Overall, our expectations were very high for the Black Team. These twelve dogs were selected to try and win the Copper Basin for SP Kennel. The team did have great energy and speed. However, the front end experience was somewhat lacking. A team needs to be able to confidently pass many other dog teams during a competition with 46 other competitors. This team definitely needs more experience to shine in this area. Once we practice and gain confidence, this team will be fantastic.

The Black Team resting at the Sourdough Checkpoint.

Allen sat down after the race and chatted about his team and how each team member did.

Junior – my expectations for her were very high. She’s a great leader. She was just coming-out of heat which always adds a complication. She was in lead the first run and lots of boys were interested!! We had a few mishaps so I moved her to a different spot. After that she ran great until just after Meiers Lake Checkpoint. We where going down a hill where the trail was very fast and she must have stepped wrong because her bicep became slightly sore. I left her with the handlers at Sourdough Checkpoint. She was happily wagging her tails as she walked away with the Crew.

Chipper – has a great and appropriate name. We named her after a golf club but she’s such a spirited, little dog and she was always “chipper” throughout the race. She left the last checkpoint while jumping, bounding, and twirling. That dog has literally endless energy. I am very happy with her finish. She needs more experience and education in lead and could be a main leader.

Mismo – there were two dogs that I thought were superstars in this team and Mismo was one of them. He was in lead 90% of the race and I can see him doing very well on the Quest team. No matter where you put him in the team, he does well: lead, team or wheel. He just doesn’t really care where I put him, he wants to run. I’m very impressed with Mismo.

Tinder – a young dog. I very seldom bring two year olds to try to win the Copper Basin. But, Tinder was doing so well that we decided to give him a chance. He did well for 3/4 of the race. He may have stepped in hole or on some slick ice near the finish, because he slightly stretched his right leg. He never complained about his leg and was in the team until the finish line. We only noticed his leg the morning after the race. Tinder’s going to be a superstar.

Nelson – another one of the Biscuit pups with a whole lot of extra energy. It seems endless sometimes. He’s been on many of the main teams last year but he seems prone to get a sore wrist when the trails are hard packed. So his wrist started haunting us mid-way and we decided to drop him at the last checkpoint as a precaution. Without Nelson, we slowed down.

Kodiak – was a main leader in the race. But, whenever you have a leader who has never raced on a competitive team as the “main man”, then you need to have patience. He is one of the best dogs at the kennel and is one of the main reasons we finished as high as we did. Kodiak has never any quit in him and is always perky. More than likely, he will be one of the main leaders on the Quest team. That probably says it all.

Mismo, Kodiak and Allen take a nap in the straw.

Schmoe – one of the more mature dogs in the team. He has run all the big races in the past. He’s steady, he eats well, he knows what to do and always does it. You don’t have to worry about all the little things with Schmoe. He’s always working hard in the team. When it gets really, really tough and we’re going up steep hills, he’s always barking and he is able to pep up the team. He’s a great cheerleader to have.

Scooter – is similar to Schmoe and has been on the last three Copper Basin winning teams. She’s another happy, cheerleader. Whenever I stop, everyone close to us will hear that Scooter is ready and wants to GO! You can’t have too many cheerleaders on your team. Scooter’s a great dog that has finished in all the wins that I’ve had.

Outlaw – good, steady dog. He’s not as fast as the race pace was – the racecourse this year was faster than ever. He’s not used to traveling quite that fast. Outlaw is a fantastic 1000 mile dog and not a 300 mile sprint dog – which is what this CB win demanded. So, he got a little tired towards the end, especially when we were going down some hills pretty fast. I carried him in my sled the last 11 miles.

Commando – is definitely an up and coming superstar. He finished Iditarod with me at 17 months old and now at the age of 2 he finished the CB competitively. He never wanted to do anything but race. He always had drive and being this young in a race of this speed means a lot. I’m very proud of Commando. Good boy!

Clyde – Outlaw’s brother and they are similar. He has a little bit more drive and eats a little better. He has raced a lot of 1000 mile races, so he’s a very mature dog for his years and it showed in this race. He’s a little bit slower than the speeds we went. But, like his brother, he always had good drive and helped tremendously to come in 3rd place.

Felix – I thought he was the other superstar standout in this team. If I could have had a team of Mismos and Felixes… it would be a hard team to beat! Felix likes to go fast and lopes most of the time. He did an excellent job. Any musher would love to have Felix on their team.

18 Responses

  • Nice write up – very honest. Watching from the sidelines, waiting to see how the younger generation would do, I am reassured (and relieved) that the members of the Latino litter, and especially two, were stand outs. They are coming into their own. And, it looks like I wasn't imagining it when things noticeably slowed down with Nelson out of the mix. He must be one strong fella. It's also reassuring that Junior, Kodiak and Commando, the following generation, can begin to fill some very big shoes.

  • Great team effort in the face of challenges. Good to learn of the trail happenings & of each individual's strengths, for this race. Blistering speed!

  • Love the photo and thanks for the wrap on the Black teams performance and all the team members quirks , traits and strengths on the trail 🐾🐾 Denali 🐾🐾 and Joanne 🇦🇺 .

  • It sounds like there is so much "up and coming" potential with these dogs. Much to look forward to in the weeks ahead. You gotta love Mismos's attitude of just let me run, I don't care where…no complaining, just get the job done. That's a good example for us humans to follow. Also,that picture is awesome!

  • I always enjoy these Wrap Up posts…..and with the "changing of the guard" at SPK this year it seems we are all a bit more curious…..who will be up and coming, the next Rock Stars of SPK…inquiring fans want to know!! I love the fact you give everyone a chance to show their potential! The Black Team did fantastic in the race, and with pups like Mismo and Felix on the Team it can only get better! Way to go Black Team!! We are SO proud of you all!

  • Very informative wrap up. Thanks so much for the glimpse into the inner workings of the team. Congrats on a great race.

  • Thanks for the wrap up. I heard your interview and wondered who was done racing, Outlaw. I still would have to guess who led you to trees…..Kodiak?? With all the challenges Allen had to overcome the team did great.

    My guess on the picture:
    I think that picture was taken at Sourdough. I saw when Allen came in, had to get the team to a spot., got them settled down, fed, then took a nap, got moving, (I'm guessing put booties on, in picture), then the tracker showed Allen wasn't moving for 1/2 hour or so, must have laid down with Mismo and Kodiak. Then you got up and got ready to go again. Great shot! BTW

    All the armchair mushers out there….Think about a 6 hour rest stop…first hour to hour and a half maybe 2 hours – straw is put down, give dogs a snack while the musher prepares a good warm kibble high protein meal, take booties off, feed the dogs, massage dogs, make sure all the dogs needs are taken care of, THEN the musher gets to eat, settle down and sleep 2-3 hours, if that much, get up, maybe have something to eat to get you going, maybe give the dogs something to eat to get them going, put booties on, load up sled, get going. There is probably a lot more involved than this…order probably different….it just makes you appreciate what all is involved….the kind of athletes Allen and Aliy are. Of course the dogs are great athletes too.

    I'm an armchair analyzer these days…I was an athlete and was always very competitive…now I deal with my disability so I like breaking down and analyzing this keeps me busy..

    Thanks from Vermont.

  • First of all,
    I'm impressed you aren't all still in a coma at SPK, recovering from the race and lack of sleep.

    Awesome wrap up Allen…
    it's wonderful to hear how well some of the pups are doing.
    Maybe Izzy and Pepe can step up their game, and you'll have almost half a team of amazing Quito/Biscuit pups.
    Kudos to Mismo and Felix. Get well Tinder, Nelson and Junior!

    Happy training and
    Thank you SPK

  • Thank-you for the nice write-up on all of the dog's performances. I can sense your disappointment, but the new leaders must have learned so much on this race. I can hardly wait to see them at it again.

    Way to go Mr. Mismo and Mr. Felix!

    Thanks for giving your all in a great race and best wishes for the rest of the season.

    A Black Team member

  • Awesome race & wrap-up Allen. Thanks for the detailed report.It was a blistering pace, SPK times were fantastic, even though it wasn't first & second. Very proud of both mushers and all the dogs. Thanks for letting me be involved by sponsoring TINDER. Recover quickly, buddy. There is an Iditarod race to run!!

  • Thanks so much for all the details on how each dog ran. I simply don't know how you have the time to examine each dog so closely throughout all the race time. I guess that is why you are all champions!
    I can't wait for the Quest and the Iditarod this year. Show them your stuff, you are all amazing athletes. The future for SP Kennel couldn't look brighter.

  • Allen and Aliy – Congratulations on running a fast pace with a number of dogs with varying strengths and potentials – how you keep YOUR energy and good attitude up is an inspiration. The wrap up reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: "The best solution to a problem is to solve it." Everyone at SP Kennels seems to go about their daily tasks – at home or on the race course – with a calm, caring and analytical viewpoint towards the 4-leggeds in your care. You and Aliy are both living examples of happy humans with happy dogs…easier said than done under the pressure of racing. Keep up the good work and know that a lot of us out here are following, hoping for more. Thank you.

  • These wrap up posts always make me smile. I love reading about each individual's performance and their little quirks. It's so clear that Allen & Aliy are really striving to give the dogs the best opportunity to shine while practicing patience, providing them with a fun experience and still aiming to be highly competitive and win. I look forward to seeing all these great dogs names again in future wrap up posts that tell how they absolutely rocked down the trail and got it done. Great job to the 2 legged and 4 legged athletes.

  • All the youngsters need is a little more time and experience and how do they get that? By running races! You have every right to be proud of this team and the very creditable job they did. It's true that a 300 miler and a 1000 miler need different skills and behaviors. Seems to be looking good for YQ. Black Team go!!

  • This is wonderful. I appreciate you sharing how the crew is shaping up, hearing about their personalities on the trail.


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