I have carried a hand held video camera on the race for years now. Honestly, I don’t always think “Gez, this is gorgeous… I need to take a video!” But, I really did try to capture some amazing portions of the Iditarod Trail this year.
There are 13 videos in the ID: AliyCam 2016 Series.

After the trail sneaks over the top of Rainy Pass, it plunges downhill. As the trail comes off the summit and down into the creek, it is a roller coaster ride. I try to steer my sled — sometimes successfully and sometimes not — around pinball corners, over ice bridges and past rock faces all with the gorgeous Alaska Range on the horizon. Thick willow bushes often define the edges of the trail. That shows how much volunteer trail work has been put into the Iditarod over the years.

One of the reasons that I love our dogs not being secured by a leash to their collars (a “neck line” in mushing terminology) is evident in this video. Each dog can maneuver where ever they need to in order to avoid holes in the trail or run far out to the side, switching sides of the main tow line. As you can imagine, each dog has his or her own opinion of where they want to place their feet for the fastest, safest route. Now it might seem that all of the dogs aren’t “pulling their hearts out” all the time. You are correct. And I ask you: “During your 8, 10 or 12 hour work day how many of you are putting our 100% effort?”

Yea… that’s what I thought.

21 Responses

  • What an insightful question. I think about this all the time, especially during team sports. I love to watch these dogs run and wonder how you can see so far ahead to give them directions?

  • OMG. Thanks so much for this clip – you guys were flying down the hills!!!

    What a ride!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this thrill-a-minute trip with more to come in part 2 Rainy Pass, if I recall the trail from some years ago's video!!!

    SP Kennel Red Team ROCKS!!!

  • What a great view! Bet you were all loving the snow. And the "pee break" was a great cover. Love sharing the trail, post-race! Thank you

  • Re: 100% attention.

    Any game with a ball involved requires 100% attention. NOT APPLICABLE HERE.

    From my experience, "long distance" running is the kind of thing where your muscles take over and you can be thinking about other things…

  • Incredible!! I can see why the dogs can maneuver more easily without a neck line, especially in that terrain. At times they hug the central line and then others would go wide. Aliy, I bet you feel pretty beat-up after going through rough, twisting trail like that. Reminded me of the musher stories of the jumble ice on the YQ this year. You all are tough! Glad there was snow this year. Love the "how cute, a trail marker" comment.

  • Thank you so much for taking us along on your journey. 9:36 in… "Pee break". With all due respect and serious Aliy, could you enlighten us to how you handle the call of nature specially at -minus temps? Thanks this is a serious inquiry..

  • That is so much better than watching the GPS tracker!! I cannot imagine the skill, endurance, sense and courage this takes. A thousand thanks, great video.

  • Aliy it is amazing that you are so on top of it, after a day of racing, with very little sleep for you.

    This trail changes every year, and must be very exciting and challenging for the dogs. It was certainly exciting to watch you and your team navigate.

    …or 16 hours, my experience is most times that last 6 isn't worth 2!
    You run a very productive run rest schedule.

  • I love how the dogs go so quickly from Lopping to trotting..so amazing the adaptability!!

  • Thank you for sharing. I loved every second of it. It is because of you & your husband that I switched our dogs to the Howling Dog Alaska distance harness. One question that may seem dumb . . . I can't keep booties on for more than a few miles, what type are you using and how do they stay on so darn long??

    Again, thank you so much for sharing. Go Red! Go Black! ^o^

  • One comment I forgot to add ~ I loved your view, how cool would it be to have a wheel, team or lead dog view by wearing a video camera with the K9 chest straps??

  • Wow…that was FUN!! I was yelling "easy now, easy!" at the screen all the way down! My goodness!!!! The views of the mountain range are simply fantastic! The Team looks very confident charging down the trail….glad the leaders made the right choices and stayed on the trail instead of heading down a creek…phew! Good Dawgs…each and everyone of them!!! Aliy….you are one heck of a driver! Even though the camera is trained on the dogs, we know that sled isn't maneuvering itself down the trail….good job Aliy!!!

  • Oh the privilege of driving such a large team – these dogs have had so much training – it's obvious. Aliy and Allen – you must be so proud of this magnificent team of dogs. The training and miles behind you are obvious. And keeping the sled from hitting the wheel dogs….argh!!!
    I never used necklines after the first season or so of trying them. Not enough freedom of movement for the dogs. Of course not having necklines lends itself to other problems -freedom of movement lets the 'less focused' 4-leggeds turn around and harass whoever's behind them. Having leaders that 'stay tight' and keep the team stretched out is a blessing…and the result of a LOT of training miles.
    Aliy were you riding the break the whole way down? I had to catch my breath a few times. WHEW! The ride is a real treat – thank you for sharing – again.

  • Kodiak!! Good boy! I wondered if the dogs learn to recognize where trail markers are and ties up in the trees? Whoops, boink, on the side then thought about much bouncing on your bones and spine as you continue to stand. Whee over the ice bridge and stream on the right. Extreme concentration it seems at all times. Thanks for this segment, so nice to hear my boy's name called out 😉 and he is doing so well.

  • I am catching up! When I walk up and down mountains, it always feels like going up is not as steep as going down. But it seems to me going up Rainy Pass are that it is not as steep as the north side. I actually experience that across Broad Pass too, for that matter. Is that the case? If the race ran the other way, how would going up the north face affect your race schedule?

    And, it always seems to me the approach to Rainy Pass is broad, but I noticed going down, sometimes there was only room for the trail and not much else. That surprised me. Are my impressions of the south face compared to north face reasonably accurate?

    This is so much fun.

  • Whew what a ride! You have to be on top of it all the time, don't you Aliy? The team is just magnificent to watch, and how you continually encourage the team Magnificent scenery& so far good snow cover .Thanks so much.

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