Photography Articles (On my blog)
Dog Mushing Photos
Dog mushing in Alaska
Alaska in general has a long history of dog mushing. It was, and still is in some places, an important mode of travel during winter months. Although, many have switched over to machine powered transportation like snow machines or four wheelers, there are still plenty who choose to run dogs for both practical, recreational, or professional sporting reasons.
In accord with the different types of dog mushing comes a variety of types of sleds. A basket sled, used in dog sled racing, has a bed raised several inches above the surface of the snow. Sprint sleds are often short-bodied basket sleds. In contrast, a toboggan sled has a lower carriage and uses a closed bed, allowing the sled to slide or float over deep snow.
Both of these types of sleds have runners which stick out behind the sled, on which the musher can stand. Older sleds relied on hooks attached to the sled with a rope, whereas modern sleds usually include drag and claw brakes built into the sled. Fairbanks hosts many dog sled races, including the Yukon Quest, the North American, and even the Iditarod which made a historical start in Fairbanks in 2003 due to lack of snow in South-central Alaska.
The Yukon Quest dogsled race is sometimes called the "Toughest Sled Dog Race in the World." The start and finish of the 1000 mile race alternates between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
Held in February, the racers often face inclement weather. Cold is an understatement, with temperatures reaching 50 below zero and winds up to 100 mph.
The race trail crosses frozen rivers, through remote villages, and over four mountain ranges, including the arduous ascent of Eagle Summit in the Steese Mountains. In Fairbanks, the race either starts or finishes on the Chena River between the Cushman Street Bridge and the new Centennial Bridge. The race follows the river to North Pole, and may be viewed from many locations where the river passes under other bridges.
Gear and Equipment
The following items must be presented to the checker before checking in at each checkpoint (2007 race)
In addition, eight (8) booties for each dog, either in the sled or in use and in the sled, are required when a driver signs out of each checkpoint.
For more info, visit the Yukon Quest official website: www.yukonquest.com
All Alaska Sweepstakes
The 2008 All Alaska Sweepstakes dog sled race was the 100 commemorative, marking a milestone in dog racing and painting an intriguing historical picture. Sixteen mushers participated and the $100,000 purse went to the exclusive first place position! Mitch Seavey won the 400 mile race in a record time, and was followed in second by Jeff King, just 10 minutes behind, and Lance Mackey took third. The race is held in Nome, Alaska, and was last run 25 years ago.
Covering more than 1150 miles of beautiful and desolate wilderness, the Iditarod trail sled dog race is one of the most extreme known to man. Raced as a tribute to the brave life-saving serum run to Nome in 1925, the Iditarod is more than just a competition. The mushers guide a team of 12-16 dogs from Anchorage to Nome in 10-17 days.The trail passes over the Alaska Range and on the Yukon River, which takes the teams west across vast expanses of arctic tundra.
Click here for our Iditarod photos.
For more info, visit the Official Site of the Iditarod: www.iditarod.com
Limited and Open North American Championships
The North American sled dog race has a different spirit than the Iditarod and Yukon Quest because it is a series of sprint races. That is not to say it is easy! The race attracts top sprint mushers from around the world. The Open North American is a combined three day race, which begins in March from downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. The first two days consist of 20 mile heats, and the third day hosts 30 mile heats. Times from the combined races reveal the winner.
The Limited North American Championships (LNAC) is the premiere limited sled dog sprint race in the world, attracting top sprint mushers from North America and beyond. The three day race is run every year in March from the Jeff Studdert Race Grounds in Fairbanks, Alaska. The term "limited" refers to a limit to the number of dogs in a team that may be run in a given class; the race includes 8-dog, 6-dog, and 4-dog competition, and skijoring with one, two, or three dogs.
For more information, visit the Alaska Dog Mushers Association website: www.sleddog.org
Many residents of Alaska mush dogs for fun and pleasure, to run a trap line, access areas for hunting, and an increasing number of people are offering dog sled rides to tourists that come visit Alaska.
A team of dogs requires, training, consistent care, attention and exercise year round. The joys of being in the Alaska wilderness behind a quite team of dogs, hearing the patter of their feet and sounds of their harness--away from snowmachine smoke and noise--is a grand experience.
Links and resources
The broad expansive landscape of Alaska has been traveled by dogseld for centuries. © Patrick J. Endres
Limited North American Championship. Sled dog races held annually in Fairbanks at the Dog Mushers Hall. Four to eight dog teams race from 4 to 10 mile sprint races. © Patrick J. Endres
Dogs bed down on straw at the 101 mile checkpoint and rest stop during the 1000 mile Yukon Quest sled dog race. © Patrick J. Endres
Musher Richie Beattie crosses overflow on Ptarmigan creek near mile 101 checkpoint during the 1000 mile Yukon Quest sled dog race 2006, between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon. © Patrick J. Endres
Yukon Quest musher Hugh Neff in near whiteout conditions crossing Eagle Summit. © Patrick J. Endres
Specific gear is required during the race for both safety and fairness amongst the mushers. © Patrick J. Endres
Lance Mackey leaves the checkpoint of Candle, the halfway point of the 400 mile All Alaska Sweepstakes race. © Patrick J. Endres
Dog Musher Dee Dee Jonrowe leaves the shoot for the 1000 mile 2003 Iditarod sled dog race from Fairbanks to Nome, Alaska . Lack of snow along the normal trail route further south forced the relocation of the restart on the Chena River in Fairbanks. © Patrick J. Endres
The Open North American Championship Race is the oldest continuously run sled dog race of any kind in the world. First run in 1946. © Patrick J. Endres
Dog sledding through the boreal forest. © Patrick J. Endres