Sled Dog Sports Magazine - November 2004

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Sled Dog Sports Magazine - November 2004, Issue #3


  • s&ffiewstrwffiKsWORLDWIDE MAGAZINE


    Sled Dog Sports Worldwide Magazine is a monthly publication dedicated to thesport ofsled dog racing as well as the care and well being ofthe dogs that provide uswith so much love, enthusiasm and enjoyment. Our goal with this publication is toenhance participation in the sport by presenting it as the exciting, adventurous, andhigh-level endeavor that it is.

    Editorial Subrlrissions are welcome and highly encouraged. We cannot, however,be responsible for the damage or loss of unsolicited malerials. The best way to sub-mit articles or photos for consideralion, or lo inquire about specifics and guidelines isto do so via email at the address below.

    Advertising Submissions are even more welcome, please email, call or to download a rate packet. Reach your target market inan economical, efficient way. Sled Dog Sports Magazine reserves the right to rejectadvertising that is not appropriate.

    Deadlines for ads and editorial copy are the 15th of the month prior to the month ofpublication. ie: deadline for the December 2004 issue is November 1sth 2004.

    Subscriptions are available for $30 yearly in the U.S., $3B yearly in Canada, and $50yearly in Europe via airmail. Subscriptions are mailed out via Presort Standard Majland arrive in about 7-10 days from date of mailing, Note: Presort mail to Alaska is veryslow, sometimes taking 2-3 weeks. 1st Class l\4ail subscriptions usually arrlve in 1-3days from date of mailing and are an additional $10 per yearly subscription. Newstandand single copy price is $4.99 per issue,

    Mailing lists are not currently available for purchase,


    635 Route 94Newton. NJ 07860r:917-929-6118F: 973-300-0455

    ei greg@sleddogsportsmag.comw:

    Cover: Mitch Seavev in the 2004 lditarodPhoto: @ 2004 Jeff Schultz

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    Mitch Seaveylditarod GhamPion 2OO4

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    Mitch Seavey and team on their way to first place in the 2004 lditarod photo: @ 2004 Jeff Schultz www'alaskastock'com

  • I spoke with Mitch Seaaey in early lrtrooemberthis year.He was packing up the dog truck and on his way out of the SouthCentral Alaskan town of Sterling to travel north to get some snowtraining with the dogs. They usually go for a couple of weeks at a time,and it is a yearly event for Mitch and his team. Various winters he hasspent a large portion of the winter up in Nenana, Two Rivers, or overin Lake Louise. "This time of year we need to be on snow, and they aremore likely to have it than we are," Mitch says. "We are kind of shutdown right now, it is frozen pretty hard without a lot of snow"SDS: Hi Mitch, for our readers out there who may not know how youcame to be an Iditarod champiory tell me a little about your back-ground?MS: I was born in Minnesota, and grew up in Seward, AK. We movedthere when I was 4 yrs. old, just in time for the 1964 earthquake. Mydad got into dogs almost immediately through a fellow school teacherin Seward. Running dogs was one of my dad's dreams, and was themain reason we moved to Alaska in the first place.SDS: Did you have dogs in Minnesota?MS: No.SDS: Wow, that is quite a "follow your dream" type of move, to justpick up and take the family to Alaska.MS: That is exactly it, Alaska was a dream {or my dad. So at age 4, Ibecame an Alaskan. Almost immedi-ately my dad became acquainted andfriends with foe Redington Sr. Theyhad the Aurora dog mushers club, andas a small kid, I can remember run-ning races off of Knik lake over there.This school teacher friend of mydad's, Tom Johnsory is one of the peo-ple along with joe who is connectedwith originating the Iditarod race. Hewas a close family friend, and com-

    "I had been thinking that 2004zlould be our year. As each monthu)ent by, I had more end more con-fidence that I would be right."

    There is enough of us between my boys and I that are Iditarod veter-ans, that the information we give out is extremely high qualiry wefeel. We know what we are talking about, we've been doing it all ourlives. It is not a1l serious though, it has a decidedly humorous bend toit. People really have a good time. The tour has been ranked as oneof Alaska's top twenty attractions, and it was voted by AlaskaMagazine readers as Alaska's best sled dog tour. We are very proud ofit, and have been doing it for 11 yrs. We host thousands of people, andwe need to represent the sport to the public in a positive upliftingmanner. It is extremely rare to have a negative comment, some peoplecome in with a certain mind se! but on that note, we are pretty happywith the number of people we have had whose points of view aboutthe sport we have turned around. When you hook up 12 dogs andthey are all happy and excited to go, it is pretty hard for people to clingto their misconceptions that the dogs are abused or forced to run.SDS: Your sons have grown up around dogs and dog racing much thesame as you did.MS: Yeall, only more so!SDS: Do they want to make a career out of working with dogs?MS: They are not necessarily talking about making a career out of it.My oldest son Danny is about to graduate from college with a busi-ness degree, he is an extremely important part of the management ofour sled dog tour company. He is also an excellent dog musher and Iwouldn't be surprised if you see him signed up for the Iditarod again

    in the near future. My second oldestson Tyrell is signed up to run theIditarod this year, he spent one year incollege, didn't think too much of it, sohe took some time off to work in thefamily business and run dogs. He hasa full four year scholarship so he'llprobably go back, but he is also theone that I would think would end uprunning dogs in the end. Dallas is thethird oldest son he is an outstanding

    mercial fishing partner with my dad. One of our early contacts withJoe was leasing a fishing boat from him, but that is whole other story!The boat sits now, as it has for decades, beached on the tidal flats outin front of the Knik bar.SDS: Your dad ran the first Iditarod, and how many did he run total?MS: He ran the first two, 7973 & 1974 and then because he was a highschool teachel it was difficult to get time off, so he took a hiatus thenran again in 1,997, when it was the 25th anniversary of the race, thenagain in 2001 when my son Danny raced.SDS: Was it always a natural thing, to want to be involved with dogsor did you want to do more traditional sports while you were grow-ing up?MS: I did quite a few other things, we had horses as well, we didhunting with horses. I was also involved with high school wrestling,my dad was the wrestling coach at Seward high school. I always tookto the dogs though, and my sister took to the horses which she is stillinvoived with. Growing up, I mean my dad had a good job and all,but we moved into a house that didn't have electricity when wemoved iry there was no phone there at any time when I lived there, wewere 5 miles out at the end of the road, had to plow it ourselves, thatsort of thing.SDS: The real Alaskan lifestyle.MS: Exactly, we were busy just living there.SDS: I find it interesting that mushers can make a living with dogs inaddition to racing. Or maybe I should say the opposite, but in anycase, you run a hugely successful touring business outside of thesport, can you describe that a bit?MS: Our tour at our property in Seward, which is my parents proper-ty, is about an hour and a half tour including a two mile ride on a "cus-tom wheeled sled". The ride goes through the woods, up the canyonnext to a mountain it is really beautiful. It is a real wilderness ride, itis not just around a parking lot. It is enough that people can get asense for what it is like to be out in the woods with dogs. It is extreme-ly popular. We also have kennel and equipment demonstrations.

    wrestler - Greco Roman national champion in his age group, and he islooking at a wrestling scholarship to go to college. His goal is to wres-t1e in the Olympics for the U.S.A.SDS: I saw you and Tyrell talk at the ADMA symposium, and wasreally impressed by the focus and maturity of a young adult his age(20). Do you think the demands of taking care of the dogs and the 1es-sons learned working with them, from touring to competitiory havebeen helpful lessons in raising children?MS: That is exactly the case. We also home school all of our childreryso they spend a whole lot of time around adults rather than aroundyounger kids. I meary they have friends and all and do normal kidstuff too. We are really proud of them.SDS: Can you describe the strain of Alaskan Husky you use for theIditarod, and are they the same dogs you use in the touring business?MS: We use the same dogs year round. I have currently have 150dogs plus puppies. My main racing dogs are off duty from the end ofthe Iditarod until the middle of June. They do touring all through thesummer, get a few weeks of complete rest time in August, then inSeptember we start ATV training for racing. Our strain of dogs is across of traditional distance dogs with sprint dogs and our own spe-cial blend of herbs and spices!SDS: You've entered three teams in the Iditarod, how many dogs arein training for this?MS: At the present time Tyrell and I are training 66 dogs, we are train-ing together. Dallas has another group of 35 dogs for the puppy teamin the Iditarod. Our puppy team are really dogs all over 2 yrs old. Wedon't run yearlings, or young dogs in the race. We have another groupof 35-40 yearlings and older leaders to keep them going in the rightdirection. Those dogs do the tours in the winter when the other dogsare training to race.SDS: In August after you've rested the tour dogs that are going torace in the upcoming yea1, does it take a long time to get them to adaptto training for racing versus touring?MS: Well, you are getting into the good stuff here. First of all our cart

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    our ear ly ATV tr"r in ing.SDS: Holr' slorv, are you talking 7-8 mph?


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    rides aren't that slor'v. Our touring cart .holds 7 peop.le, and the {irst I have are extremelv driven, high attitude and ph.ysi.cally extrem.elyrnileisuphillslightly, thc-1. r'tall,v have to \^,r)l-k. Cjoingbackdonn we capable. We trait-r them st'r they have an immense anrount of confi-are on the brakes t l-re r,vholc way. When lve start ATV t lairr ing in dence,i treal l-vneveroccrrrstothernthattheycanfai l . TheythinktheySeptembel,weffoevenslowel. Youcan'tgoarwslolvert l lanlvegoin can do whatever we ask of thenr. In turn we lre\/er ask them io do

    more than they are capable of. We set up all of our training scssions,even pu.ppy walks, so that the dogs can succeed. 13y the tinr.e they get

    MS: I'm talking 1-2 mph going up the hills, my dogs learn and know into my group a ferv years laier, they have never failed at anything.horv to pu11. The ATV is in trsl gear r'vith the motor off ! That's lrow we They just believe that they can do anything they set oltt to do. Thatsta|t merr l .a l i ty is imnrensely r a luable i r r lorrg distance lacing.SDS: Do you think r'-orking that slor""' and hard limits how fast they SDS: Do you ever buy dogs, and if vou do, do 1.ou notice a differcncccan. go nhen they h.ave the chance, I mean because of muscie devel- in thcir statc of nrind from the dogs that have the r,vhole "seavey con-opment and a trained pace? f i dencc proF,r . r m " ab:o |bcd I r . rnr pu ppvhot 'd ?MS: Well it stalts r,r'ith genetics, my dogs are irrclined and physically MS: In buying dogs, I try b buy dogs tirat are similar to the ones I amable to really \,vant to go fast. In terms of training, there are diffcrent raising. I'm more likeJy to buy dogs for breeding. Thi.s pasi summerways to train differcnt dogs. Ycals ago I had dogs that'r.vele slowcr I bought cluite a {ev,, clogs, and some of them arc outstandins and I'mandlneed.edtotrainthemtogofaster. T1-rereisar,."'holedif{erentmen- .really impressed witl-r them, and some of then-r are disappointing.talitl, in training a slor,r-er dog to go faster. What I have nor,r, are dogs Thev all went into the puppy group (n,ith the 2 yr olds) beiause eventhat tend to be too fast for the lditarod. I have to train them to go if they are older they havcn't been in my program and I carr't expectslower. I reallv clon't knorv if it limits iheir top end because I could thern to do what I'm about to go less aboni 23 mph. I can 5;o 20 mph clown hills an

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    Siberian Huskies. Mine are a little dif{erent.SDS: How much, and how, . lo you thin-1. th. 'dogr that run the ld i tarodcornpet i I ively have changed ?MS: In general the size of the dog has gotten smalle4 but there are stillsome good size dogs that can do well in the Iditaro...


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