Recap from the last few months:
At the end of December Jessica sustained a partial tear of her medial collateral ligament in her knee while out on a long training run. Luckily Jess is from a big family and had a whole crew of visiting Klejkas and Louise to help while she began her recovery. While still very injured Jess flew out to Bethel to run her clinic and to help vet her favorite dograce the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race. Due to her injury, Jess was able to obtain a ride up to the Tuluksak checkpoint with mushing legend and friend Myron Angstman and borrow her dad's truck to drive the frozen Kuskokwim river back home with the K-300 drop dogs. Reigning Iditarod champion Pete Kaiser won the race and the whole town again found reason to celebrate.
Jeremiah stopped by the kennel to help for a few weeks and entered his first 300 mile dogsled race: the Willow 300. He finished it as an Iditarod qualifier in 7th place! Meanwhile Jess continued to heal and train very small teams while wearing her knee brace. Louise continued to hone her skills and Louise and Anna spent a lot of time out on our trails with the puppy team preparing for Anna's race. Anna competed in her first race of the season placing 5th in the Willow 100 after her brake broke at the halfway point of the race. Jess was one of the vets for the race and helped vet check the willow teams before they left the starting line. Luckily the race officials allowed Anna's parents to bring her a replacement sled. Meanwhile Sam and Jess had the Iditarod race team camping up at the Brewer family cabin in Willow.
Next came Iditarod food drops. For the next week it was all hands on deck while the salmon, beef and dog food was cut and packaged for the dogs to eat along the trail. Two weeks before the Iditarod the race requires all dog food and human food to go on the trail. Sam takes care of the human food and like any veterinarian Jess puts the dogs first and almost forgot her human food this year! Good thing for Sam. Sam is also the numbers guy in charge of the spreadsheets keeping meat and the correct pounds of each meal separate for each food drop and checkpoint along the way. In between working full time with the clinic in Bethel and part time at Biglake vet, Jessica continued to train the race team and attend physical therapy. The morning of food drops brought a big warm front and created a scramble for the tailwind team of Jess, Sam, Louise, and Anna as they worked to keep the drop bags frozen on the 32 degree drive to anchorage with a quick stop into the ortho doctors office for his final opinion on Jess's knee. After a clear from the doctor that her knee is in good shape food drops were brought into Anchorage. The food for Jess and the dogs weighed in at just under 2,000 pounds!
Next came Iditarod pre-race blood work and EKG's for the team. A fun morning spent visiting with the Iditarod vet techs and getting samples submitted for each dog making sure they are fit for the race to Nome. After blood work was finished it was back off on the trails for another training run, then Louise had her first solo race with the puppy team where she finished in first place! Yaay Louise. While we continue to do last minute prep for Nome and the dogs go on their last few training runs, Anna is gearing up to compete with the second team in her second Jr. Iditarod race. Stay tuned for updates as time allows.