Last weekend I spent a few hours writing thank you cards to folks who supported us through sponsorships. I wrote about each dog, I wrote about the adventures had as a team, and I wrote about how we could not do it without them.
When I first contemplated opening up a dog sponsorship program, to raise funds for the race season and the trip to the UP200, it felt like a big ask. I had been racing for a few years already and hadn’t attempted to fundraise before, so why would I need to start now? And, after all, isn’t it my own selfish desire to run dogs and race them at this level?
I learn so much about myself and the dogs in every race, in every run, and in every year. This year I learned and saw that while I like running dogs, and like racing, the dogs love it. They are competitive, they are athletic, and they love adventures and seeing new things.
In many ways, I am merely a facilitator or coach. I create a training regimen, I drive them around, I wash their harnesses and rub down their feet. I forgo my natural sleeping habits and my social calendar so they can run when it works for them. They are the athletes, bred specifically for racing, and I do everything I can to help them meet their full potential.
The funds raised through sponsorships made it possible for us to travel to the UP of Michigan for a new and wonderful race. It made it possible for all the logistics of a 250 mile race, the booties and beef and chicken and kibble and liniments and more, and for the long journey there and back.
I can still see the excited smile on Hyside and Bayley’s face as we pulled into the start chute in downtown Marquette. I can also see a similar face on both of them as we motored into the finish line. This race was a good race, for them.
I can see similar faces shared among all the dogs throughout the season. Ellie’s grin as we shooted out onto the trail for the Mahoosuc 100. Taz’s leaping bounding joy on every mile of every run. House’s catapaulting gymnastics before he’s brought to the gangline at hookup. Ia’s quiet rocking back and forth, silent but smiling. Wembley’s total focus on the trail ahead.
The dogs don’t have a way to train themselves, to get to trailheads, or to order the booties that protect their feet. Likewise, when we take on a bold and long adventure like the UP200, it takes a lot to get them there. When I saw the dogs in these moments of joy and glee and excitement, I would also see all the names and faces and notes from those who sponsored the team and who have supported us.
Thank you to all of those who helped us get there. Because, truly, we couldn’t do it without you. The dogs couldn’t live their full potential without you, and I couldn’t help them see that full potential without you. To paraphrase John O'Donohue, thank you for freeing the possibilities within these dogs.
In gratitude, humility, and honor, we thank you.
Dog Team Sponsors:
Margaret McNamara for sponsoring Bayley
Barney and Honey Rydel for sponsoring Maihi
Joan Fullerton for sponsoring Hilde
Chris Garby for sponsoring Ellie
Brooke Holton for sponsoring Taz
Stephanie Miller for sponsoring Nibbler
Cooper Hill Axe Works for sponsoring Taz
Belle Fullerton for sponsoring Hawkeye
Carole Martin for sponsoring Ia
Kieron Coffield for sponsoring Ariel
Bridget Sprague for sponsoring Thai
Stephen Bartley for sponsoring Hawkeye
Tom Callahan and Bliss for sponsoring Taz
Cooper Hill Axe Works for sponsoring Maihi
Donald Stickney for sponsoring House
Margaret McNamara for sponsoring Gunnar
Lori Langlois for sponsoring the whole team.
The Whiting Family (Suzy, Brad, Steven, and Joseph) for sponsoring the whole team.
Cooper Hill Axe Works for sponsoring the whole team.
Mary and Tom King for sponsoring the whole team.
Kara White Hunter for her incredible trail mix
Matt Moore for the music in my ears
Andy Bartleet for construction projects, sled repair and design improvements, and for helping train the youngsters.
David Manikian and Will O'Brien for feeding the dogs three days a week, rain or shine.
Katie Laflamme for my good-luck charm
Rachel Manikian Grossman for notes in every checkpoint bag.
Angela Powell for the presence of the raven
Chuck Johnston for patience, caring, and support of the musher., and for holding down the homestead during so many long training runs and for the long weeks away for the UP200 and the Can Am 250. .
Maria Gaffney and Tashi for the UP200
Elissa Gramling for the Can Am 250.
Bill and Simone Vadja for the UP200
Laura and Don Audibert for the Can Am 250