Tundra Drums Pre-Race Interview

At the 2009 Kobuk 440

Iditarod rookies from Y-K ready for adventure

Published in the Tundra Drums
Mar 4th, 2010 11:25 am

The Iditarod rookie nerves should be taking over about now, two days to race time, for Mike Williams Jr. and Peter Kaiser as they fiddle with their sleds, pack their sled bags and tick off items on to-do lists.

Countdown time for first-timers in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race between Anchorage and Nome is one long night of preparation and mental just-get-me-on-the-trail time. They have planned and trained and prepared and now the race is upon them and 1,100 miles of daunting trail and unpredictable weather lay ahead.

“A lot of that pre-race stuff is pretty overwhelming,” said Kaiser, 22, of Bethel. “I am excited about it, though.”

Who wouldn’t be? Competing in the Iditarod is one of the world’s greatest adventures, and for young Alaskans who grew up following the stories of the race for years, this grand opportunity playing out in their backyard is irresistible.

Williams, 24, of Akiak, is the son of longtime respected racer Mike Williams, a 14-time competitor who has relied on Mike Jr.’s help with dog-yard chores after school for years and is now letting him loose to run the team.

“He’s grown up mushing, all along helping me get ready,” said the senior Williams. “And the bug bit him. I give him pointers, but he knows what he’s doing. A new generation.”

Williams, 57, whose family was victimized by several tragic stories of alcohol abuse, has become a prominent figure for his strong campaigning against drinking and for each year carrying in his sled papers signed by thousands of Alaskans pledging sobriety. Mike Jr. works as a member of a youth for sobriety organization.

“He is wanting to be a good role model for young people,” Mike Sr. said.

Mike Jr. developed his passion for the family dogs by feeding them and caring for them as household chores. He works construction in the summer, building bathrooms and kitchens for the local school district and water and sewer department.

In other years, Mike Jr. has made the trip to Anchorage to help his father with last-minute preparations and he got a taste of the hoopla on kick-off Saturday during the annual ceremonial start in front of the large crowds lining temporary fencing along Fourth Avenue. More than once he has ridden in his dad’s second sled, employed in order to help keep the anxious dogs under control as they leave the starting line.

This time Mike Jr. won’t have to jump off the sled shortly after the race starts. He is in for the long ride.

“I can hardly wait to go,” Mike Jr. said. “I’m going to go to places I’ve never been before.”

New journey for family friends

By coincidence, he will experience seeing new parts of the Last Frontier for the first time at the same time his life-long friend Kaiser does. The Williams and Kaisers have known one another for years.

After racing shorter events like the Kobuk 440 and the Kuskokwim 300, Kaiser said it was natural to think longer and enter the Iditarod, though his timing has nothing to do with Mike Jr.’s.

“It’s just the biggest one there is,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser and Williams are preoccupied with starting their first Iditarods, not necessarily in boasting about who will beat whom.

“We’re friends,” said Mike Jr. “There’s kind of a quiet tension there, but no, no real rivalry. He’s a tough competitor.”

Kaiser graduated from Bethel High in 2005 and during summers he works on a tug boat on the Kuskokwim River.

Unlike perennial Iditarod champions and contenders with kennels of up to 100 dogs, the Kaiser kennel consists of about 35 dogs, many of them puppies. While some mushers can train 30 or more dogs, then choose 16 for the trail, Kaiser did not have that luxury. He started the year with 16 adult dogs he tried to keep healthy.

“There really isn’t any choosing,” he said. “You have to be careful in training. Some guys have a really big pool of dogs. I can’t really think that way.”

Small kennels predominate in Bethel and other communities located off the road system. The sport becomes vastly more expensive when shipping in dog food and flying dogs to races, and Kaiser is well aware of those challenges.

“There are 30-to-35 local teams around here,” he said. “But nobody’s making a career of it.”

Kaiser laughed when asked about the importance of beating fellow rookie Williams.

“We’ve been running against each other for a long time,” Kaiser said. “I don’t like to lose to him and he doesn’t like to lose to me.”

But Kaiser said his first Iditarod is not about beating anyone.

“After I leave the starting line what I’m looking for is to just experience all of it,” he said. “Having a good time, that’s kind of my goal.”

Pete #67 Starting Bib

Each Musher hauls Mail to Nome

Personalized Cups for Mushers

Pete drew #67 in the 2010 Iditarod Start tonight in Anchorage.

Complete Starting Order:

1) Orin Seybert, Anchorage Honorary Musher; 2) Linwood Fiedler , Willow; 3) Cim Smyth , Big Lake; 4) Wattie McDonald , Stonehaven , Scotland , UK; 5) Zoya DeNure , Gakona; 6) Jessie Royer , Fairbanks; 7) Paul Gebhardt , Kasilof; 8 ) John Baker , Kotzebue; 9) Ray Redington Jr , Wasilla; 10) Justin Savidis , Willow; 11) Blake Freking , Finland , Minn.; 12) Matt Hayashida , Willow; 13) Scott White , Woodinville , Wash.; 14) Newton Marshall , St. Anne , Jamaica; 15) Jeff King , Denali; 16) William “Middie” Johnson , Unalakleet; 17) Pat Moon , Chicago , Ill.; 18) Ross Adam , Grande Prairie , Alberta , Canada; 19) Mitch Seavey , Seward; 20) Hans Gatt , Whitehorse , Yukon , Canada; 21) Ramey Smyth , Willow; 22) Jane Faulkner , Soldotna; 23) Karin Hendrickson , Chugiak; 24) Art Church , Wasilla; 25) Ryan Redington , Wasilla; 26) Tamara Rose , Fairbanks; 27) Warren Palfrey , Quesnel , British Columbia , Canada; 28) Quinn Iten , Kotzebue; 29) Karen Ramstead , Perryvale , Alberta , Canada; 30) Michael Suprenant , Chugiak; 31) DeeDee Jonrowe , Willow; 32) Robert Nelson , Kotzebue; 33) Chris Adkins , Sand Coulee , Mont.,; 34) Kirk Barnum , Seeley Lake , Mont.; 35) Sebastian Schnuelle , Whitehorse , Yukon , Canada; 36) Michelle Phillips, Tagish, Yukon , Canada; 37) Martin Buser , Big Lake; 38) Kristy Berington , Kasilof; 39) Cindy Gallea , Seeley Lake , Mont.; 40) William Pinkham , Glenwood Springs , Colo.; 41) Dallas Seavey , Seward; 42) Sven Haltmann , Fairbanks; 43) Jim Lanier , Chugiak; 44) Sonny Lindner , Two Rivers; 45) Hank Debruin , Haliburton , Ontario , Canada; 46) Kathleen Frederick , Willow; 47) Zack Steer , Sheep Mountain; 48) Gerald Sousa , Talkeetna; 49) Lance Mackey, Fairbanks; 50) Aliy Zirkle, Two Rivers; 51) Ken Anderson , Fairbanks; 52) Dave DeCaro , Denali Park; 53) Emil Churchin , Anchorage; 54) Allen Moore , Two Rivers; 55) Gerry Willomitzer , Whitehorse , Yukon , Canada; 56) Hugh Neff , Tok; 57) Rick Swenson , Two Rivers; 58) Celeste Davis , Deer Lodge , Mont.; 59) Michael Williams, Jr. , Akiak; 60) Trent Herbst , Ketchum , Idaho; 61) Colleen Robertia , Kasilof; 62) Thomas Lesatz , Two Rivers; 63) Lachlan Clarke , Buena Vista , Colo.; 64) Dan Kaduce , Chatanika; 65) Bruce Linton , Kasilof; 66) Sam Deltour , Sint-Kruis , Belgium; 67) Peter Kaiser , Bethel; 68) Tom Thurston , Oak Creek , Colo.; 69) John Stewart , Aberdeen , Scotland , UK; 70) Billy Snodgrass , DuBois , Wyo.; 71) Jason Barron , Lincoln , Mont.; 72) Judy Currier , Fairbanks.

Pete Kaiser- Racing for Oxygen

Pete Kaiser, Racing for Oxygen
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Donna Bach, PR Director
March 4, 2010 (907) 543-6037 direct
(907) 543-6007 fax
The Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in partnership Norton Sound Health Corporation and
numerous rural health care providers throughout rural Alaska are hoping to send a message to the federal
Department of Transportation by campaigning for a ”Race for Oxygen” and sponsoring Pete Kaiser, 22, a
longtime Bethel musher in an awareness campaign in his premier bid in the 2010 Iditarod sled dog race.
Restrictive federal Department of Transportation regulations, first proposed in 2004 by the Pipeline and
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration– a division of the Department of Transportation came about in
relation to a ValuJet flight 592, that crashed in Florida in 1996. Improperly stored oxygen concentrators
burst into flames in a cargo compartment and resulted in the death of all 110 passengers aboard; prompting
nation-wide use of rigid packaging for oxygen and other hazardous materials in flight for precautionary
safety purposes.
The aviation industry in Alaska and health care providers argue that the requirement will cause
unintentional consequences and possible deaths and will lead to a depleted availability of the life-saving
transportable oxygen often used by patients with chronic bronchial and lung infections, asthma or other
breathing related illnesses.
“Air transportation is the most dependable method for getting our rural patients to higher levels of care
when there are acute or urgent health concerns that need to be addressed immediately,” said Dr. Ellen
Hodges, Chief of Medical Staff for YKHC. “If Alaska is unable to obtain a permanent exemption from this
regulation, specific to patient care– we may encounter consequences in our health outcomes.”
Considered the “Last Great Race on Earth,” the inspiration behind the Iditarod trail race began in 1925 for a
health related cause. A relay of dog teams and mushers were organized to provide the life-saving
diphtheria serum to treat many of the Inuit residents stricken with the pandemic because blizzard conditions
prevented airplanes from landing in the Bering Strait community of Nome. The Iditarod Trail became a
life saving highway for many in Nome who may have died without the life-saving serum.
“This is another example where federal regulations that may work or be applicable in the lower 48 states
due to their extensive road system network will not work in a state that is 1/3rd the size of the continental
U.S. and lacks basic road infrastructure,” said YKHC CEO and President Gene Peltola.
“We want to support Pete Kaiser’s efforts in his premier Iditarod trail run to simulate that of the Serum Run
in highlighting how difficult the transport of oxygen can be for many of our rural patients. This is a life and
death situation for many patients, and harmful to several industries throughout Alaska,” Peltola stated.
Pete Kaiser, 22, a Bethel born Alaska Native and champion sled dog musher stated “I feel honored to
support a cause that may have an unintentional impact in the health outcomes of people in our region and
throughout most of rural Alaska. Our state is large, our region is unique, and our health challenges are
staggering. I will do my best to not only finish this race but to assist in bringing this topic to the forefront
and echo the sentiments that health challenges still exist in the Last Frontier.” He also stated, “I know it’s
not a diphtheria serum, but in a sense, it’s very similar and a worthwhile cause,” he said with a smile.
For more information about YKHC, visit www.ykhc.org
For more information about Pete Kaiser, visit the following website at: www.kaiserracing.com
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Iditarod Rookie Meeting 2010

From GoMush.com

12/05/09 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA– The 2010 Iditarod rookies were in Anchorage, Alaska this weekend attending a mandatory meeting for first time Iditarod mushers. Twenty three “Cheechakos” have signed up to race the 2010 Iditarod, which begins March 6 in downtown Anchorage. The rookie meeting is designed to help ease some of the anxiety typically associated with a race this size.The first day, seasoned mushers like DeeDee Jonrowe and Lance Mackey share their experiences and what works for them. Ways to organize your gear, what style sled runners work, how many do you go thorugh in a race, how to properly pack your sled so you are not wasting time dumping it out onto the snow looking for one item. Packing only what you need. Offering suggestions on what to send out to each check point and why with emphasis on the importance of making a race plan and allowing room for unexpected circumstances such as sick dogs or bad weather. Day two rookies head out to the kennel of Iditarod musher, Martin Buser, to get some hands on training. Martin will talk to the rookies about what to put in their drop bags, strategies on running, resting and feeding their dogs in a marathon race like the Iditarod. The entire weekend is open for questions and learning from those that have been there done that.