Allen has 14 strong, experienced racers with him and all of them can not wait to get out on the trail.
Allen is taking with him Champ, Chena, Clyde, Commando, Driver, Felix, Five, Dutch, Junior, Kodiak, Nomex, Rodney, Spark and Violet.
The most experienced dog on the team is Clyde who has run the Quest three times and this is his 9th 1000 mile start. He has seen and done it all.
Felix, Kodiak and Commando have run the trail twice and Dutch, Spark, Champ, Rodney, Nomex and Junior once – in the opposite direction starting in Whitehorse.
Quest rookies are Chena, Driver, Five and Violet although all but Five have two YQ300’s under their harnesses. Five has not seen any of the Quest trail before (other than those that are part of our regular, local trails)
The final configuration of the team is yet to be confirmed as Allen has a wealth of great leaders to choose from, but at this stage it looks likely he will lead out with Chena and Junior.
Today was the day for final tasks and finishing touches. To the dogs, Allen’s sled and the dog truck that has to do a couple thousand miles over the next couple weeks.
Jeff brought each dog in to the dog room one-by-one and gave them a thorough going over. He weighed them all, attached necklines and their YQ tags to their collars, cut toenails and put “pink ointment” salve onto every foot to sooth and protect. This is the same ointment that Allen will have out on the trail.
We also start the omeprazole/antiacid regime the day before the race and continue until after they have come in from the trail. For those not familiar with this medication there has been extensive research by Dr Mike Davis et al, about the benefits of dogs having an antiacid regime while racing long distances. This lessens the chance of getting gastric ulcers and is just one other thing we do to keep our athletes healthy. The product we use requires it to be given at least three hours after a snack/meal and at least half an hour before. This can be tricky to continue on the trail but this is factored into each run and Allen will stop the team on the trail at that particular time, if need be, to ensure this important medication is given.
There are a number of dogs that missed out on making the team and will certainly be kept in the frame for the two Iditarod teams. We understand sponsors and fans of these dogs are disappointed but they have all contributed to training runs and the overall strength in the yard. You can’t get to the point of choosing 14 great dogs without several more in the wings pushing for their spots. Dogs 15 and 16 were very close to being chosen.
Other reasons your favourite missed out may also be that they are still in rehab from some soreness earlier in the season, they may not be eating as well as they should right now or they just are not quite ready to run 1000 miles yet. They will continue to train and be cared for by the team at home.