Iditarod Re-Start Moved to Fairbanks

Today brought the announcement that Iditarod would re-start in Fairbanks on March 6th (about 360 miles from Anchorage where the ceremonial start will happen on March 4th).  Typically, it would re-start in Willow about 70 miles from Anchorage on March 5th.  Here is the full article, if you are interested:  https://www.adn.com/outdoors-adventure/iditarod/2017/02/01/low-snow-in-rainy-pass-and-dalzell-gorge-could-mean-an-iditarod-restart-in-fairbanks/

As a one time veteran finisher of Iditarod, the trail would be partially new for me either way.  I'm a mix of emotions.... curious, excited, disappointed, nervous, etc.  We will make the best of this new trail, and are relieved to know Iditarod made a decision in the best interest of the safety of dogs, sleds and humans.   Ready or not, here we come!

 

 

 

 

IDITAROD 2016 SUPER SISSYHEAD (movie produced by Katherine Updegraff)

I have yet to come up with a profound statement in summary of this year's grand Iditarod adventure. The whole experience was so huge, so deep... it touched parts of my soul I had never experienced.   I felt a level of joy I never knew possible:  a summation of my years of time, emotion, energy and finances blossoming into a dream come true, as well as experiencing the overwhelming love and generosity of time, energy and financial support from my family, friends and race volunteers that made it possible and so much more enjoyable. It also resulted in a deepened bond with my dogs and an eye-opening new level of respect for my team who happily trotted along for 1000 miles on this crazy adventure.

A heart-felt thank you to ALL OF YOU who contributed to our success this past season!!!  

This movie, IDITAROD 2016 SUPER SISSYHEAD, was given to me by my sister this week.  It is simply perfect!  It celebrates the successful adventure, the dogs, our friends and family, the race volunteers and Alaska's beauty. I feel very grateful to have had the privilege to participate in THE LAST GREAT RACE (www.iditarod.com).   And, I am so thankful to my Sissyhead, one of our biggest fans, for compiling all these photos and creating this incredible movie.  Finally, I want to thank everyone who contributed photos to the movie.  Enjoy!!


thank you to our 2015-2016 sponsors (click on the words below):


Inquisitive Kids

It was very fun to come home to a pile of fan mail from students across the country.  As with our adult fans, the children have some really great questions.  I thought I'd share the questions and answers with all of you. Photos above by Katherine Updegraff, Kristie Lent and Evelyn.

1. What are some of your favorite things about Alaska?  The amazing, natural beauty and diverse wildlife (soon the sandhill cranes will return!).  Many unique and opportunities for work and play.  The special, talented and loving people scattered throughout the state.

2. Why did you start mushing and why do you love it?  I started mushing because I realized I loved the dogs and taking care of them.  In 1999, I was presented with the opportunity to care for a mentoring doctor's team of 16 dogs while he went on vacation with his wife for 2 weeks.  I enjoyed the experience so much I helped with his team for the next 5 years while they went on vacation.  He took me for a few short dog sled rides, but I never drove a sled for several more years.

3. What happened to the four dogs you "lost" in the race?  I assure you none of my dogs were "LOST" during the race.  They were looked after and cared for 24 hours a day.   Four of my dogs had small injuries or appeared tired at some point during the nearly 13 days I was racing, so I sent them home to rest and recover.   They were all happy to see me and feeling fantastic by the time I got home after the race. 

4. What year did Mama Libby have her puppies?  May 2011

5. Are the puppies going to be in the race this year? Libby and 4 of her puppies started the race with me: Miyuki, Zumi, Eewa and Yama

6. How long have you been mushing?  I consider my starting point of mushing when I spent a week with Bill Cotter in Nenana, Alaska doing a dog sledding intensive (dog mushing school).  I told Bill at the beginning of the week I was having a litter of sled dog puppies in May, and wanted to feel safe and competent hooking up a small dog team to start practicing.  Many people work as a dog handler for an experienced dog musher to learn how to train and race sled dogs.  However, because I had my physical therapy job with commitments to school district and local children for home-based therapy, I decided it was best for me to learn dog mushing at my pace on my schedule.   I learned an abundance of important information from Bill during that week, and worked up to an 8 dog team for 50 miles (following Bill and his team).  I was so exhausted after that first 50 mile run I had a hard time counting the correct number of bones (treats) to give to the dogs in our teams when we got home.  

After that week, Bill continued to be a valuable resource, as well as Ryan Redington, Jake Berkowitz and Jeff King.  Their patience in answering my questions has been invaluable to my learning curve.  I think of them often while on the trail, and am grateful for their guidance. 

7. What are the names of your new puppies?  I only have one puppy right now.  Her name is Lil Bear.  Barnum and Zig owned by Jeff King are her parents.  We have high hopes for her!  :)

8. What is your lead dog's name?   Felon is his name, and he is posing in the photo above with me.  This year I also borrowed four other lead dogs to help Felon: Falcon, Chew, Bahkita, and Bernadette.  Libby and Hunter also helped out.  1000 miles is a really long way for one dog to be in lead for the whole race. 

9. What are the names of the dogs on your Iditarod team?  There is a collage above that has a photo and name of all of the dogs that started Iditarod 2016.

10. What is in the large bags that you pick up at each checkpoint?  Those big, white bags are called "Drop Bags".  There is always dog food (kibble, meat snacks and fish snacks).  There is also a personal bag of snacks and drinks for the musher. I also put hand and toe warmers in my personal bag.  I often packed a ziplock with a dry Buff, drive gloves and a dry hat. Sometimes there is extra plastic for the bottom of the sled.  In the bags for Takotna, where I took my 24 hour rest, I sent blankets for the dogs. 

11. How are the dogs able to eat sooooo much in the race and not get sick?  The dogs are working very hard, and burn 10,000-12,000 calories per day.  They need to eat a lot of food to keep going.  Typically, they will only eat as much as they need.  The dogs do not eat all the food we ship out.  Extra is sent, in case we get held up unexpectedly.  The leftover food stays with the village to help feed their dogs. 

12. Don't you and the dogs get cold when you camp out away from checkpoints?  The dogs have the same comforts (straw and sometimes a blanket) if we camp at a checkpoint or on the trail.  The dogs snuggle up next to their partner in the straw and stay very warm. If you stick your hand under the dog while they are resting, you can feel the warmth.  I will admit I got cold sleeping on the trail.  We camped between checkpoints four times during this race.  One of those times we stayed at Old Woman's Cabin.  That was cozy because there was a wood stove.  The other three times I curled up in my parka and sleeping bag with bivy sack (waterproof cover for sleeping bag) to try to stay warm.   I use hand, toe and body warmers to help stay warm too. 

13. What's the hardest part about dog racing? The two hardest parts about dog racing for me are getting very little sleep during the race, as well as when my dogs get injured.  I bring a trailer with me so I can put the dogs in the trailer as soon as I see they are tired or hurt.  

14. What's the easiest part about dog racing? Spending time with my team on the trail.  I love it!

15. How do you get your dogs so fast? My dogs like to go fast, so I have to train them to run slower than they want to go.  If I let them run as fast as they wanted, they would wear themselves out, and hurt themselves.  I train them to run between 8 and 9 mph.

16. What keeps your food warm?  Do you keep a microwave in your sled?  I keep snacks in my sled like trail mix, Almond Joys, Paydays, Kind Bars and homemade goodies.  They taste good even when they are frozen.  The meals I take that are sealed in plastic get heated up in my cooker (that I make my dog water in), or in a microwave when I get to a checkpoint.  I do not have space to carry a microwave in my sled, and there isn't any power to plug it into.  

Our cooker makes heat with a fuel called HEET.  I light it on fire, and it heats up water very quickly.  The sealed food and bottles of drink can float around in the hot water to thaw out.  And then, I use the water to make the dogs' supper.

17. What happens when you crash? I might laugh and roll my eyes. I make sure the dogs and I are ok.  I check to make sure our sled is ok.  And, then I put my sled back on the runners and continue on.  Sometimes I have to empty snow out of my sled bag, or pick up something that might have fallen off/out of my sled (buckets, cooler, etc).  I try to attach everything that's really important to either the sled or my clothes.  

I had one big crash before I arrived in Rohn going down a very steep hill.  That time my big, red cooler that I keep thawed dog meat in fell off.  Fortunately, I was able to retrieve it, and re-attach it.  It's held on by 3 bungees.  It was a BIG, STEEP hill!  We slid on our side with the sled for looong way before I could get the dogs to slow down.  No one got hurt, but it was a wild ride! 

Another time, I crashed and 1/2 the white buckets I use to feed the dogs feel off.  I, unfortunately, didn't notice until I arrived at the next checkpoint.  A couple nice snow machiners on the trail behind me brought them to the checkpoint for me.  :)  After that, I attached them better.

18. How big is your sled?  I bet it's huge!  Good question!  I'll have to measure it, but for now, I attached some photos below for you to see.

19. Does the strongest dog go in the front or back?  I have strong dogs in the front and back of my team.  I put the dogs I feel aren't as tough or need a break in the middle of the team.

20. How many hours do you actually race?  From the time we leave the starting line in Willow, until we reach the burled arch in Nome, it is considered "racing".  I was racing for 12 days, 23 hours, 41 minutes and 54 seconds. 

21. What do you do during breaks?  When I stop the team on the trail or at a checkpoint, I take their tug lines off so they know they do not need to pull now.  I get them food and snacks.  I take their booties off.  I give them medicine.  I make them beds of straw.  I put their coats and/or blankets on.  I check to see if any of the dogs are sore.  I sort through my drop bags to see what I want to take with me.  I make a cooler of food for the next section of trail.  I find some food and beverages for myself.  I take a little nap (20 minutes to 3 hours).  And then, I wake up the dogs, feed them again and put their booties on.   Sometimes I move the dogs to different positions in the team.  I put their tug lines back on, and off we go.... 

22. What do you think is the most challenging part of the Iditarod?  It's a really long way.  Nearly two weeks on a dog sled.  Planning for the unexpected was a challenge this year. And, getting so little sleep.

23. How long do you train before the race?  The dogs continue running all summer for 3-5 miles several days per week.  At the end of August, we start training on a daily basis working up slowly from 5 mile to 85 mile runs.  We start on a four wheeler &/or truck, and then switch to a sled around early November.  

24. How many times do you feed your dogs during the race?  While on the trail, I stop to give them a snack &/or water at least every 1.5-1.75 hours.  If it's warm, I stop much more often for them to dip for snow and roll around in the snow to cool off.  When I get to a checkpoint, I feed them as soon as we arrive.  I also leave snacks in their beds of straw while they rest, in case they get hungry.  And then, I feed them again before we leave the checkpoint.  

25. When did you start racing?  I did my first qualifying race for Iditarod in January 2014.  It was the Knik 200.  The rest of my qualifiers were done in January 2015: Copper Basin 300, Kusko 300 and Northern Lights 300

26. How do you have fun with your dogs at home? on the trail?  My dogs love to have time out of the dog yard to run free.  I own 40 swampy acres, so we enjoy going for walks together.  I have taken up to 14 dogs out at the same time; however, I usually only take 4 or 5.  Some of my dogs really like to come in the house.  Some like to chew on bones, some like squeaky toys.  Some like to hunt mice and ermine.  Some are great snugglers.  Some like to be brushed (some hate it!). They all love to be pet. 

When we're racing, they still love to be talked to and petted.  And, they like to have their muscles rubbed.  I also sing to them while they're running.  It perks them up, and I think it often they start to trot a little faster.

27. How many dogs do you have? 

Twenty-five

28. Have you won at the race before?  

No, this was our first attempt at Iditarod.  Our goal was to finish in Nome with a happy and healthy dog team.

29. How old are your dogs?  

My dogs ages range between 10 months and 8 years

30. What makes you nervous about the race?

The unexpected weather conditions are what worries me the most.

31.  Who inspired you to run the Iditarod?

I worked in Skwentna at the checkpoint for the Iditarod for about 10 years.  During those years, I noticed the mushers were simply people, just like me.  Mushers were people who decided to dedicate their life to taking care of their dogs, learning how to drive the dogs, and training them to participate in a distance event.  All of the people who were choosing to race dogs inspired me to challenge myself to do something out of my comfort zone... run the Iditarod.

32. What was your strategy for this year?

As I was a rookie in the race, and my dogs were all inexperienced, we planned to run a very conservative race.  I trained my team to run <9 mph.  And, I planned to break all runs into <50 miles.  And then, rest as long as I ran (rounding up to the next hour).

 

 

Q&A (adult version): Insights into Iditarod 2016

IMG_4826.JPG

1. What's your overall feeling about the race? 

I am very proud of our team, and ecstatic to have arrived safely at our destination: Under the Burled Arch on Front Street, Nome, Alaska.

2. What was your least favorite part of the race?

The Burn.  We had a couple mishaps which found us off trail in a bunch of burnt trees, and then we managed to get the sled and trailer nose first into the edge of a giant hole.  I should have taken a photo.  Also, this section the dogs were on fire... possibly because of the buffalo smells/scat.  In combination with a large, wound up team, barren paths without snow and large hills (up and down), it was interesting.  Sometimes much more interesting than I would ever choose.

3. Do you have a desire to do it again?

There is talk of 2017.  Sign ups aren't until the end of June. 

4. Did the performance of any one dog stand out for you?

I am very pleased with how all of my dogs performed.  

Felon, my best leader, was totally into the race the whole time.  We leased leader support for this race from Dean Osmar, Will Matthews and Mark May.  I believe this support helped keep Felon at his prime performance level (he didn't have to run in lead for the whole race). Despite running in lead for the majority of the second half, in Safety, he was barking and pounding in his harness to continue on to Nome (while I quickly ran into the checkpoint to use the "indoor outhouse").

June finished her first race with our team, and had a fantastic attitude and appetite the whole race... despite her short little legs.

Mr Paws and Paunch are yearlings, and they blew me away.  They had a great attitude and ate well throughout the race.  And, neither had any type of soreness or paw issue.

5.  What place did you get out of how many mushers that crossed the finish line?

 We finished in 69th place of 71 mushers.  85 mushers initially started the race; however, 14 people scratched during the race. 

6. What are the names of the dogs on your team?  

Felon, Libby, June, Hunter, Eewa, Yama, Zumi, Miyuki, Bernadette, Bakhita, Chew, Falcon, Titan, Menace, Mr Paws and Paunch

7. Who made it to Nome?

Twelve of my team made it all the way to Nome!  Felon, Libby, June, Eewa, Zumi, Miyuki, Bernadette, Bahkita, Chew, Falcon, Mr. Paws and Paunch

8. How are the dropped dogs doing?  

All the dropped dogs are doing great!  I wrote up summary with more details on the "Inquisitive kids" blog post.

9. What was your favorite stretch of the trail? 

Because there was so much snow in the areas where the Happy River Steps and the Dalzell Gorge are, those sections were really fun!  Much like a snow chute.  I had originally been most afraid of those sections, so they were a pleasant surprise.  

10. What is the biggest thing you will do different next time?

Pack a lighter sled (and you can bet Jeff will be inspecting pre-race. lol)

11. How many times did you get to sleep on something resembling a bed indoors?

I remember sleeping on one bed with a real mattress, as well as in a tent in bunks that had foam pads.  Other than that, mostly we were sleeping on the floor.  Sometimes there were spare pads laying around.  Mostly, I just curled up on top of my jackets and passed out.  Thankfully, I'm a good sleeper! 

12. Who is your boyfriend? (guess who asked that question. lol!)

Jeff King.  Jeff was also an incredible mentor for the past two seasons.  Often during the race I recall thinking, "I learned this from Jeff" and "man, this would have been a lot harder if I had done Iditarod pre-Jeff".

13. Who were your other mentors?

Bill Cotter, Ryan Redington, Dario Martinez, Jake Berkowitz, Dean Osmar

14. Was there a time during the race you ever felt like you wanted to give up? And, if so, what made you get your focus back and continue?

Actually, I feel like I had a great attitude during this whole race.  I was thrilled to simply be there, and there were so many highlights, surprises and friends along the way.  I was sent off with so much love and support... and I forged ahead to my Skwentna Sweeties.  My arrival in Skwentna was a homecoming, and so much fun.  I repeated Jeff's mantra, "Calm, Assertive" as I navigated my way through the steps, the gorge and the burn... to celebrate in Nikolai.  Jeff had told me to do a cheer when I arrived in Nikolai in one piece.  A mom and her daughter, Marina, visited the team and I in Galena. Marina had all sorts of great questions. And, she sent me off with life savers and a homeade fruit roll. Very sweet! I was welcomed in McGrath by Pam Aviza who my dogs and I know well because she also lives at Bacon's Acres with her team.  One of the families I used to work with greeted me as well.  Very cool!   I hadn't seen them in many years.  Next focus was my 24+ hour rest in Takotna - awesome people, fantastic food, calm, quiet place to rest, beautiful spot... and a surprise box from Jeff.  And then, I focused on arriving in Nulato where I've worked for the past approximately 6 years.  The Special Education teacher I work with, Michele, was there to cheerfully greet me at 1:30 am.  And the boys I work with bundled up to send me off, as well as many of the other school employees I have gotten to know over the years (THANK YOU!).  I looked at the map in Kaltag and thought... jeez, we still have a long way to go.  I was relieved when Kim Franklin asked if I would like to run together as we forged ahead toward Nome.  That eased a lot of stress, and was wonderful companionship for the final 1/3 of the race.  Mary Helwig's parents were a fun surprise to find in Unalakleet and Elim giving out hugs and good wishes.  Also, Jeff surprised me in Koyuk.  That was fantastic, and a relief to see his smile as I hadn't gotten to talk to him since the snow machine incident his team was involved in.  Jeff gave me a little warning, but I also got a surprise visit from the "Bacon Bits" in White Mountain.  That was wonderful, and perfect timing!  The checker there says he doesn't remember ever having such a visit from friends at that checkpoint before (I'll post a photo below).  I'm a very lucky girl!!  After Kim and I managed to drag ourselves out of our sleeping bags the final morning, the stretch to Safety and Nome went relatively quickly.  I was eager to see all the people in Nome waiting my arrival!  :) ... some who had been waiting for days.

I mentioned above "perfect timing" when the Bacon Bits arrived in White Mountain.  There was a very windy section for about 5 miles outside of White Mountain that was eye-opening.  The dogs and I worked hard to keep the sled moving forward against the winds from the North. I still had my trailer on at the time, and realized how much of a sail it can be.   That was the scariest moment of the race, and it wasn't life-threatening, just eye-opening.  I dropped my trailer in White Mountain, in case we had to battle the wind all the way to Nome.  But, the "Bacon Bits" were a really fun distraction from the anticipation of wind that we may encounter on the next run.

There were lows on the race...  My good friend, Mary Helwig, and I had decided to run together through the Steps, Gorge and Burn.   We breezed through the Steps, and made it to the Happy River water crossing which we decided to help each other through.  Mary helped me get my team across, and I tied them off well.  And then we started working on her team.  Unfortunately, during the process, her dog, Ajax, got loose.  I knew from when they lived here at Bacon's Acres, he is a very shy dog.  Two snow machiners arrived, and were helping Mary.  My dogs were screaming to run, and chewing lines and trying to hump each other.  After it was apparent there wasn't much I could do to help in comparison to the two folks on snow machines, and it wouldn't be a quick process for Mary to get Ajax back in her team (she couldn't continue the race without him), I decided I needed to continue on.  I was worried and sad to leave her and her team.  I was very happy to still be in Rohn when we heard the good news that Ajax was caught and would be reunited with Mary.   

The hardest part of the race was arriving in Cripple and hearing the news about Jeff and Aily's teams.  I was heart-broken and very worried about them.  I was able to write a note to Jeff, that was transferred to an email by a race official and delivered to him when he arrived at his next checkpoint.  

Also, on the trail, I heard the news that Norma Dehlia passed away.  It was her home in Skwentna that I volunteered all those years, so I had gotten to know her very well.  I was happy she was still around to see the news of my homecoming with the team in Skwentna.  Norma, you will be missed.  Perhaps, you have joined the herd of guardian angels I have that manages to keep me safe on all my crazy adventures.

And, a note about my musher friends, new and old.  Connecting along the trail makes all the difference too.  I am grateful for all the kind words, the hugs, the help, the companionship.  You all helped make this a very positive adventure for my team and me.  

Mary, thank you for hanging in there... You did it!!!!  (I told her she wasn't allowed to scratch, as I needed her hugs at every checkpoint)  

I also want to say a special thank you to the all the volunteers/vets/race committee/community members/fans.  I believe you all gave your best to make us feel welcomed and supported.  I was very pleased to feel how supportive the race committee, checkpoint staff and vets continued to be even for those of us in the back of the pack.  Thank you for your extra time and attention! It was very obvious everyone wanted us to succeed. :)

We are excited to announce: IKIDAROD 2016

What: An afternoon of free dog sled rides for children with special needs presented by High Country Kennels, as well as Kristin Bacon, PT /  Bacon’s Acres’ Kennel

Where:  Downtown Anchorage at 10th and E St on the Park Strip

When:  March 2, 2016 from 12 pm to 5 pm (please choose a time block below)

 

    **Come out and meet the dogs/mushers of High Country Kennel

and

Iditarod 2016 rookie Kristin Bacon**

  T-shirts for the event are being donated by Big Dipper Clothing

 

SIGN-UP INFORMATION

Child’s / Children’s Name(s): ___________________________________     Age(s): ______  

Parent(s) Name(s): __________________________________________________________

Phone number: _____________________    Email: ________________________________

Special Adaptations/Concerns/Assistance Required: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Preferred time: 

12:00-12:15___      1:00-1:15 ___       2:00-2:15 ___     3:00-3:15 ___     4:00-4:15 ___

12:15-12:30___      1:15-1:30 ___       2:15-2:30 ___     3:15-3:30 ___     4:15-4:30___

12:30-12:45___      1:30-1:45 ___       2:30-2:45 ___     3:30-3:45 ___     4:30-4:45___

12:45–1:00 ___        1:45-2:00 ___      2:45-3:00 ___      3:45-4:00 ___     4:45-5:00___

 

·         If you would like to bring refreshments, be a sponsor or make a donation, please let us know

·        For further information, contact:  Kristin Bacon at 907-230-0402,  kidabilitypt@gmail.com, www.baconsacres.com  or fax: 1-888-505-7595

·        You can also check out Bob Sexton’s links at www.ikidarod.org and http://www.teamhck.com/

 

 

Embed Block
Add an embed URL or code. Learn more

Cheer on Bacon's Acres' Racers

We finally got this year's gear designs figured out!!  

Buy a t-shirt or hoodie to cheer on Bacon's Acres' race team for 2016!!

Here are the options:
1. 3 Dog Heads, full zip hoodie, small pocket image
2. Diva Design, hoodie or t-shirt, turquoise...
3. Black Eyes on Iditarod: hoodie or t-shirt, black

Hoodie & Full-Zip Hoodie: $35
T-shirt: $20
Shipping: $5

If you are interested in purchasing gear, please include design selection, size, hoodie vs t-shirt, payment and contact information.

Payment options:
* Paypal to baconsacres@mtaonline.net
* Check to:
Kristin Bacon
PO Box 521504
Big Lake, AK 99652

**Important: the main order is going in at the end of the week, so please let me know as soon as possible, if you are interested.**

Lil Bit, Lil Bit....

The wise one: Miyuki

How far we've come, but OH HOW OFTEN Miyuki (one of my most spoiled dogs), reminds me "lil bit, lil bit".  The glossy image of this life can be seen as "Living The Dream", but some days it is simply overwhelming.  People often ask, "How do you do it all?"  (work, care for dogs, train the dogs, have a boyfriend in Denali, maintain relationships with friends & family, keep an off the grid property functioning, travel, etc).  Well, some days aren't pretty.  Thank goodness for ALL THE PEOPLE in my life that are excited with me about this dream.  And, thank goodness for all the support (love, donations of dog and people food, financial donations, patience, physical assistance, a listening ear, help making decisions, etc) I get on a daily basis.  Some days fly by filled with overwhelming pride, excitement and accomplishment.  Some days, like last night, I go to bed saying "tomorrow is a new day".  I am very grateful for the opportunity to have such an amazing team of dogs accompanying me on this journey.  And, I'm grateful to have so many fantastic people cheering me on. 

Here are some gorgeous fall photos my sister took of the dogs from a training run in Big Lake this past weekend.  As well as increasing mileage, we were giving various dogs an opportunity to run in lead.  As with daily life, some of the run was simply amazing... and other parts required straightening ourselves back out, recomposing ourselves and continuing on. 

www.katherinejoyphotography.com

It's Official!

Turning in my stack of paperwork, including my application&nbsp;and entrance fee at Iditarod Headquarters. &nbsp;A caramel&nbsp;Americano in hand&nbsp;to calm my nerves.

Turning in my stack of paperwork, including my application and entrance fee at Iditarod Headquarters.  A caramel Americano in hand to calm my nerves.

We did it.  We are officially signed up for Iditarod 2016!  We are very excited and proud to have made it this far; however,  the experience didn't occur without big eyes, moments of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed.  Why is taking one step closer to a dream such a mix of emotions?  Deep breathes!

Thank you, Racerconnect.com, for paying our entrance fee!!  And, thank you to my fan club for attending the sign-up picnic with me (Jeff, Sissyhead, Elisha, J&J and Queen Sweetie CY), as well as those of you cheering us on through texts, emails and Facebook!  Your support and positive energy help keep us moving forward.

 

 

Iditarod 2016 Sign Up and Volunteer Picnic

Since 2005 when I volunteered the first time at the Skwentna Checkpoint for the Iditarod, I have attended this annual summertime celebration at the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla to watch mushers sign up for next March's race.  However, this year is VERY DIFFERENT!  On June 27th, two weeks from today, I will be signing up our team to participate in Iditarod 2016.  It's finally our turn!!

There will be eight more months of anticipation., and eight more months of preparation and planning for our rookie race to Nome.  On March 5, 2016, we'll be at the starting line in Anchorage for the ceremonial start.  

A couple days ago when Jeff mentioned "Iditarod Rookie Reference Sheet", I realized my vision of simply "signing up" at the picnic was based on my previous observations of the event. In past years, I watched mushers walk up to a table of Iditarod officials and volunteers, "sign up", and then walk away celebrating their entry into next year's race.  

I decided I should check out Iditarod.com's "Musher" information section: http://iditarod.com/resources/mushers/.     Of course, signing up for a 1000 mile race isn't that simple.

My eyes widened as I began printing out all the required forms:  Rookie Reference Sheet signed by a seasoned Iditarod finisher; Application with biography, mushing history, photograph, etc; Liability Release; Anchorage and Nome Housing Request Forms; List of Sponsors; Musher Membership Form; Banquet Ticket Form for March's start banquet; Dog Care Agreement for vet care during the race; Two Local Contact Forms for Dropped Dogs; Iditarod Trail Questionnaire;  previously completed Musher Assessment Form/"Report Card" for 3 qualifying races totaling 750 miles... oh, and a $3000 entry fee.  Whoa!  

Guess we better get busy.  In the next two weeks, we'll be filling out all of our forms, and starting to search for sponsors to join our team.  If you have questions, or are interested in providing sponsorship to help Bacon's Acres Racing prepare and participate in Iditarod 2016, please contact me: Kristin Bacon at  baconsacres@mtaonline.net

 

 

 

T-Shirt Design Contest

Update June 6, 2015:  DESIGN CONTEST FINALISTS -- What is your favorite image?

With all this Iditarod excitement, we decided it would be a great time to kick off our first attempt at a t-shirt design contest.  Here are the details:

... and the deadline is now April 15th  :)

"Whatever we accomplish belongs to our entire group, a tribute to our combined effort" Walt Disney

I want to take a minute to express my gratitude to all the people who have helped us get to this place:  qualified to run Iditarod 2016

We achieved this major step toward our goal thanks to a combined effort of many.  It is through this vital collaboration of efforts that our dreams are coming true.   Our sponsors, fans and supporters who have contributed mentorship, financial support, canine power, donations of dog food/people food/gear, personal talents, time and unwavering support of our dream, have made this milestone possible.

A heartfelt thank you for being an integral part of Team Bacon's Acres:  Spectrum Medical Billing Services, Kent Waite of Gotta Wanna Expeditions, Goal Zero, Katherine Updegraff (Sissyhead), Mom and Dad, Laurie Swales Parker, Ryan Redington and family, Jeff King and the Husky Homestead crew, Heather Resz and Julie Metcalf, Bill Cotter, Mary Duhoux, Susan Green and Terry Legg, Bonnie Brummett, Dogbooties.com, Eva and the Anchorage King family, Jen and Todd Rinaldi, Janet and the Johnson family, Mari Troshynski, Dwight and Heather, Lynn Rees and family, Geri Bartley-Shangin and family, Mary Helwig, Lisbet Skogen Norris, Val Jokela, Dean Osmar, Ann Newman, Aunt Suzanne and family, The Holman family, Cyndy Fritts, Norma Delia, Keegan, Stephen and Skwentna Sweeties, Markus Ingebretsen, Lisa Sewell and Rick Carlisle, Kristen and Ben Henney, Corinne Smyth and family, Hannah Langlie and family, Mary Anne and Nancy Bishop, Alyeska Therapy Center in Wasilla, Rusty and Pam Burlingame, Suvuth Chhin, Ali Martinez, Jen Camilli and Robbie Landmesser, Kim and the Welch family, Carrie Smith Gray and family,  Julie Kelly, Jeana and Jeff Spindle, Cindy Schaser, The Soverns, The Spiropoulos family, Maisie Dean and family, Holly Machuzak, Ken and Ingrid, Terry and Mike Morganson, Karen and Kent Williams, Kim and Bernadette, Greg Parvin, Sue Allen, Roger and Myra Phillips, Julie St. Louis, Melinda Cline and family, June Tagaki, Amy and the Spieth family, Larry Zarella, Leslie Thompson, The Klem family in Bethel, The Klejka family in Bethel, The folks at Alpine Creek Lodge, Pat Bouska, Kris Mechals.... all race officials, volunteers, checkpoint locations, vets and photographers... as well as my TRICKY

I apologize if I forgot anyone. All of your support and contributions are very important to us.

 

 

Three Weeks, Three Races and 900 Miles Later

Finally, a still and quiet evening...  a moment to relish in the fact that we DID IT!  We are finally qualified for Iditarod 2016!!  :) 

More than 10 years ago, the words "I want to run the Iditarod some day" escaped out of my mouth after an Eric Bibb concert.  I had just listened to the the song, THE CAPE.  It is a song about courage and following your dreams.  At that point, I truly had no idea what the words "I want to run the Iditarod" meant, as I had never even been on a dog sled.  I had house sat for a sled dog kennel, watched the Iditarod start and volunteered at the Skwentna Iditarod Checkpoint as a Sweetie.   Despite my lack of experience and knowledge about sled dogs, racing, or owning a kennel, there was a persistent tugging at my heart.   I tried to convince myself for many years that I did not need to run the Iditarod.   I didn't know much, but I knew if I decided to get into mushing my life would change dramatically.  In 2010, my choices began to lead me in that direction and slowly, over the past four years, that hazy dream started to evolve into reality.  And, the clarity of the immensity of the challenge of obtaining that dream began to emerge.

One of the best pieces of advice I received in the past few years was "get off the timeline".  I originally hoped to run Iditarod in 2014, and then in 2015, but weather cancelled 3/5 qualifying races I signed up for in 2013 and 2014.  It was discouraging and very disappointing after training as best we could September through December/January.  However, with the added years of practice, the team matured and my depth of knowledge and experience continued to grow. This season, I was determined to complete the two 300-mile races I still needed to qualify for Iditarod 2016.  Just in case one got cancelled, I decided to sign up for three.... 3x300 miles races in 3 weekends.  I never imagined all three would actually happen.  And, I'm not sure I intended to run all three, if they did happen.  However, they did happen, and we completed all three smiling and with tails wagging.  We are very grateful for the extra dog power from Husky Homestead and a lot of help from our biggest fans.

With a great deal of patience, perseverance, hard work and a deep love for the dogs, the next step toward our goal happened when our team was ready... and next year at this time, we'll be prepping drop bags for Iditarod 2016!!  

Here's a video my Sissyhead made of the final seconds before I completed my last qualifying race, the Northern Lights 300.  A very proud moment!!   http://youtu.be/RbtlgcpK5DM

THANK YOU FOR CHEERING US ON!!!! :)

Copper Basin Preparations

January 10th - Copper Basin 300 starting in GlennAllen, Alaska at 10 a.m.

(http://www.cb300.com/)

Today, Tricky and I will head to Anchorage to pick up part of my handling crew for the Copper Basin:  Laurie from New York!  HOORAY!  She will stay with us and handle for the Copper Basin, Kusko and Northern Lights.  We will be so spoiled!

Mari, our kennel handler, has been of immense assistance helping us get packed up for all the races.  We have been working on preparing drop bags which contain dog kibble, dog meat/fat (snacks), musher meals and snacks, extra gear, sorted and wrapped booties, fuel for the dog food cooker, hand/toe warmers, drinks, etc.   The ones for the Copper Basin are now loaded up in the dog truck.  That's a relief!  Dog coats, a new gangline, extra dry gear, extra sled plastic, etc is also prepped and ready.  

Tomorrow, we will do a final test run of the 12 dogs that I plan to run in the Copper Basin: Felon, Stormy, Eewa, June, Yama, Yoshi-No-Mi, Zumi, Taki and Mimi, as well as Suspect, Kroner and Norton from Husky Homestead.  

Kaze, Charlie, Roosevelt and Willow will be running with Mary Helwig of Bravo Kennel in the Copper Basin 300. Mary lived here at Bacon's Acres with her team last year, so my dogs know her team well.

Libby and Hunter have very minor injuries and will likely be joining us for the Northern Lights 300.  Rascal and Canyon have been training with the race team up to this point; however, I have decided it's in their best interest to stay home. 

On Friday morning, we will meet up with good friends of mine, Dwight and Heather (the rest of my CB300 handling crew) and drive to GlennAllen.  We will deliver our food drops, do our required vet check, attend a pre-race meeting and get organized for Saturday morning.

Wish us luck -- this is our first 300 mile race! 

A BIG month ahead!!

Heading to Alpine Creek Lodge. &nbsp;&nbsp;Can you see the snow flying off Jeff's brake in front of my team?! &nbsp;

Heading to Alpine Creek Lodge.   Can you see the snow flying off Jeff's brake in front of my team?!  

This past Saturday night, we returned from our final major training run in preparation for our upcoming stint of 3 x 300 mile races this month.  

Because our trails in Big Lake were closed down due to warm weather and rain, we packed up for another adventure on the Denali Highway.  We met Jeff, 21 of his dogs and his handler, Kevin, who manned the jeep support.  

I brought 17 dogs (14 from Bacon's Acres and 3 from Husky Homestead) to help make my final decisions about which dogs will run with me for the Copper Basin 300.  It was a WILD start, as they were VERY excited... and there were 17 of them!  I had never run 17 dogs on a sled.  It's a lot of power!!  Despite the road looking like it was well snow-packed, it wasn't for the first couple miles.  Even though I was using my foot brake and my other foot on top of my snow hook on the road's surface (maybe not the best idea, but it's the best I could think of at the moment), we were a freight train moving full speed ahead.  After a few glitches, both teams continued on to make a safe arrival at Alpine Creek Lodge (http://alpinecreeklodge.com/) approximately 64 miles later.  It's always a warm welcome there... water for the dogs, tasty food and coffee for humans, cheerful greetings and a comfy bed.  The dogs get bedded down outside in piles of straw after they have their supper.  These "camp outs" have been great practice for my dogs in preparation for resting and eating during races, and helpful practice for me packing up my gear and caring for dogs outside our normal kennel routine.   

This time when we were at Alpine Creek Lodge, they was hosting the GinGin 200 checkpoint, so the dogs and I got more experience interacting with other teams as we will do during our races.  Also, we had many head on passes on our way back to the dog truck.  All went well, thankfully.

I felt the symbolism of the freight train was right on for what I'm stepping into this month:
January 10th - Copper Basin 300 starting in GlennAllen (http://www.cb300.com/)

January 16th - Kuskokwim 300 (http://www.k300.org/wordpress/)

January 23 - Northern Lights 300 (http://northernlights300.org/)

We should have trackers on for all three races.  Check out the websites and cheer us on!  We appreciate all your support!! :)

p.s. there are very few pictures from this trip because I was too focused on holding on, as well as keeping my fingers warm.  

Running under the full moon... simply beautiful!

Running under the full moon... simply beautiful!

These are the dogs that went on last weekend's training run. &nbsp;I'm LOVING my new board Mari made me for my birthday! &nbsp;:) &nbsp;  The three dogs joining us from Husky Homestead (&nbsp;http://www.huskyhomestead.com/ ) are Suspect, Norton and Kroner.

These are the dogs that went on last weekend's training run.  I'm LOVING my new board Mari made me for my birthday!  :)  

The three dogs joining us from Husky Homestead ( http://www.huskyhomestead.com/ ) are Suspect, Norton and Kroner.

Summer update from Bacon's Acres'

A beautiful scene from a camping trip in the Norwegian mountains near Røros.

A beautiful scene from a camping trip in the Norwegian mountains near Røros.

It's time for a late July update from all us here at Bacon's Acres' Kennel. We've had a warm summer so far here in Big Lake, the dog yard is nice and green and the dogs are stretching out in the warm summer weather. 

Our puppies are growing at a rapid pace, and they're now going on long walks several times a day. Running through high grass and climbing up big mountains. Learning to listen to commands, and wait (not so) patiently for the "go" command, before running out of the puppy pen. It's impossible not to be walking smiling from ear to ear when being with these puppies. I am so excited for the winter to come, and being able to start to harness breaking these amazing athletes. 

A sunny morning looking out towards the dog yard at Punch Bowl glacier.

A sunny morning looking out towards the dog yard at Punch Bowl glacier.

I (Markus) have been busy sharing my love for the dogs with lots of lovely tourists this summer, working up on the Punch Bowl Glacier doing dog sled rides, and talking about the history of the sled dogs and Iditarod. It is always very giving to share this sport with new and interested people. Kristin has been puppy trainer number 1 this summer, doing an amazing job with our up and coming stars.

The rain is pouring down outside the window here at the kennel today. There's a small fire going in the wood stove, and hot coffee in my mug. Should be a good day to put together some dog houses in the barn. On a day like this, it's easy to look forward to some colder temps. Winter is coming and I am very excited about it. No better way to start the day than with a cup of coffee and look at some photos from past camping trips on the runners.

Our goal for the next winter is to have Kristin qualify for the Iditarod. To do that, she needs to finish 2 races of 300 miles. I am planning to focus on the puppies this winter, and hopefully be able to go on some camping trips in the spring with them. I believe there is no better way to train the dogs, and get a good connection with them.

Another old photo I dug out. This one is taken as I'm returning from a long training run in Norway, around Christmas time.

Another old photo I dug out. This one is taken as I'm returning from a long training run in Norway, around Christmas time.

The Norwegian litter has names

A painting of the men at Eidsvoll in 1814.

A painting of the men at Eidsvoll in 1814.

The Dancer x Bomber litter was born on 17th of May, Norway's constitution day and 200 year anniversary of the constitution. Obviously these cute puppies would have a Norwegian theme. All the boys are named after men that were present at Eidsvoll in 1814, creating the constitution. With a lack of women present in 1814, we decided to name the one girl of the litter after Gro Harlem Bruntland. Gro was the first female prime minister of Norway, and served in 3 terms, she was the leader of AP (The Labour Party).

Read more about Gro here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gro_Harlem_Brundtland

Read more about the men at Eidsvoll in 1814 here: http://www.eidsvoll1814.no/default.aspx?aid=9061021



Puppy love and kennel visitors

All of Norway celebrated the arrival of 7 healthy puppies from Dancer x Bomber on the 17th of May.

All of Norway celebrated the arrival of 7 healthy puppies from Dancer x Bomber on the 17th of May.

Our second litter of puppies have now arrived. The Dancer x Bomber puppies arrived on 17th of May, Norway's constitution day, so don't be surprised if all those puppies get Norwegian names. We got another litter of 7 healthy puppies, this time 6 males, and only 1 female. 

Kennel visitors

The dogs had a fun morning today, as we got a fun visit from Melinda and her kids. All the puppies got lots of love and snuggling, so much so that the big dogs got pretty jealous and demanded that we come into the big dog yard and give them some loving too. Enough said, enjoy the photos!


Puppies have arrived!

Waiting for puppies can sometimes be a very tedious business. Is she pregnant, or is she not pregnant? When will they come? How many? Will all be healthy, and what will they look like?

Momma Digger

Momma Digger

Papa Felon

Papa Felon

It was with much joy we could see Digger finally settling into her whelping house this Wednsday, ready to give us some beautiful little puppies. One by one they popped out, all looking like our house dog Tricky, black and white. He did get the evil eye for a little bit, but he was quick at defending himself saying that he has no balls anymore, so he's off the hook for that one. The actual father is Felon, our best lead dog, out of Berkeley and Solomon. Digger is Dean Osmar's best lead dog, and we will split this litter with Dean. We are super excited to watch these cuties grow up to be big and strong sled dogs!

In total we had 7, 3 males and 4 females. 6 black, and 1 grey.

We are still waiting on another litter, should be born any moment now. We will update as soon as they are born!