringing them on two back-to-back 73 mile runs in super cold temps. They were sad to stop running! Wiley got dropped at Circle, as he sustained a minor abrasion on his hind leg that we still are unsure of what happened. But with Richie's resting methods, the 9 dogs finished very strong and in incredible spirits. Everyone chowed down their food that night and in the morning and were ready to go again the next day! They wanted to keep racing, I guess!
We are so proud of our dogs and are excited for what the future holds for them. Now that race season is over, we have lots of time to focus on tours and some fun, recreational trips with the dogs!
We have been in Cantwell, just outside of Denali National Park for the past three and a half months running Dog Cart tours! It has been a beautiful, exciting summer where we have met many tourists whom are interested in what we do. We have had the great opportunity to share our livelihood as dog mushers with these people and received many new followers and even more support! Thank you to all who came out this summer and did a tour, we can't wait for next year!