Showing posts with label Dog Sledding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dog Sledding. Show all posts

Iditarod 2017: The Race Resumes in Fairbanks Today

Over the weekend, the 2017 Iditarod got underway in Anchorage Alaska, with 74 mushers setting off following the ceremonial start. But, as I reported last week, the regular restart point at the Campbell Airstrip isn't suitable for use this year because of a lack of snow. So instead, the the sled drivers ant their dogs had to be relocated to Fairbanks, where they'll restart the race today.

This is the third time in Iditarod history that the restart point has been moved to Fairbanks, and once again it is due to poor snow conditions on the trail. While Alaska as a whole has seen plenty of snow this year, the area around Anchorage hasn't been getting the necessary dumps of fresh powder to allow the sleds to run efficiently. Up north in Fairbanks, things are much better however and when the race gets back underway today, the dogs will have plenty of snow to play in.

Since Saturday's start was just a ceremonial send-off, there are no rankings yet. As of this posting, it is still about two hours until the race officially gets going, but don't look for the true contenders to start to emerge for a few days. The race to Nome will cover 980 miles (1577 km), and it is as much a test of endurance as it is speed. For now, the veterans will be mostly content to lurk in the middle of the pack, waiting for the right time to truly get going. By Friday of this week we should have a better idea of where things stand, and who will be the teams to watch heading into the Yukon.

You can follow the entire race on the Iditarod website, which posts all kinds of updates on the standings. Keep in mind when you look at those rankings however that they tend to be a bit skewed  until everyone has taken their mandatory 8 hour and 24 hours breaks. Still, if you know what to look for, it is easy to see who is running well and has a good strategy.

"The Last Great Race" should be interesting to follow once again this year.

Video: The Last Great Race - A Lieutenant Colonel's Iditarod Tale

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Roger "Snowdog" Lee has been training for the 2017 Iditarod for the past three years. Tomorrow, he'll take to the starting line in Anchorage to being "The Last Great Race." His life-long dream will come true, but the real challenge is still ahead. Find out more about Lee and his Iditarod ambitions in this great video, which gives us an idea of what the mushers go through in preparing for the race and endure while out on the trail. Just 1000 miles to Nome!

The 2017 Iditarod Begins Tomorrow

One of my favorite events of the year gets underway tomorrow in Anchorage, Alaska. That's where the ceremonial start of this year's Iditarod sled dog race will get underway. This year there will be 73 mushers heading to the starting line with the intent of racing nearly 1000 miles (1609 km) to the finish line in Nome. The race is a test of determination and endurance not only for the men and women who enter, but their teams of sled dogs as well, with the route passing through remote sections of Alaska wilderness where conditions in March are often harsh.

For the third time in the race's history the course has been altered. A lack of snow in the Anchorage area this year has left the trail in a sorry state heading into the start of the race, which was the case back in 2003 and 2015 as well. So, after the teams have their ceremonial start tomorrow, they'll travel 350 miles (563 km) to the restart point in Fairbanks, where conditions are already predicted to be extremely cold, hovering around 0ºF/-17ºC on Monday when the race will resume. Usually the race restarts in Willow instead.

Fortunately, the rest of Alaska hasn't been without its fair share of snowfall. Moving north to Fairbanks will give the racers, and their dogs, a much better trail to run on. And, conditions have been colder this winter too, which bodes well for the race too. In recent years, warmer temperatures have often left the trail soft and wet, which is harder for the sleds to run on. That will likely make the 980 mile (1577 km) dash to Nome a bit easier and faster.

Normally when writing a post about the start of the Iditarod I would run through a list of mushers who are the leading contenders heading into the event. But, let's face it. After winning the race four of the last five years (only losing to his dad), Dallas Seavey is the clear favorite once again. At the age of 29, he's poised to rewrite all of the records in this race. His father Mitch will probably be amongst the leaders as well, and look for racers like Jeff King, Aliy Zirkle, and Hugh Neff to be in the mix too.

As usual, it will take a few days into the race to see who is running well and to watch the strategies play out. There will probably be a few surprises at the top of the leaderboard as things first unfold. But, by the midway point it will be obvious who the contenders will be. Once racers get through their mandatory 24 and 8 hour rest periods and start to turn for Nome. But at this point, that is a long way off, so for now, we'll just have to watch the ceremonial start and let things play out. It should be an interesting race once again.

Men's Journal Suggests Six Winter Adventures to Take Advantage of the Cold

If you live in the U.S. right now, chances are you're experiencing the "polar vortex" that has brought cold conditions to just about every part of the country. Winter is still technically a week away, but temperatures have dipped well below freezing, and in some place are even dangerously frigid right now. But, as any dedicated outdoor enthusiast will tell you, the winter is just another season to play outside, provide you have the proper gear and the right motivation. To that end, Men's Journal has shared a list of six adventures that make the most out of the cold.

Some of the suggestions – like visit Yosemite in the winter and Fat Biking in Sun Valley, Idaho– are specific to certain locations, but most of them are things you can do just about anywhere there is a bit of snow. Those options include learning to ice climb, cross-country skiing under the stars, go backcountry skiing, and learn to dog sled. MJ has some good suggestions on where to do all of those things as well, but those adventures are a bit more flexible, with opportunities to embark on those winter escapes in many different places.

Of course, none of these activities are going to be especially enjoyable if you don't have proper gear to keep you warm. Make sure you have a good layering system, as well as boots, a hat, and a good pair of gloves. If you're well equipped, winter can be just as enjoyable as any other season to be outdoors, and often times it is even more rewarding. There is nothing quite like hitting the backcountry and finding you have the place all to yourself.

One of my all-time favorite trips was a winter excursion to Yellowstone National Park a few years back. The place is utterly spectacular – and completely deserted – in the winter months. And yes, it was indeed cold, with temperatures dropping well below 0ºF (-17ºC), it was still an amazing place to be. If you haven't done that adventure, definitely put it on your list. You won't be disappointed.

Stay warm, stay active, and enjoy the season. It has a lot to offer.

Video: Mushing Explained - What Makes Dogs and Mushers Great Partners?

We continue our "Mushing Explained" series from Alaska Public Media today with another video, this time explaining the bond that forms between the sled dogs and their mushers, and how that makes them work together as a team. In order to compete in an event like the Iditarod, the musher and dogs have to be on the same page, or neither will be happy, nor be able to complete the grueling 1000 mile (1600 km) trail. This is something Brent Sass learned the hard way in this year's race, when his dogs refused to run for him after he pushed them too hard over the course of the event. For the mushers, these dogs are like family, and they treat them as such. Seeing the bond between them is amazing, and you'll get a glimpse of that here.

Video: Mushing Explained - Training for the Trail

Dallas Seavey may have locked up his fourth win of the Iditarod a few days back, but the race still continues in Alaska, where teams are continuing to cross the finish line in Nome. Meanwhile, the Alaska Public Media is also continuing to produce videos in their "Mushing Explained" series, this time sharing inside information on how both the musher and his or her dogs prepare for the grueling Iditarod race. This short video below tells us how they prepare for the rigors of the Alaskan wilderness.

Video: Mushing Explained - Gearing Up for the Trail

Ever wondered what gear the mushers of the Iditarod carry with them during the race? Then you'll definitely want to watch the latest "Mushing Explained" video from Alaska Public Media. It gives us a glimpse at what some of the top competitors in the race take with them, fully knowing they will be out on the trail for 10+ days in most cases. Check it out below.

2016 Iditarod: Dallas Seavey Wins in Record Time!

The winner of the 2016 Iditarod was crowned earlier this morning when 29-year old Dallas Seavey crossed the finish line at 2:20 AM local time. For Seavey, it was his third win in a row, and fourth overall, putting him in great company with a few elite mushers who have managed to win "the Last Great Race" that many times. He also managed to reach Nome in record time.

Dallas managed to finish 45 minutes ahead of his father – Mitch – who came into Nome at 3:05 local time as well. The duo are the only two mushers to have completed the race thus far. At this point, it looks like Brent Sass will likely take third place, as he held a more than a four hour lead over Aliy Zirkle in the battle for third place.

The Seavey family now hold six titles when you include Mitch's two wins. Mushing clearly runs in the family, as Dallas' grandfather Dan was one of the competitors in the first Iditarod, which took place back in 1973.

This time out, Dallas used a bit of different strategy. He allowed his dogs to rest more in the early days of the race, holding them back some to conserve energy for the stretch run. He took his mandatory 24-hour rest in Cripple, where a number of other teams did the same. But after that, he was off and running, and soon was in a familiar place at the top of the leaderboard with only his dad and Sass offering much competition. By the time he reached the coast, it became apparent that it was going to take a monumental effort to try to catch him. In the end, Dallas covered the 975 mile (1569 km) course – running from Anchorage to Nome – in just 8 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes. That breaks his own record set back in 2014.

In winning this year's race, Dallas joins the elite company of seven racers who have four or more wins. That list includes Susan Butcher, Martin Buser, Lance Mackey, Doug Swingley, and Jeff King with four wins each, and Rick Swenson who stands alone with five victories.

Congratulations to Dallas on another impressive win, and good luck to the remaining competitors out on the course. Most will still take a number of days to reach the finish, with a lot of racing yet to come.

Iditarod 2016: Father and Son Battle for the Lead on the Trail

This past weekend was an eventful one in Alaska, where the 2016 Iditarod continues to unfold. We're now more than a week into the race, and the lead mushers have turned towards Nome. But as the final stages unfold, this year's race is shaping up to be another epic competition between father and son.

At the moment, 29-year old Dallas Seavey leads the race as he looks to join some very elite company with 4 career wins. Dallas is out of the checkpoint at Elim, where he is being chased by Brent Sass – who is currently running in second place – and father Mithc Seavey who is in third. Those three men are the only ones who have departed from Elim right now, which means they are now less than 125 miles (201 km) from the finish line, with the winner potentially being declared tomorrow. The rest of the time five include Aliy Zirkle running in 4th and Wade Marrs in 5th.

The 2016 edition of "The Last Great Race" looks like it could be a close one. The two Seaveys and Sass left Elim just 31 minutes separating all three of them. Looking at the leaderboard, Sass is moving the fastest out on the trail, which means he could pass Dallas on the way to White Mountain, which sits just 77 miles (123 km) from the end point in Nome. What happens between now and then will be interesting to watch unfold. Particularly since all of the top mushers have now taken their 8 and 24-hour mandatory rest periods, so strategy will play a huge role in determining the winner.

Meanwhile, the weekend was eventful in other ways, with not all of them good. On Saturday, a man named Arnold Demoski caused quite a scene when he drove his snowmobile into two dogsled teams at speeds over 100 mph (160 km/h). Demoski first attacked Aliy Zirkle, injuring one of her dogs before riding off. Later, he rammed his snowmobile into Jeff King's team as well, injuring two more dogs, and killing a third. He was later arrested, and is now being held under house arrest. His defense? He say that he got black-out drunk on Friday night, and was operating his snowmobile while under the influence. Demoski says he doesn't even remember doing the things he is accused of.

If you know anything about these mushers, you know that they care about their dogs greatly. Getting unexpectedly attacked while out on the trail must have been a tremendous shock, and losing one of their dogs comes with great sadness. Both Zirkle and King have continued in the race however, as they look to finish the event they started.

I'll be keeping a close eye on the race as everything unfolds over the next couple of days. The winner should reach Nome sometime tomorrow or Wednesday at the very latest.

Iditarod 2016: Race Leaders Take Mandatory 24-Hour Break

As we head into the weekend, the 2016 Iditarod sled dog race is starting to heat up. The top mushers are now more than 425 miles into the race, with most of those at the top of the leaderboard having taken their mandatory 24-hour break. As expected, the top contenders are bunched up near the top, although there is still more than halfway to go before the reach Nome, with a lot of racing to be done.

As I write this, Brent Sass is in the lead and is the first musher out of the checkpoint in Cripple. In second place, just 2.5 hours back, is Aliy Zirkle, followed by Jeff King, defending champ Dallas Seavey, and Nicolas Petit rounding out the top five. Of those, King is in the most precarious position, as he has yet to rest his dogs for the required 24 hours, and will most certainly tumble down the leaderboard when he does.

Most of the rest of the field has now taken that time off, allowing their dogs to rest and get ready for the stretch run to Nome. The leaders are expected to reach that point sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday. But first, they'll face another 500+ miles out on the trail, including the rugged Yukon, and another mandatory 8-hour rest period as well.

It should be interesting to see how the race unfolds over the next few days. At the moment, just about anyone in the top ten has a chance, although Dallas Seavey is the musher who is moving most quickly and efficiently. A lot can happen over the next few days though, and who reaches Nome first will likely be in question right up until the end.

By Monday we should have a better idea of who the final contenders are. Stay tuned for more.

Video: Mushing Explained - Meet the Dogs

As the 2016 Iditarod continues to unfold in Alaska, we get another video in the Mushing Explained series from Alaska Public Media.  Yesterday, we had a video that introduced us to the series, and another on designing the perfect dogsled. Today, we get an introduction to the dogs themselves, as we learn what makes a good sled dog, what mushers look for when selecting their teams, and which breeds are most common in the Iditarod itself. If you've ever wondered about these strong pups, you'll learn everything you need to know in this 2+ minute clip.

Video: Mushing Explained - Everything You Need to Know About Dogsledding

As the 2016 Iditarod continues to unfold in the wilds of Alaska, the state's public media department is producing a series of videos that explain the sport of mushing to those who are new to dogsledding. The videos will be released over the course of the race, with six planned in total. The first two videos have already been posted to YouTube, and you can watch them below.

The first clip is a short and sweet introduction to the new series, which gives viewers an idea of what to expect. It also features some good footage shot prior to the start of the event. Check it out here:

The second video starts to go into more detail on the sport by taking a look at what it takes to design the perfect dogsled. You may think all sleds are created equal, but that is definitely not the case, as you'll see here. Just like race car drivers, the top mushers also go to great pains to ensure there sled is fast and built to last out on the demanding trail. 

Iditarod 2016: A Familiar Name at the Top of the Leaderboard

The 2016 Iditarod sled dog race continues to unfold in Alaska, where a familiar name has now taken the lead, even as other contenders lurk not far back. Trail conditions are said to be good, but not great early on, but just four days into the race, the front runners are already setting a fast pace.

As of this writing, three-time winner and defending champ Dallas Seavey is currently in the lead, and is the only musher out of the Ophir checkpoint. That means he's already logged more than 352 miles (566 km) as he looks to earn his 4th win at the age of 29.

There is still a long way to go yet of course, and there are some very talented mushers lurking not far back. In second place at the moment is Brett Sass, with Nicolas Petit, Ken Anderson, and Iditarod legend Lance Mackey rounding out the top five. Each of those men are into Ophir at this point, but have not departed that CP as of yet.

The race is expected to take about nine days to complete, which would put the winner into Nome sometime early next week, most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. There is a lot of racing to be done before then of course, and most of the racers have yet to take either their mandatory 8-hour or 24-hour rest periods. When and where those breaks take place will play a strategic role in how the race eventually turns out. But the real question now is, can anyone catch Dallas Seavey, or has he gone out to the lead too early and can his dogs maintain the pace. We'll just have to continue to watch to see how it all plays out.

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Iditarod 2016: The Race to Nome is On!

The 2016 Iditarod got underway this past weekend in Alaska, where 85 mushers and their dogsled teams have now set out on a 1000 mile (1600 km) race that began in Anchorage, and should wrap up sometime next week in Nome.

As with last year's race, the trail conditions are being watched very closely. The classic Iditarod Trail hasn't seen a lot of snow this year, and in order to hold the ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday, trains had to deliver snow, which was then deposited on the streets. Out in the wild, there is a bit more snow to help drive the sleds along, but much of the route will be run on frozen rivers. This year, as they do in all even-numbered years, the teams will be taking the more northerly route to help keep the trail as well protected and preserved as possible.

As of now, the lead mushers are into the checkpoint at Finger Lake, which is located 123 miles (197 km) into the competition. As of this writing, Nicolas Petit leads the pack, with Hugh Neff and Rick Casillo in second and third respectively. At this point however, the real race favorites are lurking further back in the pack, biding their time. For instance, Iditarod legend Lance Mackey is currently running in 7th place, with Mitch Seavey in 16th and son Dallas in 22. Perennial runner-up, Aliy Zirkle is lurking in 27th, while Jeff King is all the way down the leaderboard in the 64th position.

Over the next week or so, I'll be watching the race as it unfolds and posting regular updates on the progress. At this stage, most of the racers are still jockeying for position, and many of these early leaders will fade away in the days ahead. Meanwhile, the eventual winner is probably in the middle of the pack at the moment, and will break out in the latter stages of the event.

Stay tuned for more news as the race unfolds. And to get a sense of the experience of the race, checkout the Google Street View website for the Iditarod as well. It has some fun and very interesting images that fans of the event will love.

2016 Iditarod Begins Tomorrow

One of my favorite annual events – the Iditarod – gets underway tomorrow in Anchorage, Alaska. The 1000 mile (1600 km) long dogsledding race is amongst the toughest in the world, with top mushers on hand to compete in one is arguably the most well known and iconic even the sport has to offer.

As usual, the ceremonial start will take place on the streets of Anchorage on Sunday morning, before the mushers and their teams of dogs move to the Campbell Airstrip for the official restart on Sunday. From there, they'll face hundreds of miles of challenging trail that stretches across the Alaskan wilderness all the way to Nome.

Last year, the lack of snow caused the restart to take place in Fairbanks, and the Iditarod trail wasn't in particularly good condition. This year, things are marginally better, with more snow out on the trail. It hasn't been a particularly snowy winter in Alaska, but race officials say that it is ready for the 85 dogsled teams that will set out tomorrow.

Of those competitors, there are obviously a few that stick out as the clear race favorites prior to the start. It would be tough to bet against three-time champ Dallas Seavey of course, but his father Mitch is still a tough competitor too. 2016 could be the year that Aliy Zirkle finally breaks through and gets a win, while Yukon Quest champ Hugh Neff, as well as Brent Sass and Jeff King always seem to be lurking near the front. Or perhaps someone else will break out of the pack and surprise us with a new winner being crowned.

Having just gone dogsledding for the first time while in Canada a few weeks back, I know have a bit more of an understanding of what these men and women go through out on the trail. There is a lot of nuance and skill for the mushers and their dogs, and covering a 1000 miles will take its toll on just about anyone. The Iditarod is as much of an endurance sport as it is a dogsledding event.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be posting regular updates from the race. As always, it should be interesting to watch events unfold. Stay tuned for more.

Canadian Adventures: Dogsledding and Wolf Encounters in Quebec

Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to travel to Quebec, Canada to experience some of the winter adventures that the province has to offer. More specifically, I visited the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, which is dominated by numerous lakes and rivers, not the least of which is its namesake body of water, which is a source for endless possibilities for outdoor activities, particularly during the summer. In my case however, I was looking for chances to explore the regions winter offerings, and I didn't come away disappointed.

Flying into Quebec City, I spent my first night in the area enjoying a fantastic meal and wandering through the streets. There is definitely a European vibe to the place, with the vast majority of the inhabitants speaking only French, and obvious inspirations to the local architecture. Coming from the U.S., this makes it feel like you've traveled a lot further than you actually have, which gives Quebec an unexpected allure. It is also why the local tourism board went with the motto " So Europe, So Close."

As much as I enjoyed my visit to Quebec City, my stay was a brief one. The next day I set out with a few other travelers for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area to begin my explorations. This area is much more rural and rustic, with English-speaking citizens few and far between. That isn't a bad thing at all of course, but if you're expecting a similar experience as you find in other parts of Canada, you may encounter some unexpected bumps along the way. 

We were headed to a remote area of the Saguenay region, but en route we made a couple of stops along the way. The first was in a quaint little town called Robertville, which has made a name for itself locally by creating an ice village on its frozen lake each year. The village includes a walking trail and skating route, as well as a rink to play hockey of course. This is Canada after all. There are also more than 180 small cabins that range from basic escapes from the cold conditions, to elaborate homes away from homes. The locals see the ice village as a way to socialize with friends and family, and over the years it has become quite the popular place with visitors too.

While the Robertville ice village was a nice distraction, our ultimate destination was a place called Adventuraid. There, we would spend the night in small cabins and yurts located in the forest while we waited to meet the site's most interesting inhabitants - three packs of wolves that are kept in very large enclosures that allow them to run free, while still coming in contact with humans on a regular basis.

The following day, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with these creatures when the owner of Advenuraid introduced us to one of his packs. The standard gray wolf and arctic wolf packs remain shy and wild around humans, so we didn't enter either of their enclosures. But one of the packs has been imprinted with humans from an early age, and as a result they are comfortable with visitors. 

Inside the pen, we were given the chance to interact with the wolves, which were very friendly, but still had a wild streak in them. Several of the younger wolves followed us around while we explored the interior of their enclosure, which included dense woods for them to retreat to should they feel the need. It was clear they were just as curious about us as we were them, although some of the older members of the pack remained reserved and at a safe distance. 

The imprinted pack was made up of both gray and arctic variety of wolves, and much of the time they behaved like their canine cousins that we keep at home. They were certainly playful – stealing the hat off one of my companions heads, and refusing to give it back – and highly curious too. They also chased one another around with boundless energy, while still displaying the pack mentality that is well established in the wild, complete with a pecking order and a clearly defined alpha member. 

For me, this was a fantastic opportunity to interact with creatures that I had only seen from afar in the past. I never thought that I'd have the chance to see a wolf this close, let alone pet one. For any animal lover, the experience is deeply moving, and will stay with you long after you've left. But be warned, if you go to Adventuraid to meet the wolves yourself, there are no guarantees that you'll have the same experience I had. If the wolves are shy that day, or aren't feeling particularly accommodating, they may not approach visitors at all. In fact, some never even get to go inside the enclosure, as the safety, health, and well-being of the wolves takes priority. 

If you do go however, staying onsite is the best options. The cabins are located near the pens, so you can observe the wolves in their habitats. I woke up on the morning of my visit, essentially rolled over in bed, and was able to watch them right from the window of the cabin. It was a great way to start the day to say the least. 

After our encounter with the wolves was over, we grabbed a hot meal before launching the second stage of our Adventuraid excursion. The company organizes dogsledding tours which can last for just a few hours or extend to four or five days. Sadly, we didn't have time for the longer style of trip, but we did manage to spend the afternoon exploring the thickly wooded backcountry with sled dogs. 

This was my first time dogsledding, so I was eager to give it a go. We used six-dog teams, and had two people to a sled, a drive and a passenger. After helping the Adventuraid staff collect the individual dogs for each of our teams, we harnessed them in, and were soon off and moving. The dogs were incredibly powerful, and knew the route well, so it was easy to soon find a rhythm, but the initial surge when the dogs first take off is a real kick, and it was fun to see just how much they enjoyed the outing too. 

Steering the sled took a bit of getting use to. The dogs pull it along nicely, but the drive still needs to lean into a turn when making a sharp change in direction. After about 15-20 minutes of mushing I started to get the hang of it quickly, but not before burying my sled in a meter of snow after taking a turn too sharply. It was a harsh lesson to try to get the sled out of the deep powder without losing it altogether as the dogs pulled on it to go. But after a couple of minutes of scrambling, we were back on the trail, and off and running once again. 

Our route took us through the forest and down on to a frozen river, which gave us the opportunity to let the dogs open up a bit. They ran with strength and confidence, while my companion on the sled and I simply enjoyed the ride. Soon, we were back in the woods, and heading for home, but not before navigating plenty more backcountry trails, some of which were narrow enough that the sled could barely pass through. 

My all-too-brief dogsledding adventure was over before I wanted it to be. But, it did provide me with some good experience that I'm sure will come in handy if I ever get the chance to do it again. It was definitely a fun, exhilarating experience, and I know have even more respect for top mushers. 

Late in the day we left Adventuraid behind, but my companions and I continued to talk about our experience there long after we had moved on. It was a place that provided some unique experiences to say the least, and I don't think we'll soon forget them. Both the wolves and the sled dogs were wonderful animals, each unique in their own way. If you're looking for a truly great destination to experience some amazing outdoor adventures, than you should put the place on your radar. You won't come away disappointed in any way. 

Next up, snowshoeing in the Valley of the Phantoms

Video: The Life of a World Champion Sled Dog Racer

Meet Sigrid Ekran, a two-time world champion sled dog racer. Sigrid has dedicated her life to her sport, so much so that she lives in the Norwegian wilderness without power or even running water in her cabin. This video gives us a glimpse of her daily life, which is dedicated to training with her dogs and enjoying the solitude that comes with mushing along remote trails. After this film was made, she went on to race for 1100 km (682 miles) over six days to capture her second world championship. Seeing how determined, driven, and experienced she is, it is easy to understand how she does so well.

Sigrid Ekran : The Dog Life of a World Champion - Klätterism_003 from Klättermusen on Vimeo.

Iditarod 2015: Podium Positions Set as Race Continues Across Alaska

I wanted to post one last update on the 2015 Iditarod sled dog race before moving on for another year. While the winner of the race has been crowned, and all of the podium positions are now set, there are still a number of mushers and their teams of dogs still out on the course. Some won't reach the finish line for several days yet, and conditions out on the trail remain very cold. "The Last Great Race" doesn't end when the first person crosses the finish line, and for those still racing it is a test of their skill and endurance. 

Yesterday morning Dallas Seavey claimed his third victory in the last four years, with his only loss coming in 2013 when his father Mitch won instead. The Seavey Iditarod dynasty is in full force this year once again, as yesterday Mitch finished second, reaching Nome nearly an hour and a half ahead of third place finisher Aaron Burmeister. Two ladies battled for fourth and fifth spots over the final couple of days, with Jessie Royer crossing the finish line almost three hours ahead of Aliy Zirkle. Since then, another 12 racers have arrived in Nome, leaving 51 teams to still arrive at the finish. 10 others who started in Anchorage have scratched along the way. 

At the moment, Cindy Abbott is running in last place out of the checkpoint at Kaltag. That leaves her with roughly 346 miles (556 km) yet to go before she is done. If she does manage to make it to Nome, she'll receive the traditional red lantern that goes to the final finisher. This is a badge of honor for having the strength and determination to see the race through to the end, no matter where you finish. 

As for the Seaveys, they're enjoying a much deserved and needed rest after a long race. But no doubt they're already thinking about next year, when they'll probably be battling it out at the top of the leaderboard once again. For Dallas, the sky is the limit in terms of the number of potential wins he could have for his career. The current record is five held by Rick Swenson, but surpassing that total now seems like a real possibility for a man who just turned 28 years old. 

For all of the talk about how this year's Iditarod was going to be easier and faster than year's past due to much of the course taking place on frozen rivers, it turned out to be just as difficult as ever. In order to finish – let alone win – this event, the mushers need to be highly focused, physically fit, and mentally prepared for the challenges of the trail. They also have to be in sync with their dogs, knowing when to let them run, and when it is time to rest. A 1000-mile (1600 km) dog sled race through the Alaskan backcountry is serious business, which is why this truly one of the most spectacular competitive events on the planet.

Congratulations once again to everyone who has already finished in Nome, and good luck to all of the other racers still out on the course.

Dallas Seavey Wins 2015 Iditarod

Dallas Seavey has claimed victory in the 2015 Iditarod sled dog race. The 28-year old defending-champ has become the first musher to reach Nome, arriving early this morning. He finishes the 979 mile (1575 km) race with a total time of 8 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes and 6 seconds. He also crushed the competition, claiming his second straight win in "The Last Great Race" and his third victory overall. 

In the latter stages of the race it became clear that Dallas had the strongest team of dogs out on the course. As his closest competitors slowed down as the neared the later checkpoints along the route, Seavey only seemed to get stronger. Over the last few stages he was breaking trail on fresh snow, but only widened his lead over those who were chasing him. In the ends, he crossed the finish line well ahead of the next closest musher.

As the race continues today, the battle will now be for second place. Dallas' father Mitch is currently holding that position, having left the White Mountain checkpoint just 34 minutes ahead of third place musher Aaron Burmeister. Jessie Royer and Aliy Zirkle are also out of White Mountain, and are currently holding down the fourth and fifth spots respectively. Unless something radical changes while they race today, that is likely to be their order of finish. 

For Dallas Seavey winning another Idiatrod puts him in rare company. Even his dad has just two wins in the race. Winning three times before the age of 30 puts Dallas in a position to set the bar very high for his career, perhaps even surpassing the record five victories of Rick Swenson. For claiming victory this morning, he was handed a check for $70,000 and the keys to a new pick-up truck as well. Not a bad prize for a little more than a week's work. 

While the winner of the race has been crowned, there is still a lot of racing to be done in this year's event. The next group of mushers will continue to trickle across the finish line throughout the day, but it will take several days for the race to wrap up, with competitors likely arriving well into the weekend. The final person to cross the finish line will receive the traditional red lantern that comes along with holding that position. 

Congratulations to Dallas on another impressive win, and good luck to all of the mushers still out on the course. Get home safely. 

Iditarod 2015: Dallas Seavey Takes Lead Out of Elim

The lead mushers are moving into the homestretch in the 2015 Iditarod, and there is a very familiar name at the top of the leaderboard at the moment. Yesterday, defending champion Dallas Seavey moved out in front and is now the clear favorite to finish first in Nome. But the race isn't over just yet, and the two-time winner will face stiff competition on the final legs to the finish line.

As of this writing, Dallas it the only musher out of the checkpoint at Elim, which is situated 123 miles (198 km) from the finish. He set off just 15 minutes before second place musher Aaron Burmeister arrived at that point. The only other competitors to reach Elim at this point are Dalla's dad – and 2013 champ – Mitch Seavey, and Jessie Royer who is now holding down the fourth position. Three-time runner-up Aliy Zirkle is in fifth place out of Koyuk, but is bearing down on the frontier town as well.

The winner of the race is expected to arrive in Nome sometime early Wednesday. Right now, the anticipation is building that the younger Seavey could claim his third victory in four years, although there is still a lot of racing to be done. Last year, four-time champ Jeff King looked like a lock to claim his fifth title, but just 25 miles (40 km) from the finish he was caught in a blizzard, got lost, and ultimately was forced to scratch. That opened the door for Dallas to nab his second title, but it is a good reminder that the race isn't over until the mushers and their dogs reach the finish.

Weather conditions on the trail remain very cold, but there is more snow in the latter stages of the race than there was at the beginning. That will help the teams run a bit faster, and seems to be favoring Dallas at the moment. He is currently posting the highest speeds of any of the top racers at the moment, which will make catching him all the more difficult.

It now appears that we should know the winner of the race by this time tomorrow. I'll post the news as soon as he or she crosses the finish line.