Tales from the Trail: Mini Monica Update!

Monica and the boys are working on their December update, but here’s a quick check- in while they work!  The snow around her kennel has gone from bad to worse because it rained and so there is a layer of ice on top of everything.  So, to improvise, Monica and Tim packed up the dogs and headed north to Cantwell.  They participated in a sixty-two mile race at the Alpine Lodge this weekend. While they are waiting for the snow to improve at home, they are going to stay in Cantwell and mush along the Denali Highway where there is plenty of snow.  The race was Monica’s first time running a full sixteen dog team!  We are anxious to hear all about it and the Iditarod Rookie Meetings from last weekend.  We’ll share the updates with you as soon as we can!

Tales From the Trail: The Junior are Training Too!

The story goes that a group of five to seven kids started the Junior Iditarod because they were less then eighteen years old and therefore couldn’t compete in the main race.  The first race was held in 1978 and there were actually two divisions that year; a junior division for ages 11-14 and a senior division for ages 15-18.  Ever since that first race, there has been only one division for ages 14-17.  The first year the juniors ran a total of 36 miles while the seniors ran forty miles.  My students were especially interested to hear that the person with the most wins – three consecutive – is Tim Osmar!  They refer to him as Monica’s Tim (we have been following her training all year).  And that the red lantern that first year was won by a young woman named Barbara Ryan, whose married name is now Barbara Redington (daughter in law of the founder of the Iditarod Joe Redington, Sr.)! Their jaws just about dropped.

JR LogoWe wanted to get a little background information about the Junior Iditarod, so we used the Junior Iditarod official rules [2013 Rules] to compare the race to what we already know about the Iditarod.  In partners, they read the Junior Iditarod rules carefully and hightlighted everything they thought made the Junior race different than the main race.  We discussed their findings and summarized them on a chart.  They knew most of the answers to the questions about the Iditarod, but it was a good chance to clear up a few questions they still had.  I also had to fill in some of the missing blanks from other sources.

Blank Chart            Completed Chart

There were a few things that were still unclear about after reading the rules, so we consulted with two people in the know, Barbara Redington, who ran the first race, and Lacey Hart, who has completed the race and will be serving as Race Marshall this year.

From Redington and Hart we discovered that there really are two checkpoints in the race.  The kids will leave the starting line and in about fifty-five miles will reach Eagle Song Lodge.  This is a checkpoint where you can stop and drop dogs or speak to a veterinarian or race judge, if needed.  Most of the mushers won’t stop there for an extended period of time.  From there it’s about 20 miles to Yentna Station Roadhouse and the extended, mandatory rest stop.  They will also pass through Eagle Song again on the return trip.

Nicole at the Start of Her First Race!

Nicole at the Start of Her First Race!

We got the chance to interview Nicole Forto, the very first musher to sign up for the Junior Iditarod this year!  I tried to encourage the boys to find a new way to interview her… but our standard movie interview won out!  She sent us a great reply you can read below the video.

Nicole’s Response

You can learn more about Nicole and her family at Team Ineka here:  Team Ineka

We will be bringing you lots more news from the Junior Iditarod!  We have an interview set up with Lacey Hart to learn all about the job of a Race Marshall, and we’ll be checking in with Nicole monthly to see how things are going with her training!  Stay tuned!

Tales from the Trail: Monica’s Fall Training

Kasilof’s average November high temperature is 31⁰F.

Kasilof’s average November low temperature is 15⁰F.

Today in Kasilof, a high of 45⁰F is expected.

What does that mean for fall dog sled training?

According to our favorite Iditarod rookie, Monica Zappa, that means MUD!  Lots and lots of mud!

My students recently interviewed Monica about how her fall training is going.  She reports that they are really, really, really hoping for some snow soon!  They are still training on the four wheeler and the dogs and mushers are covered in mud and muck when they return from their daily training runs.  They are running the dogs about ten miles a run.  They are training about thirty-six dogs who have hopes of making the Iditarod team.  Monica reports that the dogs definitely know something big is happening…. they are all putting their best effort forward and giving their all to try to make the team!

You can read the whole interview here:  Monica’s Fall Training Interview

Enjoy this video that Monica sent of her fall training:

For more information about Monica and her kennel you can click here:  http://osmarracingandtours.com/

It turns out rookie mushers aren’t the only ones dealing with no snow!  Here’s an interview Martin Buser gave about how he’s handling the lack of snow:  http://www.wwlp.com/weather/us-wx-news/snow-shortage-hits-mushers

Let’s all do a HUGE Alaskan Snow Dance – FAST!