Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Bio

Right to left, cut me some slack I'm a lefty; Lugnut, Caitlin, Me with an awesome pair of beaver mitts I won at the Alaska Excursions 120 made by Erin Redington, Iowa, and Lindsay.

    Just got back from an eight day six hundred plus mile training/camping trip.  One of the many Emails awaiting my return was from a gal working on my Iditarod bio.  She sent a list of questions, I'm not sure this is what she was looking for but I think it is as revealing as I'm currently willing to be,  and because I've now accepted the nakedness of FB I fiqured what the heck, why don't I just post my reply here for all to see, if anyones interested.  {sometimes feel like the character from the Toby Keith song the Critic, "ain't even sure anyones reading yo page,"

Hi connie,

    I'm 42 years old married and working on starting a family.  I moved to Alaska in 2005, and as I like to say I was born Alaskan in Massachusetts.  I started my kennel in 1986, and have been mushing ever since.  We currently own 80 sled dogs and one beagle.  We live in Cantwell AK, AKA Camelot, it is the most beautiful spot on the planet.

    This March will be my first of what I hope to be many Iditarods.  I've been hooked on the Iditarod all the way back to the Butcher Swenson days.  My wife and I decided about six years ago to seriously attempt to put together an Iditarod team.  We bought what we thought were some of the finest breeding stock and we've been raising puppies ever since.  We are very proud that all the dogs on our team were born and raised here at the Wolf's Den Kennel.

    I have run many many races over the years, and I've even managed to win a few.  However, what's interesting is when I look back at all of those races the ones that stick out in my mind as being memorable are not necessarily the ones where I've won or placed well. the races that I remember as being special are the ones where my team met or exceeded their maximum potential.   A  team that might not have the sheer talent to win, but comes together at the right time and performs to the best of it's inherent ability is a real pleasure to experience.  regardless of where you place.

    As for my past occupations, that is an easy one.  I've done almost everything you can imagine in order to cover the dog food bill.  When I think of it.  I'm pretty sure that what I've spent on dog food over the last 24 years would have covered a degree from every Ivy league institution on the planet.  But I would never trade the education I've acquired living with dogs for any other form of education.

    Why, is my favorite word in the english language.  So the question of WHY do I love the Iditarod really is a big part of the answer.  Every musher has a different reason for running the race, and each musher has people who help them and many people who support them, and the race itself has volunteers, pilots, vets, trail breakers, checkers, etc, Iditarod to me is much more then a two week odyssey .  It's a rich intricately woven tapestry each fiber of which is the myriad of answers to the question, "why" of every person who has ever been involved with race.  Why do all these people from all over the world, do what they do all year long in order to be involved.  Imagine what that story would be like?

    As for why I'm still crazy about sled dogs, I think that it's really because without a team of dogs in front of me I'm really not much at all, I'm not really athletic, I'm not really that competitive, and sometimes I can be a little lazy even.  However with a dog team, I'm able to achieve a state of grace which on my own would be impossible.

    The dogs I select are similar to the people I enjoy, and those are the ones with a certain fire in the belly if you know what I mean.  Great outlook on life, that sort of thing.  I need to enjoy their company and they need to enjoy my company three hundred and sixty five days a year.   
    The bond between musher and dog, might answer many of the questions you've asked.  Like the scariest moments, and what it is like to finish a race.  We've just got back from an eight day six hundred plus mile training/camping trip, and when a person spends that kind of time with a group of dogs an interesting phenomenon takes place which I call the, "bubble."  After three days it is no longer a person and a group of dogs.  A musher and a dog team become a single living breathing organism, that moves around in an invisible bubble, that isolates itself from the rest of the world.  This bubble is created by overcoming the many, "scary moments," and often it is disappointing when the bubble bursts, like at the end of a long race or a long training run. 

    The other interesting thing about scary moments, is that over the years, I've been gaffed with snow hooks, soaked in overflow, dragged, lost, and I've smashed into almost every type of obstacle imaginable, including my good friends pick up, but to be honest there has only been one instance when I've felt fear, and that is the one and only time I lost a team.  Otherwise with a team of huskies in front of me I feel ten feat tall and bullet proof.

    I hope this answers some of your questions, but as you might have guessed this is a subject I could gone forever about.  Sometimes even in my sleep, you can ask Caitlin if you don't believe it. 

Hope you're all having as much fun as I am, Lugnut and Mike


  1. Just so you know someone's "readin' your page" ... You were introduced to our afterschool study program in MA today. Thanks for the new info. Mrs. O

  2. I read your page....just wanted to let you know that Esse/Bessie (my brother started calling her that and it stuck) is leading already and doing a darn good job at it....never thought she'd be leading this early, but she kept running over the leader tugs and Mitch Seavey in his book said if you had a dog that did that then put that sucker in lead, so I did, and by golly she's doing a terrific job. Quite possibly my best leader.

    Thanks for the good dog! (bet you'll win Rookie of the Year).


  3. Just got home from the CB300 and this was the first thing that popped up in my newsreader - lucky for me! Terrific bit of writing, Mike, and some quotable quotes in there which I'll be passing on to my readers, like that part about the bubble... Nice!