Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Kusko and the Tustemena

    Get ready mushing fans it's Kusko time  If there is one race which since I came to Alaska that has captivated me more then any other it is the Kusko.   As I posted on FB, I'm a little jealous of those who are there, and next year I'm determined to get The Wolf's Den team to Bethel.  Not only is the Kusko the premier mid distance race in the world, this year it's got one of the deepest fields it's had in years, and trail reports have been good.  Should be an exciting race.  I'll be glued to my laptop this weekend for sure.

    On a personal note, got one interesting Kusko related email and one phone call recently.  I sold a few dogs to John Simmon a couple of years back and John called the other night letting us know that Weasel has proven to be his star leader, "barking all the time."  He'll be running her up front in the Dash, as in Akiak.  Man that's a fast one!  The other two dogs he purchased, Trouble and Twister will be going with Jackie Larson in the 300.

    Dave Diehl, Richie's dad who I'm willing to bet is also his biggest fan, Emailed to let us know that Ajax who Richie bought from us has made the grade.  Dave's comments included the following, "his attitude is so positive, that he was added to the team."   Richie will be running the 300 hundred and It will be Ajax's racing debut.
    I think it's obvious who I'll be rooting for.  Go get em fellas!  I am also hoping that it's blatant that I have no qualms bragging about the dogs we've raised that are gettin'er done with other mushers.  It's truly one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

    As for our team, we'll get a chance to race on the following weekend at another world class venue.  The Tustemena 200  This will be our first visit to the T, and I awfully excited to finally get a chance to get down there.  I've heard nothing but stellar reports about this race for years, and I need to thank Jayne Heampstead for making our trip to the Kenai possible.

    There were doubts that the T would actually go off this year due to weather, but mother nature has again this year as she did last year blessed the T with a very timely dumping of the white stuff.  YIPPEEE!  And the T's race commitee needs to be commended for making the very smart decision to wave the late entry fee increase in order to get a bigger better field.  Many mushers where leery signing up with the bum weather reports, but now that they got snow the field is getting better every day.  Absolutely love smart decision makers.      

    The Tustemena will be full of firsts for us at The Den.  My first T, and it will also be the first time we've been able to field two teams.  Lindsay Seidenverg will running her first ever race and she'll be driving the B team as she refers to them, "she's gonna get in big trouble if she keeps calling them the B team,"  in the T 100.  Can't say enough about this young lady, she's got it all going on.
    "Mental note to self regarding the T," I recently saw that there is a Jonrowe team entered.  I'm really, really, really hoping it's Dee Dee driving.  Let's all keep our fingers crossed.  Two reasons why I'm psyched, one I just love Dee Dee.  Two it's a competitive thing.  I feel the need to further explain that one. I am by nature competitive only with myself, I'm the type of guy who is very self critical and am constantly striving to do what I do better then I did it before.  I have never, never, and I do mean it, thought to myself I want to beet so and so.  So what's the deal with Dee Dee?  Well, during the 09 Don Bowers 300, I pulled into the first check point well ahead of everyone else, We were really smokin that weekend.  Apparently Dee Dee must have had a good run at the Bowers the year before, because as I was signing in, all I heard from the folks standing around was, "only Dee Dee," "like Dee Dee," "Dee Dee this," "Dee Dee that," "Dee Dee," "Dee Dee," "Dee Dee."  Well, after taking care of my team, I took a short nap, readied the gang and left the first checkpoint.  The bummer is, a fella's got a lot of time to think with two hundred and twenty miles to go.  I was literally having the run of my life, It was all I could do to stop my team long enough to sign my name at the check points, and I was feeling great about the teams performance.  All of a sudden, I started wondering just how this whole darn thing would be unfolding if only Dee Dee was here.  Enough said.

    We'll be posting our take on the Kusko when it's over, as well as the Tustemena, until the next time I hope you are all having as much fun as I am, Mike

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