Iditarod 2016 Replay….

Vern’s Version of the 2016 Iditarod:  Vern kept everyone up-to-date via Facebook posts during the 2016 Iditarod. In case you missed it – here’s a replay! Thanks to Mike Kenney for usage of the AMAZING photos! (all photos copyright protected)

March 6:  Nathan has reached Yentna Station which is the first checkpoint. He pulled into the long term parking, so it looks like he will rest a bit and feed them a light watered down meal. Most teams so far have gone through the checkpoint. Some will rest on the trail while others will go the full 83 miles to the next checkpoint. Why is Nathan resting so soon? Since he’s been up in Alaska he has only been on one training run. Plus being as warm as it is, keeping a team well hydrated will be key. He will ease the team into this race slowly, resting a lot in an effort to keep their speed. He will make frequent stops, every twenty minutes or so, to let the team dip snow or just roll around and cool off. He plans on snacking every 2 hours, keeping a constant supply of fuel in the fire. Reports are the trail is hard and fast. The ice bridges on the daunting Dalzell Gorge have broken up and given way. The trail workers are scrambling to reroute that section of trail. It was so warm and sunny at the start I sunburned my face, so you can imagine what it is like for a thick furred husky!

March 7:  Nathan pulled into Finger Lake this morning at about 7 am. He still has all 16 dogs. It looks as though he is sticking to his schedule. The trails are hard and icy so the mushers must stand on their brake pads constantly to keep the teams from running to fast. The icy trails are hard on wrists and feet, so frequent breaks and bootie changes will help prevent any injuries. I think he will rest here for awhile before he heads out to Rainy Pass. With 84 teams on the trail they will be bunched up for quite awhile.

March 7:  Nathan is into Rainy Pass at about 1:30. His travel time and speed are staying consistent. Looks like he’ll be taking a break here. So far his longest rest has been about 3 hours, so maybe he will stay a little longer and get some rest himself. I imagine he’s starting to get a little tired. His back was really sore before the race. Hopefully he can keep it loosened up. He reached the checkpoint with all 16 dogs which is great.

March 7: Well, he must be feeling alright or he’s on a mission. After just under 4 hours of rest he’s off to Rohn. He left with all 16 of his team members. Go Nathan!

March 8:  Now that I’m back in Minnesota I can catch up on what’s been happening in the race. Nathan made it into Nikolai around 12:40 after making the run from Rohn in about 9 hours. All the mushers are still bunched up, no one has made any surprise moves as of yet. Nathan’s average traveling speed is 8.4 mph. That is very good and if he can keep it up he will be right up there. With over 700 miles left to Nome there is a lot of things that can and will happen. Steady runs, frequent rests will bode well for the teams later on in the race. Don’t put too much stock into the standings at least until everyone has taken their 24 hour layovers. Most teams will be taking these mandatory layovers in the next 3 or 4 checkpoints.

March 8:  Nathan just left Nikolai after about a 5 hour rest. Where will he take his 24? He packed enough supplies at 3 different checkpoints to keep his options open. Not sure how many dogs he left with though.

March 9:  Nathan just pulled into Takotna with all 16 dogs. He ran through McGrath with no rest so I’m thinking he may take his 24 hour mandatory here. Some of the lead teams opted to go through Takotna and head on up to Ophir. Nathan’s traveling speed remains steady and will put him in the thick of things as he continues further into the race. With the pace the teams are running, I hope I make it to Nome in time for the finish!

March 9:  While Nathan is resting in Takotna, I had a chance to watch an Insider video interview of him. He said there is a bug running through the team. That bug actually started with a couple of younger dogs a few days before the start. We were hoping it wouldn’t spread to the entire team but it looks like it has. On the bright side 1) he has had nice run times 2) the bug showed up early in the race, and 3) the Vet crew is outstanding and will give the dogs whatever they need to work through this. Takotna is a popular place for the 24 hour layover. It’s early enough in the race where the dogs haven’t been pushed beyond their reserves. Also the mushers have a great place to rest and recharge themselves which will help their decision making when the race reaches it’s final stages. The mushers also feast on steak and homemade pies there. I look for Nathan to stick with his race plan which should trim 8- 10 hours off his rookie run.

March 10: Nathan left Takotna with all 16 dogs. After a short stop in Ophir to pickup some supplies he’s back on the trail again headed for Cripple. He will probably rest about 4 hours beyond Ophir, breaking up the long run. He should reach Cripple around 11pm tonight. He will take a good rest there before heading to Ruby. Finally nice to see these mandatory rests end and watch some racing again!!
March 11: Well, Nathan must be on plan B or C now????? He must know something or is dealing with something we won’t know about until he gets to Nome. There are all kinds of scenarios going through my head and anything I write is pure speculation! Now that he is moving again and is about 30 miles from Ruby, I’m “speculating” that he will rest at least through the heat of the day there. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started dropping a dog or two to get the team down to a more manageable size. If the team is healthy and over their bug I look for him to take his 8 hour mandatory a few more checkpoints down. If they’re not, than maybe it’s best to take it at Ruby. Like I said, this is all speculation!!
March 12: Nathan is into Galena resting. He had a fast run time. He took his 8 at Ruby and dropped 2 dogs. Last night on the way to Nulato, a snowmobiler hit Jeff King’s team and also went after Aliy Zirkle. I hope they catch this guy and charge him with attempted murder. I think Nathan will stay 4 here and then head out. I can’t help but think something is not quite right.
March 13: Nathan is on the way to Unalakleet. He will stop half way to rest before completing the 90 mile trek. There is little to no snow the closer he gets to the coast. He is currently 24th, still running at a good pace. It all comes down to cutting rest in the final 270 miles if he wants to move up into the top 20. This year’s competition is stacked. Of the mushers ahead of him, 5 have won the race and at least 10 more are consistent top 10 finishers. A lot, good or bad can happen on the coast. It’s just hard sitting here staring at the tracker wondering how his race is going.
March 15: Just a quick update before heading up to Nome. Kerry picked up 3 of the dropped dogs yesterday. They were Donald, Mickey and Metro. Looking at the Vet papers that came back with the dogs it shows they’ve been on medication for diarrhea. This tells me Nathan has been battling with this bug for the entire race, thus the longer than planned rests. He is still on pace to better his 2014 time, so all things considered he is still having a solid run!
March 16: Well I wish I could let everyone know what’s happening, but we only know he checked into Safety and then turned around and went back. So my guess is the dogs didn’t want to go. He dropped Google who has never been dropped before and one of his steadiest performers. When we saw Google he was very tired and his Vet papers said he’d had diarrhea as well. It looks as though it has gone through the whole team and now need the extra rest. Frustrating but the dogs come first.
March 16: It appears that Katherine Keith has stopped and is trying to help Nathan pull away from the checkpoint. Fingers crossed they follow. I’m sure there are a lot of thoughts and emotions running through Nathan’s head. I know he doesn’t want to feel like he’s letting his sponsors and supporters down. Being this close to the finish after 950 miles you know is eating at him. Running into trouble happens to the best of teams. Just to attempt a race of this magnitude takes time, courage and commitment. What ever the outcome it will not be because of a lack of any of these.
Looks like Katherine has moved on.
March 16: Well it’s a double whammy! Carmen was able to get to the Safety checkpoint and see what was happening. Not only have the dogs been sick, but Nathan is extremely ill also. He has been coughing up blood and showing signs of being a little incoherent. He is going to try and go again on a half an hour. If that doesn’t work he said he would try again in the morning. The race officials will keep an eye on him to make sure he is capable of making decisions for the welfare of his team.
March 17: At this point there is still no movement on Nathan’s part. As of yesterday his lungs were clear and had no temp. He was visibly and mentally exhausted. I know he has his reasons for wanting to finish the race. To all of us who care about him, he has nothing to prove. We will let him make one more attempt to leave. One way or another, Nathan and team will be in Nome today.
March 17: 17 miles to Nome. Looks like his team picked up the pace when mushing icon Dee Dee Jonrowe showed up on the trail!
March 17: He and Dee Dee are climbing the last huge hill on the trail. Then down to sea level and home to Nome!!
March 17: 3 miles left on this 10 day emotional Rollercoaster ride! Thanks everyone for the prayers and positive vibes!!
March 17: Nathan and team led by Sheriff and Miss Sally cross under the famed Burled Arch for the 3rd time!!
March 18: I’m back in a Wasilla. Today is packing day, getting everything ready to start our 3400 mile trip home. Kerry and I pick up the dogs in Anchorage tomorrow after their flight from Nome at about noon. We will hit the road from there. Hopefully the roads will be clear and the trip uneventful and trouble free. Not to much to ask is it? I am so overwhelmed and happy for all of the support everyone has given Nathan. He still is under the weather but at least he is on medication and should be fine in a few days. Are there any more Iditarods in his future?? Maybe, maybe not.

Jake Hway’s Beargrease Updates

2/1 – 11:03 PM
We are a little over half way through the race and the competition is starting to heat up. Ryan Anderson and Nathan Schroeder are running strong in the front of the pack and Keith Aili and Jason Campeau and Coleen Wallin are staying close behind and might have some tricks up their sleeves. You never know what Keith is going to do and Campeau is running the team of, and is under the mentorship of Jake Berkowitz. Whoever wins this race will have to work hard for it and make all the right calls from here to Duluth. But if Nathan wins, I give all credit to his awesome handlers.
2/2 – 6:21 PM
We got Nathan Schroeders team turned right around in Finland with a quick snack and pulled the booties off. Jason Campeau is 40 minutes behind with an identical leg time. Ryan Anderson is taking his remaining 1.5 hrs in Finland before trailing behind on their way to Hwy 2 where there is a mandatory 4 hour rest before the last leg of the race. Jason Campeau is amped up and seems to be ready to run up many more hills out there to try to gain on Nathan. We were kind of expecting that Nathan would be starting to feel the effects of his rocket runs at the start but it’s not looking like that is going to happen. Beckie Hacker took a bad spill way back on the first day and hurt her shoulder pretty good but she is still keeping a good attitude as always. I haven’t seen her in a couple days but hear she’s still the rookie with the biggest smile on her face.
2/2 – 10:49 PM
Beargrease update: the leaders are resting at the Hwy 2 check point just outside of Two Harbors. Nathan Schroeder can leave at 1:17 am and Jason Campeau can leave leave at 1:45am and 23 seconds. Giving Nathan a 28min 23 sec lead for the 35 mile dash to the finish at Billies. Historically the last run takes 4hr 15min to 4hr 45min. There could be a winner by 5:30am so set those alarm clocks to get to the finish line in time! Or you can watch on line at
2/3 – 3:23 AM
Waiting at Billy’s for the finish. Nathan is about 24 miles out according to the tracker. It showed Jason about 4 miles or so behind.I didn’t watch Jason leave, but,it sounds like his team left looking strong. If Nathan keeps moving forward he should be able to hold him off. Bandit joined Fillmore in the dog truck
His hip is bothering him again. So……Sheriff and Bambi led the team out of Highway 2 checkpoint.
It’s hard to leave with your 2 best in the truck. It is snowing and blowing pretty good outside, with visibility pretty low. We’re keeping our fingers crossed here for a strong finish
2/3 – 6:53 AM
Out of the last 90 hours, only three of them have been lousy because I was asleep. The rest of the time has been spent caring for the team of Nathan Schroeder in the Beargrease and making sure they are well rested and fed and healthy and in good spirits, along with driving and hurrying up to go wait somewhere and meeting new friends and having great conversations with awesome people.
2/4 –
Beargrease 2016 was Awesome!!!
I was part of Nathan Schroeders handling team and had a blast. Our team consisted of Vern Schroeder as team captain, Carmen Erickson as the crew mom, making sure Nathan and the rest of the team was well fed and healthy and keeping me awake as I drove the rig through the sleepless nights. Brett Pugsley was the handler in training and did a phenomenal job doing all of the chores that needed doing and was fast and efficient and Vern and I never had to worry about any of those cuz Brett always had them done. Vern and I were mostly focused on the health and preventative maintenance of the dogs.
The Beargrease race was put on by a great crew of many many people. Jason Rice does an awesome job promoting and organizing it every year, thank you to all of the coordinators and judges and timers and road crossing volunteers and handlers and radio operators and checkpoint volunteers and and and…
Once again the Veterinary team was fantastic although Nathan’s team was in great shape and didn’t need much vet care, thanks to Nathan’s training and conditioning and his handling crew… But mostly his handling crew.
Thank you to the snowmobile trail clubs and snowmobilers that are so considerate of the dog teams while they’re out on the trail.
All of the sponsors of the race and racers are what keeps these races going and please support them any way possible. Duluth Trading Co sponsors both the race, and Nathan specifically. Huge thanks to you guys.
All of the check points were awesome and it is a really great feeling to be there with so many people that love to help and serve. There was food at every checkpoint and the friendly conversations between strangers/new friends were ongoing. Anyone that is thinking about volunteering in the years to come… just get out there and do it. You won’t be sorry.
Special thanks to Sarah at Trail Center checkpoint who went way above and beyond with keeping her place open and staffed through the night as teams were coming and going. Trail Center is a great place to get a bite to eat as you are traveling the Gunflint trail this summer. It will definitely be more than just a bite.
Thank you to my crew back at Chilly Dogs Sled Dog Trips who picked up the slack for me so I could go and help in bringing Nathan’s team to his fourth victory. Anyone that is wondering what it is like to drive a team of sled dogs can check us out online, Facebook or website. Just look us up. We have several of Nathan’s retired race dogs here running trips with us and having a blast. You can call in and request a Schroeder Beargrease/Iditarod dog on your team.
All of these people and many more are what is keeping these races going but it’s really all about the dogs. They absolutely love to do what they do. They are born to pull and love working together as a team. Their reward is the run itself, we as mushers just enable them to do that.
There also would be no race without the fans and spectators. If you haven’t seen a race start before, you are missing out.
Thanks again, one and all.

Vern’s Beargrease Blog:

1/25 – 10:45 AM
9204_447564542107972_4539570443771985454_nBeargrease is just around the corner. This looks to be a highly competitive race. Nathan’s team with one exception, is healthy and ready to race. Ryan Anderson returns as the defending champion and after a year hiatus, Keith Aili is back and will definitely be amongst the favorites. Colleen Wallin looks to be driving a strong team which just came off a win at the Mail Run. 4 time champion Jamie Nelson is back on the runners looking for title number 5. Jason Campeau placed 17th in last year’s Iditarod could factor in the top placings also. Jen Freking and Erin Altimus have also placed high in previous races.The winner of this year’s race cannot make any mistakes. Consistent runs, impeccable dog care and a little luck will play a major factor in winning. Ryan is probably a slight pre-race favorite, but Nathan is ready and hungry for his 4th win. Time will tell!
1/28 – 9:46 PM
Beargrease is getting close now. Nathan has made his final choice of team members. Fillmore was a bit of a question mark earlier, but looks to be 100%. Look for him and Bandit to be out front leading the team. We unfortunately will be without our #1 handler Bridgette Kelleher this year. She’s been a huge part of our team for years. We will miss her! Along with myself, Carmen Erickson,Jake Hway, Kerry Kulju Nelson, Brett Pugsley and Toni Pugsley will be behind the scenes taking care of the team and musher at the check points. With 28 hours of mandatory rest and the way the checkpoints and mileage are set up, there won’t be any surprise moves by anyone. Some teams will rest early, while some may go out fast and take more rest further into the race. If you run too hard too early you will deplete your team of all its reserves. No amount of rest will bring them back if that happens. The “”hills” will definitely be a factor to the mushers who have never run this race. The hills are steep, daunting and plentiful. Starts playing with your head and body after awhile. It will be an exciting four days up and down the North Shore.
I will post updates when and if the Internet is available. Who do you think will be in the top 5??
1/31 – 8:04 AM
In a little over 3 hours, the teams will hitting the trail. The pre-race jitters will all be gone and the dogs and mushers will be in their comfort zone,running the Beargrease trail. Do the dogs know it’s race time? They certainly are a little more amped up because of the other teams, but I think to them it’s another training run with a few more perks. A lot of snacks,massages and the excitement of chasing other teams. Although the field of mushers is small, the quality is huge. A top 5 finish in this race will be a major accomplishment. Stay tuned for more updates after the start.
1/31 – 5:25 PM
Beargrease update…. bib#2 Jason C.,turned and burned at Finland, heading on to Sawbill. Nathan stayed just under 2 hours and is now on his way to Sawbill. The team drank, ate and rested pretty well. His run to Finland was very fast. Too fast??? Time will tell. 350 miles to go. Keith, Ryan, Julie left shortly behind. We won’t see him again until tomorrow when he gets to Trail Center, somewhere around 5am. The trail from Finland to about 15 miles beyond Sawbill gets tough. The Sawtooth Mountain range is a series of steep, steep hills. Some seem like you will never make it to the top. I think Ryan and Keith, along with myself were surprised Nathan ran the first leg so fast. He knows what his team is capable of.
2/1 – 8:39 AM
The next 2 runs will start shaking things out a little bit. Everyone teams look pretty good.
2/1 – 11:19 AM
Trail Center update: Nathan was out at 10:22 after resting 5 hours. Trail time he has a 21 minute lead over Jason. He pulled Bandit out of lead because he couldn’t get him to slow down to the pace he wants to travel. He put Metro and Bambi in lead. These next two legs of the race will tell a lot as far as who has the stronger dog teams. Nathan still has all of his dogs. Musher is in great spirits which in turn shows in the great attitude of the dogs..Erin, Ryan, Keith and Colleen are out also. All the teams are still looking great! Becki took a nasty spill and injured her left shoulder. Hopefully she can finish the race using her good arm. This is an Iditarod qualifier for her. Jamie has dropped 3 dogs, I’m not sure what the issues are. Julie Albert is having fun and running a very nice run also.
2/1 – 9:11 PM
On our way back from Mineral Center. Nathan stayed 4 1/2 hours. Ryan left first with 12 dogs, followed by Keith with 10, Nathan with 14 and Jason right behind with 13. I look for Ryan and Keith to pick up the pace and try to close the hour gap Nathan has on them. Jason is keeping close tabs on Nathan running pretty close to the same speed the last couple checkpoints. We have a race. Colleen,Erin and Julie have left also and are still in the mix. They should be at Trail Center around midnight. Mandatory 4 hour rest and vet checks will happen there.
2/2 – 1:07 AM
4 teams into Trail Center. Nathans team still trotting strong. I haven’t checked run times but looks like maybe a team or so is fading a little. More to come after the Vet check.
2/2 – 2:26 AM
I hate trying to do math when I am sleep deprived. I had Nathan’s rest time figured an hour off. Had to check 3 times to convince myself I was wrong. We are dropping Fillmore. Sore left wrist and shoulder.
2/2 – 3:01 AM
Nathan has been questioning himself the first part of the race, as to how fast the team is traveling. He has 6 rookie racers on his team and they are all doing phenomenal! Bambi is leading her first race ever, Grizzlie is the new cheerleader, Bernies’gate is smooth as silk, Maple is a Fillmore clone,Jake is steady as can be and Donald is a great dog who can also lead. So far these youngsters are a great fit for his Iditarod veterans,giving a little bit of that youthful exuberance to the team.They still have about 110 miles to go, so we’ll see how the fare when the going gets real tough. Nathans lead is an hour or better over everyone in the field. He knows he needs to be careful and make the right decisions. These youngsters have a bright future ahead of them!
2/2 – 5:43 AM
Nathan left Trail Center for the last time. On his way to Sawbill. He left with 13 dogs and the youngsters were barking to go. Bandit and Bambi in lead. Ryan was out first 12 dogs, Nathan, Keith 10 dogs and Jason 13 dogs followed.
2/2 – 2:09 PM
Nathan left Sawbill at 1:27pm. He was the first one out.Ryan Anderson left next. Jason Campeau had a stellar run to Sawbill closing the gap between he and Nathan to about 40 minutes. Keith will probably leave soon also. Ryan and Keith both have about 2 more hours extra rest to take. Nathan dropped youngsters Maple and Donald as to not stress them as he goes into race mode fending off Jason, who also dropped to his core Iditarod dogs for the final push to the finish.
2/2 – 3:11 PM
Sitting at Finland waiting for Nathan to arrive. Talked a little to Ryan at Sawbill. He’s not having a bad race,but it seems his team is not on their “A” game this race. As in any sport you do your best to prepare for what lies ahead, but, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Colleen, and Erin are duking it out for the top female spot. Julie Albert has a nice team also. Only 2 scratches thus far. A lot of tired mushers, handlers, race officials and volunteers hanging in there. Still smiles everywhere. What a great event!!
2/2 – 7:27 PM
On our way to the last checkpoint. Nathan looks to be a little over half way there maintaining his 40 minute/5 mile lead. We (the handlers) have to really suck it up. We need to pay utmost attention to each individual dogs needs at this mandatory 4 hour stop. The vets will go through the team and with their help and guidance work through any issues they may find. We will give them a good meal, check feet, massage wrists, shoulders etc,If he can maintain this lead and leaves the checkpoints to the finish without any issues he should be fine. The Campeau team is not going to make this easy. Jason, a former pro athlete is very intense and his team is still looking strong.Goinfg to be some excitement at the finish at Billy’s Bar.
2/2 – 10:59 PM
Nathan and team are resting at the final check point. He will be leaving for the finish at 1;31 am, 33 minutes ahead of Jason. In effect that is about a 4 mile headstart. With 38 miles left it would be a tall undertaking to catch Nathan. But as I have always said, it’s a dog race and anything can happen. We won’t breathe easy until we see the final result at Billys. A fourth title would sure be nice though!
2/3 – 3:32 AM
Waiting at Billy’s for the finish. Nathan is about 24 miles out according to the tracker. It showed Jason about 4 miles or so behind.I didn’t watch Jason leave, but,it sounds like his team left looking strong. If Nathan keeps moving forward he should be able to hold him off. Bandit joined Fillmore in the dog truck
His hip is bothering him again. So……Sheriff and Bambi led the team out of Highway 2 checkpoint.
It’s hard to leave with your 2 best in the truck. It is snowing and blowing pretty good outside, with visibility pretty low. We’re keeping our fingers crossed here for a strong finish.
3/3 – 6:37 AM
2016 in the books. Elusive win #4! A super group of canine athletes, hard work and dedication by their musher, equals success! Congrats Nathan, mom and I are proud of your accomplishments!

Nathan’s Trail Report

12645156_448488445348915_1997752859889440180_nThis Beargrease was amazing, 4 wins!! Another tough and fast race. It is always tough, even if it is slow. I always hope the hills get smaller with each year, it doesn’t happen. (I think they get bigger). Hats off to the Beargrease, the board members, the volunteers and all the fans. (Even if you have another favorite musher.) It was a job well done.


The start was amazing, I passed everyone and was first into Finland. I did have to stop after passing Jason, he told me he saw a cougar and I really wanted to talk to him about that. I had to know if he really did see one. The team going too fast, I was worried about the speed for the first half, I was trying to slow them down ( I even stood on the drag pad with both feet) so that they would not burn out at the end. We had a “chat on the trail” and I told them to ” slow down and they did. But there was a moment when I thought that I slowed them down too much. It was hard to get them going at the last few checkpoints”. I wanted to rest more in the begining and have energy for the end. At every race we make decisions checkpoint to checkpoint, hoping that you are making the right one whether it is dropping a dog or how long to rest, how much to feed the dogs and when to feed them.

Over the race I had an amazing handling team. I could not have done this without them. My dad, Vern Schroeder, and Jake Hway took excellent care of the dogs and the gear. Needing to change runners on the sled or anything else that needed to be done.   Brett was so helpful and was in handler training along the way.  He has a great work ethic and never stopped moving. Carmen was the team “mom” taking care of everyone, organizing the checkpoint, feeding the team, packing the sled, making sure both the team and I had what was needed.
There are so many people to thank, I don’t know if I will remember them all. First, All my friends and family, this is not possible without you. And all the people who have sponsored a dog, checkpoint or miles in the race. Sarah at Trail center for the race miles sponsorship and the Camp Chow food. Kerry Nelson for the Facebook updates and sponsorship monitoring. Linda and Bill for all the support overall and helping to connect the Green Mill event. Huge thank you to the Green Mill and donating the total amount from the gift card’s purchased. Pheasants Plus for the support, fundraising event, and letting the team train on your land. Minn Alaska transport for the drop bag transportation and Granite Gear for helping out with the dog collars.
This would not have happened without my sponsors, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters. Thank you to the brothers and sisters from Local 1348 and 548 for your sponsorship & support!
Big thank you to Duluth Trading Co, the generous donations have kept me and the team warm and able to work and function in the winter weather throughout training and the Beargrease! I honestly love these clothes, they are durable, warm and can be adjusted for the weather easily.
Thank you again,
4 time Beargrease Champion and 2014 Iditarod rookie of the year,

Online Auction Now Live!

12644808_448500018681091_6623376869839152588_nWhile Nathan is heading down the Beargrease Trail, the behind the scene team’s focus shifts to Alaska and the Iditarod!

The online auction has opened! Want to take a ride with Nathan? Looking for a special and unique gift for yourself or someone else? Check out the auction offerings and bid, bid, bid!

How awesome would it be for us to greet Nathan as he finishes the Beargrease with the news that all of the auction items have been bid on? You can help us make that happen!

We are also still looking for some dog and checkpoint sponsors!  It adds so much to your Iditarod watching experience to know that Nathan has “your” dog on his team or is getting ready to pull into “your” checkpoint!  Sponsor a checkpoint here! Sponsor a dog here!

Let’s all pull together and help Nathan and the team hit the Iditarod Trail!

Winter Update!

Hi Race Fans!

A quick update on what Nathan and the team are up to now that winter finally seems to have arrived!

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Nathan is continuing to do fifty mile training runs. He has been clearing trails at the same time. The river isn’t quite ready to be safe to run on yet, but he has found a way to get the miles on the dogs without relying on the river. He’s been running two 10-dog teams every other day.

 It has been cold! It’s getting down to 25 below!

The plans for the Iditarod are on track.  We are still looking for sponsors, it is not too late: click here for details! We are getting the drop bags ready, they need to be shipped out next week. Nathan is cutting the dog food and will have it packaged this week and ready to ship.
He is also preparing for the Beargrease!   We need to get the gear packed for the musher and handlers as well as the dogs.  He is looking forward to returning to the Beargrease!  Nathan is not sure what team he is bringing yet – young dogs or veterans?  There is a fund raiserJanuary 29th at the Greenmill in Duluth. Be sure to check it out as a kickoff to Beargrease that start that weekend!

First Snow!

First snow means it’s sled time!  “It was exciting to get on the sled,” Nathan said as he took out eight dogs: Sheriff, Mickey, Grizzly, Yentna, Bella, Maple, Buffy and Rohn.  The river isn’t frozen safely enough and there isn’t enough time in the day to run four 8 dog teams in a day – so these eight were the lucky ones! Hopefully when the river freezes, and has been tested for safety, he can take the bigger teams for longer training runs with the sled. Once the river is thoroughly frozen, Nathan will need to use the snowmobile to test and pack a trail on the river. Once he can run the river, he will not need to cross any roads or go down logging roads. Until Mother Nature cooperates, Nathan and the team will need to continue to train with the truck.

There is a bit of sad news in the kennel,  Diablo has been really sore. He is ten and is needing to retire. Nathan said, “He is such an awesome dog. One of the finest dogs I have ever had.” There are only three dogs in history to run and win three times in the whole Beargrease: Madonna, Jackamo, and Diablo.  All three are from Nathan’s kennel and raced with him. Diablo has earned the treat to walk around the yard, free to eat snacks. He is already wanting to come in the house, so he will be the new house dog soon!

The Iditarod drop bags arrived in Warba from Alaska!!!  Nathan and the whole team are preparing the gear and food to be packed and shipped to Alaska by the middle of January.  Dog booties have been cleaned, sorted, and put together ready to pack. The rest of the gear is getting counted, sorted, washed, dried, cut up, and organized for packing.  Thank you to everyone who is helping.  Jen Reiter and her class are getting the snacks ready and everything else she does! Brett Pugsley, has been a big help in the kennel, and at the parade. Kerry Nelson is the “Den Mother” and is so helpful it is hard to list all that she does. Toni Pugsley has been a great help with the behind the scenes including fund raising and helping at the parade.

Brett was here again this weekend, he was a huge help!! He cleaned the kennel, helped to feed, hook up, and run the dogs, and even switched out hay in the dog houses. He and Nathan took the dogs out for 40 miles on Saturday.  Nathan and the team continue to be on an every other day running schedule. He takes all 32 dogs for 40 mile runs. He has been swapping leaders around and seeing who will work well together. The main leaders have been Donald, Mickey, Goofy, Frozen and Grizzly. They are all doing great! Of course they need to learn, and Metro, Achilles, Fillmore, Bandit, Sheriff, Miss Sally are up there showing them the ropes. Hard work and persistence will lead to winning and a successful kennel.

As far the yearlings, Maple, Buffy, and Nala continue do very well!  Snip and Snag are also doing great and getting more mature.  Nathan think they are going to do amazing in the near future. Really, all the yearlings are doing wonderful.

A big “Thank you” Duluth Trading. The gear has been helping Nathan and the team stay warm. Thank you to Minn-Alaska Transport for the shipping!  Thank you for the continued support from Millwright Local 1348, Millwright Local 548, North Central States Region Council of Carpenters.  Pheasants Plus has been very supportive. Nathan runs dogs on their land, and they are also sponsors!  Of course, thank you to all the fans, checkpoint sponsors, dog sponsors and the “mile” sponsors.

Aside from the dogs, we are getting ready for Christmas! Happy Holidays to all!