It’s been a wild year. In more ways than one. Here at ATAO it’s been a year of culminations- and we’re almost to the highest peak of all. Iditarod is around the corner like- REALLY around the corner. We’re in the midst of drop bags, which is an adventure unto itself. With the big changes this year- an altered route, and especially many fewer checkpoint resources- our packing is going to come back to help or haunt us along the trail. The choices we make now will have a big effect. No more dilly dallying!
Sam finished the Willow 300 last week in 16th- a fantastic showing. The dogs looked great and were ready for more. That makes the third race this season (out of three!) where we’ve finished with the whole team. I’m really proud of that! One of my big focuses this year was amping up our vet care, and I’m feeling good about where we’ve gotten that.
One thing we’ve struggled with just a bit this year is keeping weight on the dogs. According to our vet checks, they are in basically perfect body condition, but ahead of Iditarod I’d like to get them just a tad on the high side of that scale. That will give them some extra to pull from over our big race. The good news is that they are eating really well on the races. That’s exactly what we need to keep the refueling process doing what it needs to do.
While we’ve been mostly injury free, and have okay weight now, if I look at my big picture goal of Iditarod in about 20 days, the Summit Quest is sadly not a smart bet for the team. The Quest can be intensely cold, and covers hilly terrain that takes a lot out of the athletes. If Iditarod didn’t start two weeks later, I wouldn’t be as worried about that- we would be able to build back their weight and help ease any potential sorenesses that may have arisen. But with just those two weeks between, it’s a bit of a gamble. At this point, it’s not a gamble I’m interested in taking. Now, not to fear- we’ll do those hills someday! But the goal right now is IDITAROD and we gotta focus in. So we have tendered our official withdrawal from this year’s Quest 300, and are gathering energy, supplies, and calories to prepare for the big one.
I’m a weird mix of excited and purely terrified for the race coming up. I know it will be a lot of things- not least of all tough. I hope that I can do the team justice. They are ready, strong, up to the challenge for sure. I am the weak link by a lot. As long as I can just do my water-boy job, keep the team happy and whole, I know they will rock.
As we near the start, we have things to do. We must complete our drop bags, make travel plans, Get All the Covid Tests, and generally dissolve into panic. Aside from the panic, our next list of chores come with a financial cost. We’re almost to our fundraising goal. If you have a few bucks to spare and want to help this amazing team get to the start, you can pitch in here. If donating isn’t a possibility for you, sharing our posts and site and the fundraiser are a huge help. And you know what- even just reading our long winded sagas mean the world and help us to keep going ONWARD. So thank you. I can’t reiterate enough: you are the reason we’ve been able to get where we are. ATAO is very much YOUR team. And your team is almost on the way to the biggest adventure so far.
Here’s where you can donate:
ATAO 2020/2021 Iditarod Prep
Our Patreon keeps the kennel going day-to-day. To reach Iditarod, we’ll stock up on straw, kibble, meat, equipment, and so much more, above and beyond our normal operations. To prepare the team, we’ll do camping trips, mid distance races, and plenty of work and adventuring. Whether you can pitch in a dollar for a bootie or anything else, every bit helps. Thank you so much for making our dream possible. Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and of course here on the website.