While the final stages of the Quest were playing out, the Iditarod food drop bags were due. Although the race was nearly three weeks away at that time, it is a huge logistical exercise to get them all to the desired checkpoint via the Iditarod Airforce and an army of volunteers.

It is very often said that “it takes a village” to run all aspects of this kennel. Iditarod drop bags takes that to the extreme!

Clothing, dog coats, equipment sorted checkpoint by checkpoint

Here’s a few of the tasks:

  • Cutting 40-50lb blocks of poultry skins and beef, and whole salmon into snack size portions.
  • Bagging said snacks into ziplocks in batches of 16
  • Packing booties for down the trail – at this early stage we do not know the make up of the teams so we pack to cover a whole range of sizes for dogs that might make the team
  • Bagging two different types of kibble into meal size packs
  • Rolling and packing fat balls – this is pure fat that the dogs LOVE if it is cold
  • Assembling vet packs to distribute down the trail. These include vet wrap, massage oil, foot ointment and athletic tape among other things. Our mushers will use these packs to replenish the supplies they carry with them
  • Cooking and bagging human snacks and meals. Allen takes bacon, banana oatmeal bars and nuts as snacks plus vacuum sealed meals of chicken pesto (right), moose and sweet potato lasagne and meatballs with tomato or alfredo sauce. We also include a few unexpected treats to surprise him along the trail. Aliy takes various energy bars (thanks Clair), chicken pesto meals and other snacks. We pack freeze dried packet meals for camping stops where a microwave or oven are not available.
  • Assembling hand and foot warmer packs that include hand wipes and tissues
  • Counting dog coats and blankets to send to checkpoints. Aliy and Allen will also be carrying coats with them and can use these ones to replace the ones that have that might get damp or if they need heavier fleece coats or lighter wind jackets.
  • Throw in spare harnesses, equipment, gloves, socks, hats and neck gators and there you have it!

Mushers must send a minimum of 50lb of food and equipment out to each checkpoint. This year Aliy shipped 1471lb and Allen 1467lb. Allen is expected to take longer to complete the race with youngsters and therefore will need more dog food while Aliy included more options for her mandatory 24 and 8 hour lay-overs hence the shipments were almost exactly the same weight.

All the dog food and snacks laid out (Scout does a quick check on his way past)

Wendy, Andy and Clara; Shelia and Scout measure kibble

A special thanks to everyone who contributed: Wendy, Chris, Ruth, Padee, Tami, Mykenna, Madi, Brian, Clair, Sheila, Andy, Clara, Lynne, Tom and Cindy. Also thanks to all the Red Team and Black Team members – we use some of the proceeds of our Join The Team program to fund our drop bags.

Mykena, Tami and Madi

Stacking the pallets with bags ready for shipment to checkpoints

Thank you to all the Iditarod volunteers for their hard work once we gave them our near 3000lb of food and equipment.

9 Responses


    Thanks so very much for this inside view of kennel project #1 right now!!!

    Great to know "Join the Team" program funds drop bags!!! Most appropriate!!!

    And what an awesome team of volunteers!!!

    Thanks so much!!!

    Scout must have been terrific doing quality control!!!


    P.S. WOOF!!!

  • Once the teams are "officially" on their way toward Nome, and Allen can't see the Dog Log, why don't you tell us what the surprise snacks are!

    Also, when you can, how about an update on Aliy's foot surgery from last summer?

    Thank you SP Kennel crew. You are ALL awesome!

  • That is amazing and it takes a lot of organization to get everything together. You all had lots of great volunteers assisting with all the details. I think I see the blankets I sent. 😉 Sure hope they come in handy for the dogs. Thanks for sharing the story of packing for the Iditarod. SP Kennel rocks!

  • If it weren't so far from Erie, PA I would be there in a heartbeat to help! Glad to know PA was represented by T&C, though!

  • WOW! I forget from year to year how much is involved in just getting to the start of each race, especially the 1000 mile races. There is so much going on this time of year for SPK and it all happens within a short period of time. Wish I could be there to help. Kudos to all those that help make this happen. I'm glad Scout was there to lend a hand. I'm sure you couldn't have done it without him.

  • That is an insane amount of prep and organization!! My goodness…..glad you have help!! Seriously, I don't know how you do all this AND continue to train, AND participate in the YQ, AND continue to be sane!!! On top of it all I suspect there was some race strategy tweaks that had to be made once you learned this years race had been moved north!! Makes my head spin!! If the weather is anything like it was in 2015 up there, those fat balls will be fully appreciated by the dogs!!

  • It takes alot to keep things running smooth. SP Kennel really
    looks organized with the help of Scout. Just ask him! Thanks
    to the volunteers again from us fans. My finger is getting
    anxious for the refresh button. Good Luck Aliy & Allen!!

  • Great effort everyone at SPK ❤️🖤 Especially logistics supervisor "Scout" 🐾🐾enjoy reading what it requires to get ready for a 1000 mile adventure . Look forward to reading more . Denali🐾🐾 & Joanne 🇦🇺

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