Newsflash ... Akela's Den!
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Winter Newsflash 2008:
Winter News March 9th, 2008,
BROTHERS COME HOME WITH FIRST PLACE AND BEST KEPT TEAM AWARD.
We still have tonnes of snow but I figured with the day time temperatures rising to a nice -5*C it feels like spring is not to far away!
Some of you have been able to follow the 2008 Canadian Challenge and seen that Akela’s Den came in as co-champion with Rick Wannamaker out of Alberta. After some great articles in the Saskatchewan newspapers and people saying that it was our year, we started the Challenge with some pressure on our shoulders. Could it really be our year? Would be nice after 7 tries, it was about time we could bring the cup home! (Bart could breathe a little better because his job was bringing as many yearlings over the finish as possible.???)
I don’t know if this race is cursed for a cold start, but the first night people measured -40’s, yet I was glad we had no wind to deal with like last year. We rethought our strategy and cancelled our first camping trips because of cold weather - but the dogs handled the weather great. Both of us had a very fast run all the way to Weyakwin, and Stefaan even surprised the checkers pulling in way before they expected the first team. Finally the weather was warming up a bit for musher and dog!
Soon enough Stefaan knew who he was competing against, and coming into La Ronge found he was not too far off Rick, with Kolby still several hours behind. The battle would be fought between the 3 of us. Sleep deprivation and a mix up in interpreting the rules caused Stefaan to pull out 8 min early on his 8 hour mandatory rest, which then cost him a 30 minute time penalty. Which he accepted once realizing his mistake!
On the 50 mile run to Stanley Mission, Stefaan made up the majority of the time and even arrived in before Rick, who was beginning to have a harder time keeping some speed in his dogs. That’s when Stefaan knew that if he could keep his team together, he had this one in his pocket!!
After a rest in Stanley Mission, Stefaan was the only musher that ever pulled out of the checkpoint and went on to Grand Mother’s Bay and back. This was a very confusing section of trail, with a serious lack of trail markers and some blowing snow. That’s when Stefaan’s Buser dog, Bewitched, came through for him and brought an awesome team back to Stanley! Yet the Race Marshal decided to call off the race at Stanley Mission, because of the forecast and poor marking of the trail. To make a long story short and not to mention a lot of discussions, there was a co-championship announced. Stefaan was very happy with that first place position, yet would have liked to cross that finish line instead!
Bart in the meantime was having a great race all the way to La Ronge, despite the fact he had to drop some of his main leaders. He did call it quiets in La Ronge, mostly due to poor marking of the trail, and the need of a good leader to stay on track. Bart did depart La Ronge in an effort to reach Sucker River, yet because of the already mentioned issues and out of safety for the rest of the dogs he returned back to La Ronge and scratched. That demonstration of care and concern for his dogs over the need to finish, impressed the vets and lead him to win the award for best taken care of team (usually only awarded to teams that complete the race). So both teams came home with exciting and well deserved awards!!!
We are now already planning for next year…!
A BIG Thank-you to Horizon Manufacturing and Bruno Feeds as our main Sponsors! Also BIG Thank-you’s to Brittney Clark, Earl Stobbe and Dean Depape for handling and driving during the race! And a BIG Thank-you to all of you for supporting us before, during and after the race!
Winter Newsflash 2008:
Winter News January 29, 2008,
Looking outside the window it is calm and the sun is coming, but when I take a peek at the thermometer it is -36°C and a breeze makes it bitterly cold. Not one dog is running around in the yard and the same for us! I am glad that I have things to do in the house.
I left off on the last flash that we had a good 8" of snow. Well, that snow kept coming and coming and so by November 21st we were on the sled, a week sooner than last year. Most of the dogs took the transition good. It was time to start cranking up the miles. Some of Bart's yearlings were dropped during this process but he is still running the majority of them. My team is holding up great and we are chewing up the miles.
Christmas was a busy time for us! We were working for Sundogs Sled Excursions pretty much 2 weeks straight. We made sure we took X-mas day off to celebrate with the family. Our first races of the year, The Lakeland Derby and the Snow Dog Romp, Stefaan won and Bart came in 3rd. Our biggest test was the Neckbone. It ran on the new Challenge trail, so it was great to see what to look forward to for the upcoming Canadian Challenge. We started the first day in Stanley Mission at -36°C. Bart and Stefaan were glad there was no wind to make it even colder. Both had a very good first day; with Stefaan coming in first before Gerry Walker and Bart. The rest of the field was way behind. It was between the 3 of us to mush for first place. Day 2 we took off at the Creighton Junction and had another 50 miles to go before the finish. Weather warmed up a bit and by mid-day we ended up on Montreal lake with the 3 teams all within eyesight on each other. Both, Stefaan and Bart were happy how their team charged in the wind. 2nd day came to an end just like the first day and Stefaan could hold up the trophy again after 2 years. Most of all, we were happy with the performance of the dogs and all 20 came home happy.
Now we are 2 weeks before the Challenge, and are starting to get things ready such as snacks, and racing gear. Hopefully this year the temperatures will be more reasonable for dog and musher. Both teams are in tope shape, so we are silently hoping for a great outcome of the race!!
Follow us both at www.canadianchallenge.com
Fall Newsflash 2007:
Sorry for the very late Akela’s Den Newsflash, however it has been pretty hectic here at Akela’s Den this summer.
Bart arrived at the end of June and will be running our yearling team this winter. He is really looking forward to running again and at this moment they all look really good!
September 6th was a big day at the De Marie house. We welcomed our second daughter into this world of mushing and sled dogs. This keeps Tanja rather busy. We hope we can get her back on the sled soon!
We started our fall training at the beginning of September and after 2,5 months we are on schedule with our desired mileage. Our races will include; Lakeland invitational, Snowdog Romp, Neckbone, Canadian Challenge and hopefully at least one of our teams can go on a road trip as well.
We now have the middle of November and I think winter has settled in with over 8” of snow. Hopefully we can park the quad soon and move on to the sled.
We are also pleased to announce that we have came out with anew type of dog food. Akela’s Den Supreme is a 36% protein / 20% fat content kibble with great additional human grade supplements such as glucosamine, condroiten & probiotics. But don’t worry, we still carry our dependable Akela’s Den Pro (Musher Mix)!
We also included Stu Elliot sleds our line of products. They are simple good endurable sleds for a decent price (Only available during the off season!).
We are also proud to announce that for the first time in history, a 2 Belgian teams entered the Iditarod. Dries Jacobs and & Sam Deltour, two handlers working for Mitch Seavey, are now training hard to make this possible. You can follow their adventures at www.iditarod.be.
Hope you are all enjoying another year of good mushing and hopefully will see you soon!
Spring Newsflash 2007:
With the official spring started we are looking forward to some down time. Winter has been pretty busy out here with a lot of ups and downs. During racing season we met a lot of new people or were able to put faces to the names. Others we just spoke with over the phone but it was great talking to you!
Winter started out really well. We came back from the Snow Dog Romp and Neckbone with a 1st and 2nd place and thought we were geared up for the Canadian Challenge. Bart flew over from Belgium to handle for me (Stefaan). We had a good chance for a strong finish but weather and young dogs changed the outcome. A combination of strong and cold winds and young leaders forced us to pull out 2/3 into the race. My steering wheel gave up. We were very disappointed but we learned a lot and will make improvements next year. First weekend of March, Gerry Walker and Stefaan drove to Ft-St-James, BC and ran the stage race in the Caledonia Classic. First day we were blown away by the faster teams, but we were getting stronger the 2nd day, and would kick ass the 3rd day, but weather turned hot and water was laying on the lake, so with a 7th place Stefaan was happy to end his racing season well.
Now we are training 9 pups from our 2 breedings from last year. The season is over but we are looking forward to see what the next one will bring. With Bart coming back for the season we have an extra hand in the yard and for training, which will take a load off our shoulders with our new baby coming end of August. So our next season will already be very exciting!
Hope we can keep in tough during the spring and summer,