I had the privilege of listening to John Baker speak a little bit ago, and loved his description of what he calls Team Baker. In the most humble manner imaginable, from a man who is not only the reigning Iditarod champ, but who has the distinction of having the fastest Iditarod finish ever, he referred to himself as simply the driver of Team Baker.
I think that all too often, at least in the eyes of the general public, dog mushing is viewed as a solitary endeavor, because unlike in NASCAR, rarely does anyone ever see our pit crews. As the 2012 sled dog racing season approaches, I thought it appropriate to introduce you to our crew.
Introducing our handlers this year. These are the guys who are in the trenches day after day, night after night, doing the million little things right that allow us to succeed.
From Topeka Kansas, Nicholas Guy, with his favorite dog Nestor.
From Jericho Vermont, Christian Taylor, with his favorite dog Edison.
Handlers are the unsung heroes of the dog mushing world, without whose help it would be impossible for us to do what we do. Maintaining a large kennel is in many ways very similar to other forms of farming in that it's a 365 day a year job, which requires a lot of man power. I rely on these guys, even if you don't see them often, just like a NASCAR driver depends on his pit crew. The world's fastest driver can only get out of the pit as quickly as his crew can change his tires and fuel his car.
As I begin to look at putting together a race schedule that makes sense for our team and our team's goals, there is another group of folks who are vital members of this team that I would like to thank. They are our sponsors. They are the folks who make it possible for us to purchase the mountain of stuff a dog team requires on a yearly basis. Their financial support of our team cannot be overstated, but I'm also proud to be associated with them all on a personal level. They are our extended family.
- Rick McMahan, and the boys that make fishing fun at Denali Fly Fishing Guides.
- James and Joy Wheeler, EMS K-9 Unit.
- Jayne Hempstead, Cantwell Veterinary Service for taking great care of our dogs.
- Frances Gray, dear friend and supporter.
- Kenny Dolenak, Josh Baltimore, and the gals in the office at Ringers Gloves
- Claude and Jennifer Bondy and the crew at Alpine Creek Lodge.
- Land officer James Smith and AHTNA Inc., our neighbors.
- Michelle Henderson Grainger Industrial Supply. Can't wait to take you mushing Michelle
- Mark Roberts, and the fellows from New Zealand for making the greatest dog food on the planet at K9 Natural.
- Scott Lee for making me feel at home at the Inlet Towers.
- Tom and EZ Farbo, long time friends and supporters. Love you.
- Maureen Regan, my Iditarod chef from Mighty Fine Kitchens.