Meet the 2020 YQ300 Mushers

TWENTY-FIVE Mushers have signed up for the 2020 YQ300!

1. J. Jay Levy

49-year-old YQ300 Veteran

My sponsors: My job at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital

Nationality: American

From: Chatanika, AK

Occupation(s): RN

Kennel name: Parrotsleds     

Website: https://www.facebook.com/ParrotSleds/ 

Kennel name origin: I am a Jimmy Buffet fan, we are called Parrot Heads. His song, “One Particular Harbor” is about finding your happy place. I have found my happy place in mushing!

Kennel bloodlines: Mix of rescued dogs with a dash of Osmar, Mackey.

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 50

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 9 years

How did you get started running dogs? I was volunteering for APS in NC, I saw too many huskies coming in with bad behaviors and few left. I decided to save a couple. My rescue has re-homed almost 400 dogs, most were deemed un-rehomeable.

What do you love most about running dogs? Solitude.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? As a qualifier for the Yukon Quest 1,000.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Most dogs come to me with names, otherwise my kids pick a theme and name them.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: I have one dog named Amelia. She came to me with a crushed snout. After nine hours into her reconstructive surgery, her heart stopped. They revived her. She was two months old then. Now she is eight years old, has a crooked smile and is missing half of her teeth. She makes me smile no matter what. She has no problem eating  the frozen snacks!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: I don’t have a handler, I live alone.

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: I love how every volunteer always has a smile to greet you, no matter how cold!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 YQ300 – 7th; 2019 Two Rivers 200 – 9th.

2. Nathaniel Hamlyn

25-year-old YQ300 Veteran

My sponsors: Family & Friends

Nationality: Canadian

From: Whitehorse, YT

Occupation: Lands Officer

Kennel name: Step Up Kennel          

Website: http://www.stepupkennels.com/

Kennel name origin: I always aim to improve from year to year. Putting myself and the dogs through experiences to gain confidence and be the best we can be in training and racing. 

Kennel bloodlines: Swingley, Buser

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 16

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 9 years

How did you get started running dogs? My father bought two Siberian Huskies as pets. These two were hooked to a sled and chased the truck or snow machine on the ice road while I "drove" the sled.

What do you love most about running dogs? I love the bond that my dogs and I have that can only come from pursuing a common goal. This bond also allows me to create a lifestyle around the need to explore new terrain, accessing areas that would be near impossible in other ways. Having a kennel is a lifestyle, this is what I really love.

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? DPSAY (Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon)

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I entered the YQ300 to give my younger dogs some experience and to see a part of the Quest trail that I love. Not doing the 1000 mile also allows my wife and I to both race plus enter more races. My goal is to finish with happy healthy dogs and for all of us to learn. Plus, it's cheaper than the 1,000!

What music do you listen to on the trail? Everything but mostly country.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? I bought the core of my team from Warren Palfrey when I switched from Siberians to Alaskans. I still have these guys and their naming theme is non-existent. A few highlights: PK, Kirsten, Tara, KC. I try to name my pups after things I enjoy; guns, trees etc.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Back before the start of my first Yukon Quest, I had four leaders to start the race with. After coming down Rosebud too fast I had to drop two of them. That left me with two leaders for over 800 miles, or so I thought. I by chance put KC in lead when one of those two got tired. She surprisingly did very well. She went on to lead for over half of the race from never running lead before. Then a year later (2019) she started and finished the race as one of my all-star leaders, finishing in Fairbanks after emerging off the wet river through a snowstorm. I could see the pride in her face and I have enjoyed watching her confidence grow. 

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: I have never had a handler and have the pleasure of sharing this sport with my indispensable wife. We will be training together this winter. 

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: There are way too many great memories to pick one. Every checkpoint on the Quest has wonderful volunteers who make you feel like a king even if you are dead last. 

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Yukon Quest - 10th, 2018 Yukon Quest - 13th, 2017 YQ300 - 3rd.

3. Will Troshynski

34-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: Jeanne and Jerry Troshynski, ATAO VIP, Buddy Brigade and Monster Sponsors, Out of a Jam Solutions

Nationality: American

From: Two Rivers, AK

Occupation(s): IT Support Tech

Kennel name: ATAO Kennel (pronounced Ah-Tay-Oh)     

Website: https://www.ataokennel.com

Kennel name origin: ATAO stands for Adventure, Truth, Accountability, Onward, which encompasses our philosophy about mushing and life!

Kennel bloodlines:  Buser, Currier

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 20

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 19 years

How did you get started running dogs? I learned to mush from Martin Buser as a 14-year-old, when I ran my first Jr. Iditarod.

What do you love most about running dogs? I love the bond with the team. It’s amazing what a happy group of dogs can achieve.

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? Two Rivers Dog Mushing Association

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? We are working towards running the Iditarod in 2021 and the Yukon Quest 1,000 mile in 2022. The YQ300 will help my young team build towards these goals.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? We name our litters in themes, so far we have a Star Wars and a Butch Cassidy litter.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: My team has a special feature – they bark while they run! If they see a light, a human or when they start running up a hill, the whole team starts barking!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: ATAO wouldn’t be here without our amazing handler Sarah. She loves the dogs like they are hers and had helped them become the happiest team on the trail!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Copper Basin 330 – 31st; 2016 Northern Lights 300 – 8th; 2016 Copper Basin 300 – 13th.

4. Vickie Justice

25-year-old YQ300 Rookie

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks, AK

Occupation: Fairbanks DOT

Kennel name: All Alaskan Kennel       

Kennel name origin: I took over my grandma’s kennel name.

Kennel bloodlines: Osmar, Sass, Mackey

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 23

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? Since I was little.

How did you get started running dogs? My grandma, she ran dog tours for over 20 years. She passed the addiction on to me.

What do you love most about running dogs? Everything, from the bond of raising your own puppies to watching them turn into amazing little athletes.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I think it’s an amazing race/organization. I handled for the 1,000 last year and really enjoyed it. I’d just like to have fun with my dogs while we all learn and experience something new.

What music do you listen to on the trail? A little bit of everything.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Either by personality or by category/themed names.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: I will be racing eight of my own puppies that I raised and trained, so I am excited to see what they are capable of!

5. Dave Turner

49-year-old YQ300 Rookie

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks, AK

Occupation(s): Musher

Kennel name: Racing Chaos 

Website: https://www.facebook.com/dave.turner.31  

Kennel name origin: Named after one of my first dogs, named Chaos.

Kennel bloodlines: Swingley, Rivest, Cook

Breeds: Alaskan Husky, Pointer

Number of dogs in kennel:40

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 15 years

How did you get started running dogs? Skijoring with my Malamute mix, Orcus.

What do you love most about running dogs? My dogs and the people

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? Adventure and learning experience. My goal is to finish with a happy-looking team.

What music do you listen to on the trail? EDM, heavy metal

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? It’s a grueling process to come up with names that I like, it’s usually a theme.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Most of my team are from a few litters. Pluto and Ocean are my superstar leaders.

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: At The Pas in Manitoba, they hand out beers at all the road crossings on the last day of the race!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Tustumena 200 – 1st (2017 and 2018 – 3rd); 2018 Knik 200 – 3rd (2017 – 15th); 2018 Fur Rondy – 14th; 2017 Alaska Excursions 120 – 1st

6. Paul Hamlyn

53-year-old YQ300 Veteran

My sponsors: Sky High Wilderness Ranch

Nationality: Canadian

From: Whitehorse, YT

Occupation(s): Dog sled tour guide/Park Ranger

Kennel name: North of 60 Mushing    

Kennel name origin: North of 60 has always been where we are in our element.

Kennel bloodlines: Ed Hopkins mostly

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel:12

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 15 years

How did you get started running dogs? It was always a deep interest. I bought 3 dogs and it quickly became a passion adding experienced dogs.

What do you love most about running dogs? Being in the wilderness alone with my dogs and enjoying nature.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? My goal is to finish with a healthy team.

What music do you listen to on the trail? None, I enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? My litter from Ed Hopkins, they all have Yukon trail names.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: I had one dog named Kodiac, who while running lead caught a ptarmigan in mid-air and ate it before I had a chance to hook down, stop and run up to him.

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 YQ300 - 5th, 2019 Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Race - 10th.

7. Kelby Dillon

30-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: Sea Fur Sewing; Canalena; Can’t Stop Kennels

Nationality: American

From: Girdwood, AK

Occupation(s): Carpenter; Heavy machine operator

Kennel name: Can’t Stop Kennel      

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Arts---Entertainment/Cant-stop-kennels-sled-dog-racing-team-1414826402083539/

Kennel name origin: Can’t Stop…Won’t Stop

Kennel bloodlines: King, Holmes, Riley

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 60

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 4 years.

What do you love most about running dogs? I love spending time in the Wilderness with my dogs.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I entered to win for a great experience with a healthy and happy team!

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Jessie Holmes named them.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Flash won the YQ300 in lead with Jessie Holmes in 2016.

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: Jessie Holmes – He won the race in record time four years ago.

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2018 - Copper Basin 300 – DNF at mile 290.

8. Misha Wiljes

51-year-old YQ300 Veteran

My sponsors: ManMat; Family; Friends; Dog and Kennel Sponsors

Nationality: Czech/American

From: Willow, AK

Occupation: Clerk

Racing name: WW Kennel     

Racing name origin: W W is short for “Wiljes from Willow”

Dog bloodlines: King, Redington

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs: 20

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 19 years

How did you get started running dogs?  By handling for Charlie Boulding.

What do you love most about running dogs? Being with my best dog friends out on the trail as a team!

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? Willow Dog Musher Association

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? To finish, preferably slightly better than in 2011 and 2013.

What music do you listen to on the trail? I do prefer to listen to the sounds of the wilderness.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Most of our dogs came with their names. If we change or need to choose a new one, we do this according to their personality which is possible due to the smallness off our kennel.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: We have one special dog named Atlas, whom we found five years ago in the Mat-Su animal shelter. He has beautiful blue eyes. He is not afraid of water, whether it’s a puddle, stream or river. He has three 1,000 mile races under his belt!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: My husband is the best and only handler. He is also my mechanic and woodworker.

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: Volunteers. Vets and Race Officials are the essentials of the race, without them the race wouldn’t take place. They always give great mental support when you are in need! The Vets are super helpful and treat the dogs with great knowledge and empathy.

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019Yukon Quest 1,000 – 26th; 2018 Iditarod – 45th; 2017 Iditarod – 54th; 2012 YQ 1,000 – 17th; 2011 YQ300 - 7th.

9.Lauro Eklund

24-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: Yukon River Camp; Northern Alaska Tour Company; Coldfoot Camp; My wallet!

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks, Alaska

Occupation(s): Musher, Guide

Kennel name: Skookum Expeditions   

Website: https://www.skookumexpeditions.com/        

Kennel name origin: We are just always like the name, Skookum – an old Indian name meaning “good” or “solid”. It’s the name of the touring side of our kennel as well.

Kennel bloodlines: Erhart, Lance Mackey, Garnie

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 27

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 5 years

How did you get started running dogs? I started running dogs when I bought my first dog, Annie, from Lester Erhart’s dog yard in Tanana, a village on the Yukon River. My old man had dogs for years. Along with my brothers, he used dogs primarily for working trap lines, trips and the Iditarod. I grew up hearing dog stories from my dad and his friends about running dogs. These stories gave me the inspiration to have my own dog team.

What do you love most about running dogs? Being out on the land with them.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race?  My main goal really is to see some of the Yukon Quest trail and of course finish so that this race will be a qualifier for the Yukon Quest 1,000 mile race. The main thing for me is just to finish with a happy team.

What music do you listen to on the trail? Bluegrass, Folk or none at all.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Whatever pops up in my head!

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Most of my guys are somewhat related, same mom, different stud. Most will be from my very first litter, so it’s nice to think that some hair-brained idea that I dreamt up in a cabin on the Yukon River, before these guys even opened their eyes, has taken me this far!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2017 Two Rivers 200 – second to last place; 2016 Two  Rivers 100 – last place; 2015 Solstice 50.

10. Jennifer LaBar

37-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: Family; Friends; Big Dan Trucking

Nationality: American

From: Healy, AK

Occupation(s): Denali Park Trail Crew; Owner of Dogsled Tour Company – Rockin’ Ridge Kennel

Kennel name:  Rockin’ Ridge Kennel

Website: https://www.rockinridgekennel.com/   

Kennel name origin: When I moved to Rock Ridge, I got serious about building a kennel.

Kennel bloodlines: King and Little/Osmar

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 25

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 9 years

How did you get started running dogs? I landed a job running dogs for Sonny Lindner.

What do you love most about running dogs? Just being in the beautiful outdoors with my best friends and being self-reliant.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I entered the YQ300 to challenge myself and enjoy a new adventure with my dogs. My goal is to finish with happy and healthy dogs

What music do you listen to on the trail? I don’t listen to music much on the trail but when I do, it’s old rock or something peppy.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Some came to me with names already and the others are named after places that I want to go (Himalayan Peaks), places I have been and other cool adventures.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: A friend gave me a dog that was too fast for his team and she has turned into the matriarch of my kennel. I have 12 of her puppies, many of them make up my current race team and the others will join the future team.

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: It’s not just one story about my good friend and handler, Jess. It’s her invaluable trait of having a consistent, cool, calm and collected nature. She is always up for anything too, trail or no trail.

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: The checkpoint manager in Dawson City had my passport delivered to my hotel in Whitehorse after I left it in the hotel in Dawson City!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2018 Two Rivers 100 – 5th and Vet’s Choice; 2017 Copper Basin 300 Finisher!

11. Susannah Tuminelli

25-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: Kathy Frederick, Alaska Ice Field Expeditions

Nationality: American

From: Willow, AK

Occupation(s): Dog Musher/Handler, Glacier Tour Guide

Kennel name: Shameless Huskies (owned by Kathy Fredrick) 

Website: https://www.facebook.com/outdoorslass/ 

Kennel name origin: "Shameless Huskies" named for Kathy Fredrick's original all-female team from when her kennel first began.

Kennel bloodlines: King, Seavey

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 27

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 4 years

How did you get started running dogs?  I began running dogs in the Northwoods of Minnesota, working with Chilly Dogs, retired race dogs and leading multi-day camping trips for Northern Tier High Adventure, in Ely's BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness)

What do you love most about running dogs? Being able to provide these incredible athletes a channel in which to perform the way they were born to do is what I love most. The passion these dogs have inspire me to become the best musher I can. I love exploring new places and seeing new country with my best friends.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I hoping to use the YQ300 as one of two more qualifiers that I need in order to compete in the Iditarod. For this race, I aiming to finish with happy and healthy dogs.

What music do you listen to on the trail? All sorts! Some favorites include Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out”, Elvis’ “Hound Dog”, and of course Taylor Swift for long night runs.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Kathy Fredrick (dogs’ owner) chose names in themes such as Alaska towns, car types, and even a Halloween litter.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Tiny Tesla, an epic leader with a need for speed, loves lounging in the sun, running next to her much larger co-lead Homer and keeping this musher warm during rests in the sled!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: Adam Lindenmuth, a Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail-through hiker, turned dog musher. He loves three things most in life: 1. Dogs 2. Tacos (for breakfast), and 3. Unnecessarily dramatic steering poses around fast corners during training runs.

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: During my first official race, the Tustumena 200, it became clear at the last checkpoint that I was likely going to finish last. All of the volunteers there were amazing, helpful and supper supportive to get me and the dogs to the finish line!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Race (200) – 10th; 2019 Two Rivers 100 – 4th; 2019 Tustumena 200 – Red Lantern; 2018 Ace Race, Denali Highway

12. Karolyn Bristol

28-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: SP Kennel (Aliy and Allen); My Family

Nationality: American

From: Merrimack, NH

Occupation(s): Tour Guide/Handler

Kennel name:  SP Kennel      

Website: https://spkennel.com/

Kennel name origin: Names Skunk's Place Kennel after Aliy's first sled dog.

Kennel bloodlines: SP Kennel

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 51

 Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 4 years

How did you get started running dogs? I reached out to Aliy my senior year of college asking what she would recommend to someone who wanted to get into dog mushing. She invited me to come up and spend a month with them. I was hooked!

What do you love most about running dogs? Spending one-on-one time with the dogs.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I entered to work towards the Iditarod and YQ1,000 and I'll be happy just getting to the finish line with happy and healthy dogs!

What music do you listen to on the trail? Anything with a good beat or fun lyrics, a lot of Broadway musicals!

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? My first dog, Kenobi became mine on May 4th, Star Wars Day.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Some of these dogs are from the first litter of puppies that I ever helped deliver, the coffee litter, who are now four years old!

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? Two Rivers Dog Mushing Association

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Two Rivers 100 - 5th.

13. Chad Stoddard

32-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: (Lance Mackey) Come Back Kennel

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks, AK

Occupation(s): Guide

Kennel name:  Come Back Kennel; Mackey's All-In Racing    

Website: https://www.facebook.com/comebackkennel/

Kennel name origin: Lance Mackey

Kennel bloodlines: Mackey

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 40

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 6 years

How did you get started running dogs? I started in 2014 working for Iditarod Veteran Billy Snodgrass in Wyoming.

What do you love most about running dogs? I love traveling with the dogs and being with them in the Wilderness. There is always something new to learn. Overcoming things together, as a team.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I entered the YQ300 to learn and grow alongside my team. I hope to finish this race as a qualifier for the Yukon Quest 1,000 and the Iditarod. My goals are to finish with a happy and healthy team, to the best of our abilities.

What music do you listen to on the trail? Last winter it was Radiohead, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Blackwater Railroad, Infamous, String Dusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Waylon Jennings, Trampled by Turtles or nothing at all.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Some are named after the Alaska Sweepstakes Race and some have an electric theme because of their mother, Electra.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: They are Lance Mackey's dogs that I have raised and trained since they were a few months old.

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Alpine 65 - 7th; 2019 Solstice 50 - 18th; 2019 Eureka Lodge 156 - 8th.

14. Eddie Burke Jr.

30-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: Sled Dog Systems, Willow Customs, Table 200 Mushing Insider

Nationality: American

From: Anchorage, AK

Occupation: Operator for Solid Waste Services

Kennel name:  Sled Dog Systems Racing

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 40

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 2 years

How did you get started running dogs? My good friend, Dakota Schlosses, invited me on a training run one day and I've been hooked ever since!

What do you love most about running dogs? I love the bond with the dogs, the wilderness and overcoming everything Mother Nature throws at us.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I entered this race because this is what I love. My goals are to finish with happy and healthy dogs.

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? I am the CEO of the World's Most Prestigious Sled Dog News Organization, "Table 200 Mushing Insider"

What music do you listen to on the trail? I like my beats fast and my bass down low.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Coach is my all-star lead dog. As a puppy, he showed very little promise in becoming a sled dog. I would call Coach a 'late bloomer', but as time goes on, he has turned into the leader of the team.

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: I don't have a handler but Dakota Schlosses has been my right hand man since day one.

15. Benjamin Good

40-year-old YQ300 Veteran

My sponsors: My wife

Nationality: American

From: North Pole, AK

Occupation: Petroleum Refinery Lab Manager

Kennel name:  Good Alaska Mushing Company

Website: https://www.facebook.com/goodalaskamushing/

Kennel name origin: My name, the place I live, what I do.

Kennel bloodlines: Burmeister

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 24

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 11 years

How did you get started running dogs? I started by skijoring with a yellow lab retriever.

What do you love most about running dogs? I love the Alaska lifestyle, the dogs, raising pups, the challenges of winter travel.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? I love the people and the energy that surrounds the Yukon Quest, the dogs, the challenges of the trail...Rosebud and Eagle Summit, Birch Creek. Central Corner bar is the best place to be in Alaska on the first weekend in February. (Fairbanks start, even-numbered years)

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? TRMA Two Rivers Mushing Association

What music do you listen to on the trail? None

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Themes. Sometimes inspired by my kids. Latest litter is named after the kids' TV show 'Paw Patrol'...Zuma, Rocky, Rebel. Ryder.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: My main leader, Popy, is all business. We have a yellow lab named Kobuk, who is a full-time pet. When Kobuk was a puppy his favorite toy was a stuffed fox with a squeaker in it. Popy came in from a training run one afternoon, gave Kobuk the stink-eye, walked over and picked up the stuffed toy, chewed it in half and spit it out, then walked away. Popy doesn't have time for nonsense except for belly rubs, as to her belly rubs are not considered nonsense!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: In 2018, in Central, I couldn't sleep so I got up and went out to the team before my wake-up call. Handlers aren't allowed in the sleeping area. My handler, Drew couldn't find me and had three volunteers searching for me. He was paranoid that I had missed my wake-up call!

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: In the 2018 YQ300 it was a close race to the finish line. Traditionally the finish line is when you pull up beside the Central Bar. Barb Moore realized we needed an actual finish line so she rallied the townt...so the finish line was red spray paint across the road!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Two Rivers 200 - 3rd; 2018 Alpine Creek Excursion - 3rd; 2018 Yukon Quest 300 - 1st; 2018 Copper Basin - 14th; 2017 Yukon Quest - 13th.

16. Joe Taylor

27-year-old YQ300 Rookie

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks, AK

Occupation: Guide, Animal Care Technician

Kennel name:  Mushing Malarkey

Kennel name origin: My good friend and fellow musher Jacob Witkop, has an art for re-naming my dogs. One of my leaders, Meloz, who has a rock for a hand and a face only a mother could love, became Malarkey very early on to Jacob. He is a particulary goofy and senseless dog, yet I love him The name represents our, sometimes less-serious, but always fun, approach to the sport.

Kennel bloodlines: The Melting Pot - King, Zirkle, Erhart, Hall

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 14

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 3 years

How did you get started running dogs? I worked with sprint musher Arleigh Reynolds for a summer exercise science project and I was hooked from then on. I learned a lot about conditioning dogs from Arleigh, but those dogs are too fast! I like to sip coffee while standing on the runners.

What do you love most about running dogs? Some of my favorite mushing memories are being out on the remote trails and camping with my dogs in beautiful spots. I really love the process of training and conditioning, that stretches us to do these trips. I love putting the time in training dogs and watching them respond. Watching them grow is extremely rewarding and what I love most about this sport.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race? My goal this year is to show the dogs and myself the trail and keep them happy and healthy. Last year, we were trained and ready to go for a couple of 200 mile races that were cancelled or postponed, so we are excited to race this year!

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? TRMA - Two Rivers Mushing Association

What music do you listen to on the trail? I listen to a wide range of podcasts but will throw on some Queen, Dave Mathews Band or pop hits occasionally.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Most of my dogs came with names. The dogs I have named, I've received endless criticism for from friends, so I am excited to have a litter and think of some new and even more sillier names for them.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Kevin is one of my yearlings that I'm really excited about. I got him as a puppy from Ware Marrs. As Kevin grew up, I became concerned about a few things. I realized he wasn't really learning his name (long after the other pups had it down) and he was always running into things and tripping on stuff. It turned out that Kevin is just a total bonehead and canine wrecking ball. He becomes full-tilt in harness and now that he knows his name, you'd better watch out when you call him because he will come at you full-speed!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: I am a one-man operation!

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: Words of encouragement and a high-five from volunteers goes a long way. I appreciate that they are standing out in the cold to keep things safe for us.

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2019 Solstice 50 - 19th.

17. Cody Waterbury

25-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My sponsors: Husky Homestead; AIH; Redpaw; Kaladi Brother's Coffee; Usibelli Coal Mine; Inlet Tower Hotel and Suites; Howling Dog Alaska; Tara Cicatello.

Nationality: American

From: New Port Richey, FL

Occupation: Dog Handler and Tour Guide

Kennel name:  Husky Homestead

Website: https://huskyhomestead.com/

Kennel name origin: I work for Jeff King and will be running under his kennel name.

Kennel bloodlines: King

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 36

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 3 years

How did you get started running dogs? I came up from Florida for a summer job at Husky Homestead and ended up staying for the winter. I learned how to run dogs that first winter, stayed for another summer and then opted for a break. Over my time away, I realized how much I missed it, so I'm back at it!!

What do you love most about running dogs? I love watching the puppies grow into themselves and become sled dogs. I love the Alaskan wilderness and the bond gained between humans and their animals.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Jeff King let me name two of the pups from his "Cinco de Mayo" litter; Luna and Sol. I'm hoping that they will be the lead dogs for my race since I was involved in raising them. I trained and harness-broke the Cinco de Mayo litter my first winter here, so it will be great to see them racing after having the opportunity to spend so much time with them.

What music do you listen to on the trail? I listen to Folk and Bluegrass if I'm feeling calm; Hip-Hop if I need a confidence boost; and Punk if Ineed to get pumped!

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? We usually put them in themes by litter and all our staff also submit their ideas to Jeff.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: To finish with a strong, happy and healthy dog team. And to be warm! Ideally this race will be my first qualifier for the Iditarod in 2021!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: I’m not sure you who will be handling for me yet, but I know they will do a great job and I’ll be fortunate to have them helping me out.

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: I have never been on the trail, but I am looking forward to some great experiences on the trail with them!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2017 Alpine Creek Excursions Race - 14th place.

18. Ryan Freedman

30-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My Sponsors: Dave Dalton and Alaska Heli-Mush Tours

Nationality: American

From: Nenana, AK

Occupation: Tour Guide and Winter Dog Tours

Kennel name:  YoopAK Kennels

Website: http://www.yoopakkennelandtours.com/

Kennel name origin: I was given the trail name YoopAK (you-pack) on the Appalachian Trail because fellow hikers said all of my stories stemmed from Alaska and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Yoopers).

Kennel bloodlines: Dalton

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 14

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 10 years

How did you get started running dogs? By chance. I ws doing yard work for a woman in Michigan and she asked if I wanted to help with her kennel.

What do you love most about running dogs? The journey with the dogs. Seeing untouched places with the dogs. I love working together as a team to reach new places. 

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: A special member of this year's team is Katahdin. He is a three and-a-half year old superstar and was the first puppy my wife and I had from our own breeding. He LOVES single lead. He will be running this year with his two half-brothers, Willie and Hank Jr., who are Quest finishers. His two cousins, Flash and Voltage, will be along for the run!

What music do you listen to on the trail? I listen to upbeat or Christian music.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? My wife and I come up with different themes. We have siblings from the "Lightning" litter; "Lonesome Dove" litter and "Country Singer" litter.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: I entered the race in order to experience the trail and journey with the dogs. Our goals are to finish happy and healthy with a big team.

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: We have no handlers. Mushing is a family affair that I do along with my wife and four young boys.

19. Leigh Strehlow Pagel

31-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My Sponsors: My husband, Family and Friends

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks, AK

Kennel name:  Howls Moving Kennels

Website: https://www.howlsmovingkennel.com/

Kennel name origin: I was inspired by a book with similarities to our Quest: Finding our place, without conflict.

Kennel bloodlines: Moore, Mackey

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 19

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 5 years

How did you get started running dogs? The Cheechako Race during the April Races in Tanana got me hooked and my best friend helped me get addicted!

What do you love most about running dogs? Just being out there...The freedom of being out there on the trail or in the wide open along with the teamwork that transpires between myself and my dogs.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: All of my dogs, except one are related or siblings. I will have a Big Family of dogs running together on the race. I'm excited to have my First Litter of two-year-olds running in the race too.

What music do you listen to on the trail? I listen to Reggae, EDM and Country.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? I have a "Space Theme" happening with Star Wars and the crew from Futurama (not planned)! Also a "Food Theme" seems to be taking over. I usually use a theme inspired by the parents or try to keep theme names with littermates (Ham and Egg).

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: I entered the race in order to experience the Quest and to finish with happy and healthy dogs.

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: After 15-hour shifts, in the rain, with freezing temps, he helps me do what I love daily and every "turd" he scoops shows me how much he loves me!

20. Luther Buhr

27-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My Sponsors: Dan and Chris Turner; Alaska Icefield Expeditions, Riley Dyche, Dan and Kara Buhr.

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks, AK

Kennel name:  Dark Horse Racing Kennel

Website: https://www.darkhorsesleddogs.com/

Kennel bloodlines: Hayashida, Swingley, Hall, Eaton

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 30

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 7 years

How did you get started running dogs? I had a canoe guide who was also a musher when I was 15. Speaking with him about mushing sparked my interest in the sport. I dabbled with mushing a little in 2012. In 2013, I made the move to Fairbanks to chase my mushing dreams. Since then I've handled for Sven Haltmann, Matt Hall and Riley Dyche, plus I started to breed my own team!

What do you love most about running dogs? The dogs plus their love, passion and enthusiasm. I love watching young dogs develop into top-tier athletes.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: My YQ300 team will be a mix of Riley Dyche's yearlings and a few of my own yearlings, so I'm very, very excited about that!

What music do you listen to on the trail? Everything from Tupac and Biggie to The Black Keys and Trampled by Turtles. Audio books are also a staple to my training season.

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Riley's yearlings consist of the "Lord of the Rings" litter and "The Triple Crown" litter. Riley loves the Lord of the Rings books and The Triple Crown pups were born around the time Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018. My personal yearlings are the "Canoe Brand" litter (Old Town, Wenonah and Seliga). I've always had a strong love of being on the water.

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: I entered this race to give these yearlings a quality learning experience. My goal is to get 14 happy wagging tails across the finish line!

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: I am the 'indispensible handler'...haha...that has a nice ring to it!

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: I've been involved with the Yukon Quest for a few years now and I've never had a bad experience with a volunteer! Everybody has always been super happy and helpful!

List recent sled dog races and/or best performances: 2017 Two Rivers 200 - 11th place; 2016 Copper Basin 300 - 25th place.

21. Claudia Wickert

38-year-old YQ300 Veteran

Nationality: German

From: Whitehorse, YT

Kennel name:  Fox Creek Kennel

Kennel name origin: We live near Fox Creek.

Kennel bloodlines: Kleedehn, Gatt

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 25

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 12 years

How did you get started running dogs? As a guide.

What do you love most about running dogs? I love spending time on the trail with my amazing dogs. 

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: My team will be a mix of experienced dogs and a few younger dogs that haven't raced much yet. Most of them were born in our kennel and are related to each other. I am looking forward to spending lots of time training and racing with them. 

What music do you listen to on the trail? None. 

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? We usually pick a theme for each litter. 

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: I hope to make it to the finish line with happy and healthy dogs and be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

List recent sled dog races: 2019 - Silver Sled 100, 2017 - YQ300, 2016 - Two Rivers 200, 2015 - YQ 300 

 

22. Sean Underwood

28-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My Sponsors: Husky Homestead, AIH, Redpaw, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, Usibelli Coal Mine, Inlet Tower Hotel & Suites, Howling Dog Alaska, Kate Underwood, Kailyn Fitts

Nationality: American

From: Atlanta, GA

Website: www.mushsean.com / www.huskyhomestead.com 

Kennel name:  Husky Homestead

Kennel name origin: I work for Jeff King, and will be running under his kennel name.

Kennel bloodlines: King

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 36

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 4 years

How did you get started running dogs? I came up to Alaska to commercial fish with my uncle, aunt and cousin out of Kodiak Island. After two summers of fishing, I wanted to stay up here for a winter, so my family introduced me to their friend Jeff King - and he took a chance on me. 

What do you love most about running dogs? The peace and quiet of your team moving down the trail, the scenery and the places you get to see, and of course the bond with the dogs. 

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: We have a number of dogs between two and four years of age that are hitting their prime. I'm excited to see that process in their development leading up to the race. 

What music do you listen to on the trail? Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band, or I just listen to the dogs. 

Are you a member of any other organizations involved in sled dog sports? Dog Powered Sports Association of Yukon (DPSAY)

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? We pick themes for each litter. 

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: I wanted to see new country. I also handled for the 2018 Yukon Quest, and ever since then, it has been on my mind. 

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: It's me that's the handler - haha!

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: During the Tustemena race, a woman came up to me as I was taking care of the dogs. I was kind of ignoring her because I was busy with the dogs. She asked me what my name was, and I mumbled my answer. She said, "Nice to meet you, I'm Libby Riddles." 

List recent sled dog races: 2016 Alpine Creek Excursions Race - Finished, 2017 Tustumena 200 - 14th, 2018 Copper Basin 300 - 24th

 

23. Jeremy Traska

29-year-old YQ300 Rookie

My Sponsors: Alaska Icefield Expeditions, Juelie Traska, John Traska

Nationality: American

From: Two Rivers

Website: www.howlingridgekennel.com

Kennel name:  Howling Ridge Kennel 

Kennel name origin: My wife named the kennel when she started the team as a young girl. the dog yard sat on a small ridge and the dogs loved to howl. 

Kennel bloodlines: Our own/Chezik/Hall

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 44

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 7 years

How did you get started running dogs? I got a job working for a summer tour guiding company in Juneau and I've been hooked on mushing ever since. 

What do you love most about running dogs? I love spending every day with the dogs and travelling across Alaska with them. 

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Impluse and Velocity are siblings that I've raised from birth. When they were puppies, they loved to come inside and cuddle on the couch with me. Now, as adults, they love it when I nap with them in the straw while resting on the trail. I'm sure they will be ready to cuddle when we get over Rosebud and Eagle Summits!

What music do you listen to on the trail? A little bit of everything. 

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? Themes that have a special meaning to us. 

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: I entered to gain more race experience as I prepare to run the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest within the next few years. 

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: My wife and I run our kennel without any extra help, so we are each other's handlers. I have handled for her twice on this race and this year she will be raking up my straw. Thanks, Shaynee!

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: All of the volunteers we meet along the trail are awesome because they allow us to do what we love. 

List recent sled dog races: 2017 Two Rivers 200 - 5th, 2019 Copper Basin 300 - 12th 

 

24. Joanna Jagow

26-year-old YQ300 Veteran

My Sponsors: Paul & Dawn Jagow, Ess Family, Bill & Sandy McKee

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks

Website: www.motleycrewsleddogkennel.com

Kennel name:  Motley Crew

Kennel name origin: I have my mom to thank partly for my kennel name. My team started out literally as a motley crew, I had big pups, little pups etc. My mom is a fan of heavy rock asked me "why don't you name your kennel Motley Crew?" and the name stuck!

Kennel bloodlines: Cadzow, Kleedehn, Mackey

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 32

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? Since I was old enough to stand on the back of a sled.

How did you get started running dogs? I grew up running dogs. My folks used sled dogs as transportation instead of a snow machine on our trapline cabin on the Porcupine River. I was hooked at around age seven. 

What do you love most about running dogs? I love sharing adventures and getting to see beautiful places with my four-legged friends.

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: I'm hoping that several of the Aleutian Island pups that are now two years old will be running in this year's race alongside their mama Rajah. 

What music do you listen to on the trail? All different kinds! From folk to rap to country. 

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? I like to pick themes for litters, so far I have an Aleutian Island litter, an airplane litter, and a rivers litter. 

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: To finish with a strong, happy team. 

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: My friend Emma handled for me during the Copper Basin last year and insisted that I go up to the lodge and grab a bite to eat. When I came back she was resting on a pile of straw by the dogs making sure they were all ok. Such dedication my friend!

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: So many great experiences with volunteers! One great memory was in Eagle for Percy DeWolfe, the volunteers wouldn't allow mushers to get their own food and insisted that they serve everyone a huge delicious meal. Talk about being spoiled!

List recent sled dog races: 2019 Goosebay 150 - 2nd, 2019 Copper Basin 300 - 11th, 2018 YQ300 - 2nd, 2018 TR 100 - 1st

 

25. John Dixon

46-year-old YQ300 Veteran

Nationality: American

From: Fairbanks

Kennel name:  Stormy Ridge Kennel

Kennel name origin: Named after the matriarch of our kennel - Stormy. 

Breeds: Alaskan Husky

Number of dogs in kennel: 40

Musher Question and Answer

How many years have you been running dogs? 20

How did you get started running dogs? I always dreamed of moving to Alaska from Texas to become a dog musher... so I did.

What do you love most about running dogs? Watching them develop into a confident team. 

Please share with us some stories about your dogs: Bo, one of Stormy's pups, he just gets it and is a super happy dog. Just as comfortable on the trail as he is on the couch at home with my kids. 

What music do you listen to on the trail? I don't. I like listening to what's going on around me. 

How did your dogs get their names/ How do you choose names? My kids name most of them now. Usually, they pick a theme. Such as Bo, Luke, Daisy and Roscoe (Dukes of Hazzard litter). 

Why did you enter the 2020 YQ300 and what are your goals for the race: I want to use the race to train some young dogs and give them some experience on a pretty tough 300-mile race. 

Share a quick story about one of your indispensable Handlers: My wife and kids handled for me on the YQ300 in 2016. It's really cool to see my whole family at checkpoints. 

Tell us about your favorite experience with a volunteer on the trail: The vets are great. I really like to pick their brains for dog care tips and info. They are an awesome resource and really care. 

List recent sled dog races: 2016 YQ300, 2016 TR200, 2000 Iditarod - 48th.