Thank you to everyone that made a donation or sponsored dogs for the 2015 Iditarod. Without your help, we could have not made it to the finish line! Please contact me via email at email@example.com if you have any questions.
I have finished the 2015 Iditarod in 34th place! It took the team and I 11 days 2 hours 7 minutes and 10 seconds.
Yukon and Brown were my leaders to the finish line in Nome
I have dedicating this Iditarod to Mary Strnad, Pat Strnad and Connie Smigla who all had passed away recently. These three people will truly be missed!
My 2015 Iditarod story
The restart in Fairbanks went very well. The dogs starting were: Yukon, Brown, Grizzley, Kodiak, Canyon, Nehru, Black, Festus, Charley, Bernie, Goodyear, Fjord, Mick, McKinley, Anvik & Eagle. The two dogs Nehru and Anvik I had leased as the other ones in my kennel were not ready for this years Iditarod. I had Jim & Deb Abrams, Butch (my brother) Jason Tranchitella and a few other volunteers to get my team to the starting line. The team was very hard to control but it all worked out well. I gave all the dogs a kiss before it was my time to go. Once we left, I was happy to get on the trail, spend time with the dogs and see what the 2015 Iditarod had to offer. The team was moving along very nice with lots of fans along the trail. I stopped a few times to untangled a few dogs and snack them some meat. We arrived at Nenana and I checked in with the checker. I had my vet book signed as we must get it signed and sign it ourselves at every checkpoint. Butch, Jason and a few others from Scott Janssen's kennel were there to give me my drop bags, water and see me on my way as I was not staying there. I packed my things in my sled and pulled up the zipper on my sled and it broke. Jordan and Sean had fixed it which meant we were back in good shape. I passed a few teams camping and was looking for Anna and others so I could camp with them. I came across about 8 mushers, parked my team, put down straw for them, fed them kibble, tripe and then I had something to eat. After a 4 hour rest, I put on new booties, dog coats as it was going to be around -20s and we continued down the trail. The team was looking good and it was getting colder out. It was 90 miles to Manley so that meant we would have to camp out about halfway to give the dogs another rest. The temperature was around -25 and I didn't have any problems with my Insulin or my pump so far. Anna & I camped together and started a small fire with dead trees that we cut down to stay a little warm. We were pretty cold so we decided to get back on the trail and head to Manley. I checked into Manley and decided to stay for several hours as Fjord didn't seem to be pulling like he should be. I did all my dog chores (remove booties, straw dogs, fed them, put foot ointment on paws, ate, etc.) put on new booties and off we went. We went around a small loop leaving Manley and Fjord didn't seem any better after his rest, so I dropped him at Manley. After Manley there were steep hills and I helped the dogs by ski polling up the hills. It was sunny and warmer out which made the dogs slow down a bit. Once the sun went down, the cold returned as it seemed to take forever to get to the next checkpoint of Tanana. I stopped several times to snack the dogs some fish and replace a few booties as they fall off sometimes along the trail. I was looking in the distance for the glow of lights to the next checkpoint, I saw them. We finally arrived at Tanana. I completed all the dog chores and took a nap. I began to repack my sled with straw and extra dog food as I was going to camp before Ruby. The team was looking very good until the sun came up and that changed the trail. It was getting soft, windy and some areas were drifted over. I passed a few other mushers camped out and started to look for a spot that was out of the wind but in the sun. I found a nice spot that was along the bank of the river which was such a peaceful setting. I completed all the dog chores and took a several hour rest. I left when the sun was somewhat still up, as my dogs performance is much better at early evening and night. The weather was nice but was getting colder, trail was changing with drifting in many areas. The trail was marked well and the leaders Yukon and Brown were doing great. The northern lights were out that night as we made our way through the drifted trail to Ruby. I saw a light ahead of us and knew it was the Ruby checkpoint. About a mile before Ruby, Mick had stopped running so I loaded him in the basket. Once at Ruby, I had the vet look at Mick and he had a temperature of 107. I then decided to take my 8 hour mandatory rest here. After dog chores were complete, I had the vet look at Mick and his temperature was back to normal. After resting the team I snacked the dogs, put on booties and made the decision to keep Mick as he is a important dog to the team. About a few miles after leaving Ruby, Mick stopped pulling so I loaded him in the sled. I was disappointed that I didn't drop him at the checkpoint because I now had to carry him in the sled for 48 miles. As we made our way down the trail to Galena, Grizzly was not pulling so I loaded him in the sled after snacking the team with some fish. With the 2 dogs in the sled, that slowed us down even more. We now saw Galena in the background. This year they had us use a different place to stay in Galena so it took us a bit longer to get there. We arrived in Galena and as planned I declared my 24 hour rest plus my starting differential. The dogs ate well, Grizzly had his wrists wrapped as they were sore from the trail. I had decided to drop Mick (not pulling) and Charley (sore wrists) and all others had a good wrist massage with ointment on them. I had put the dogs blankets over them as it was going to be colder and we would be there for 24 hours. Galena was really busy with a lot of mushers taking there 24 hour rest. People from Galena had made food for the mushers to eat. I spoke with a few friends Jansen Cardy, Jon Korta and was interviewed by the insider. I brought inside some gear to dry off and get some rest. I went out every 4-5 hours to feed the dogs and to look them over. All the dogs were eating, drinking and resting very well. I was packing my sled for our next run to Huslia which I would be camping again on the 86 mile run. We left Galena with the dogs looking very good. The sun was going down and I could feel it really getting cold. I was looking at my gps for the mileage where the cabin would be that we were going to camp at. I finally came to it and noticed the headlamps of other mushers tending to there dogs. If they were not outside at the time, I would have passed right by it. I took care of my team and headed to the cabin to warm up. Inside the cabin, there was Anna, Kristy, Matt Failor, Bryan Bearss and a few other mushers. We keep putting wood inside the stove to stay warm and dry off our gear. After around 5 hours, I headed outside to snack the dogs. The temperature was pegged on the thermometer at -60 so it might have been colder than that. I was a little worried that my insulin pump or insulin might freeze, so I kept it under my clothing at all times. We left the cabin and we're now headed to Husila. The trail was in good shape with a few treed areas but mostly river sections. The sun was rising slowly and the temperature was very cold out as we were on the road coming into Husila. I checked in, had the vets look over my dogs and took care of all the dog chores. I checked my blood sugar and it was really high so I changed my set and insulin and my blood sugar was back to normal. A lot of mushers were at the checkpoint resting or on there 24 hour rest. Hot water and people food was available as a lot of checkpoints provide this for the mushers. Huslia was very nicely organized and very friendly people from the village. I packed up the sled for another camping trip as the run was 82 miles. We stayed around 5 hours and we're back on the trail. Again it was a nice trail with some winding treed areas that made it a different trail for us to look at. The sun was setting and the cold seemed to be worse than the last run. Anna, Kristy and me planned on camping halfway but we then decided to go to a cabin as it would be warmer than sleeping outside. This part of the trail was the coldest for me. My feet were very cold as this point in the race. I stopped several times to re booty a few dogs and snack them. The team slowed down a bit as I think the cold was affecting them since we have not been in this type of weather in several years. A few mushers had passed me and I could not see anyone in front of me as the trail was winding up and down the portages. It seemed like forever to make it to the cabin. I finally made it, took care of the dogs and rested in the cabin. We once again stayed for 4-5 hours. The sun was coming up and the view was very nice. We pulled into Koyukuk, I signed in, snacked my dogs, took a few things out of my drop bags and was on my way to Nulato which was a 22 mile run. A few dogs seemed to be slowing down on the way to Nulato. I arrived in Nulato, took care of the dogs and decided to drop my oldest dog Bernie, who is going on 9 years old. Goodyear was also dropped, both of them for not pulling. We rested for 4 hours and after I left the checkpoint, I noticed that I had dropped my mittens so I turned the team around to get them. Once back on the trail, we were moving pretty good. The sun went down, the wind picked up, the trail was drifted over in many areas and started to snow out. I saw the lights of Kaltag in the distance and was happy that we have made it this far without any major problems. I was now in Kaltag with the team resting well. I slept for a few hours after making myself something to eat. I packed up my sled for our next camping trip at Old Women's Cabin. The trail was nice until we went further up the hills and the trail was pretty wind drifted over. The leaders Yukon and Brown found it without a problem. We could not even tell that any other teams were in front, that's how bad it was drifting. Once we went over the hills the trail was in good shape without any drifts to speak of. We reached Old Women's Cabin, parked the team, took care of the team and rested inside the cabin. Anna, Kristy, Justin Savidis and several other mushers were inside resting as this is a popular place to stay at. The team was a little slow leaving so I switched a few dogs around to see if this worked any better. It helped out as we were now on our way to Unalakleet. The 36 miles we had to go was pretty good until about 8 miles before there was some fresh snow which was nice to see. Last year was a lot of glare ice and very hard to control the team. We are now in Unalakleet which is around 700 miles into the race. We are now on the coast and it's always a little windy. The dogs were all looking good at this point. Unalakleet always has a lot of great food for the mushers to eat. I was really hungry so they made me bacon and eggs. I took a several hour rest then headed outside to pack my things up before heading out. The trail leaving Unalakleet was not really marked that well so we had stopped a few times to make sure we were on the correct trail. We have to climb the blueberry hills which are pretty steep on the way to Shaktoolik. We always have a little bit of trouble with the steeper hills so I helped out the team a lot on this part of the trail. Once we reached the top of the hills, you can see Shaktoolik in the far distance. The trail this year was really nice and marked well once we come down from the blueberry hills. It's a very long stretch of flat trail as we run along the spit. Shaktoolik is usually very windy, but this year was clear, sunny and calm. All the dog chores were done, vet had checked over all the dogs and a class from the school had walked down to visit with my team. We rested for several hours then got ready to get back on the trail as we heard that a storm was moving in. The team did not look very good at all leaving Shaktoolik. I stopped several times to move dogs around hoping that we could get moving again. After sometime, we were back to normal again. The trail was pretty well marked and I could see ahead of me that a ground storm was moving in. About 20 some miles out of Shaktoolik, I had run into the storm. The visibility and trail was pretty bad. The dogs kept stopping so I kept switching leaders around. I really didn't find any dog that wanted to take control during the storm. I had stopped pretty much right on the trail to camp. I would never do this but in case something went wrong, I wanted to be found. I removed all the booties and laid down next to my leaders. After about 10 minutes, I decided to get my sleeping bag out and lay next to my sled to be blocked from the wind. After being in my sleeping bag for nearly 2 hours I had been woken up by Justin Savidis. He asked me if I was ok and that I need to get my team moving again. I was a little confused and out of it. Justin had told me I was disoriented. I now wonder if I wasn't going into hypothermia. I didn't feel cold at all prior to getting in my sleeping bag, but it could have started while I was sleeping. My blood sugar was normal so I knew that was not an issue at the time. I got my team moving again as I was following Justin and his team. At times I would see his headlamp, then nothing at all. It seemed like he just disappeared into the wind. He had told me later on that he was falling asleep. I did come across his headlamp that he dropped on the trail. I saw the lights of Koyuk which you can see about 15-20 miles before getting to the town. As you are on the trail you just stare at those lights and wonder if you are getting closer or farther away. It's like if the town is moving but it's just the trail going up and down on the ice. I had finally made it to Koyuk which was a big relief. I had thanked Justin several times for helping me out on the trail. If he didn't come across me, I'm not sure what would have happened, nor do I want to know. I sat in Koyuk, which I then decided I was going to stay at least 8-10 hours so my team could get a much needed rest. They were looking very tired at this point in the race. I pretty much knew at this point that my finishing position would be 33rd or 34th so there wasn't a big hurry to leave. I had gotten plenty of rest and kept checking my dogs to see how they looked. As usual they were all eating and drinking very well. Once they seemed like they had enough rest, I was getting ready to leave. They didn't look good again leaving the checkpoint. Eagle didn't want to pull so I turned the team around and dropped him. I don't like turning around but also didn't want to carry him on the way to Elim. Once we were back on the trail things were going good. The trail was drifted over and the wind had started to get bad again. Brown and Yukon were breaking through the drifts as they seem to enjoy it. There are several areas that were very very windy but the team kept moving along the trail. Some areas there were not a lot of trail markers as the wind might have blown them down. We did get off the trail a few times but did manage to get back on the trail. We were now in Elim, I did all the dog chores and took a several hour rest. When leaving Elim, there is some very steep hills that we had to climb. The team did struggle again at this part in the race. Once the hills were over we seemed to get better. The trail is very flat and was very slow after going down in Golovin Bay. McKinley had a sore shoulder as he wasn't pulling that good. He really slowed us down a lot as he is my biggest dog on the team. I did switch several dogs around to see if that would make a difference, it helped out a little. Once we arrived in White Mountain, I decided to drop McKinley because he is too big to carry in the basket. I was now left with 9 dogs to make the last 77 miles to the finish line in Nome. The vet did a very detailed look at all the dogs and pointed out a few things that she noticed. I took care of all the dogs, had something to eat and took a several hour nap inside the checkpoint. I got up, feed the dogs and decided that instead of taking the 8 hour mandatory rest, I would stay a little longer as my placement would still not change any. I got my team ready and we were now on our way to Safety. The team was doing well as we went down the nice trail. We did run into a few areas of windy sections but we were all use to it at this point in the race. I could see the Safety checkpoint in the distance which made me feel happy that the team has done so well this year. I stopped to sign in and asked the two checkers if I could have my drop bag that I sent out as I had a few bags of meat snacks. They told me that I had no bag here in Safety. I knew I sent one out but wasn't worried as I still had snacks inside my sled. We left Safety, 22 miles to go, Cape Nome (hill) was in front of us. Last year my team had shut down at the bottom of this hill which we had to rest several hours before moving again. Well, they started to again this year. The dogs sure remember things and thought we were going to do a repeat, I told them I don't think so. I switched a lot of dogs around and I ended up walking next to the team till the top of the Cape Nome. I wish someone was around to have taken a picture of me walking next to the team, it would have been a great one. I'm sure they were talking about me while moving up the hill. Once we made it to the top, the team was pulling again. We were making our way over the rolling hills to Nome. I could see the town and people along the streets cheering us on. I had thanked all the dogs and told them what any amazing journey this has been. We came up from the ice onto the street and headed to the finish line. Lots of people where out as it was a little bit after 12:00pm. I signed in, snacked my dogs, had all my mandatory gear checked and was happily greeted by Anna, Kristy, Carol Seppilu, Pete Konefke, John Nielsen and many other friends that came over to see me finish. Throughout the race my blood sugars were up and down. Its really hard to test your blood sugar when it is severely cold out as your meter, insulin and insulin pump would freeze instantly. Over all I managed my blood sugar the best I could and had no major problems. We made it under the burled arch in 34th position. It took us 11 days 2 hours 7 minutes 10 seconds to complete this nearly 1,000 mile race. Finishing the race was: Yukon, Brown, Grizzly, Kodiak, Black, Canyon, Festus, Nehru and Anvik. My two main leaders was Brown, Yukon and others were, Nehru, Black and Anvik. All dogs that were on the team did an amazing job! I am really happy with this years performance and looking forward to improving this team for future races.
Thank you very much!
The team resting at the Manley Checkpoint. Kodiak and Grizzly enjoying the sun. The trail on the way to Tanana.
The team resting on the trail between Tanana and Ruby. Mick in the basket, then Grizzly also in the basket. When dogs get injured, they get to ride in the sled until the next checkpoint. Grizzly on our 24 hour rest has his wrist wraps on both paws as they were sore. They were back to normal and he finished the entire race.
This is the view of the Husila Checkpoint. This is the first time that Huslia is a checkpoint in the history of the Iditarod. It was very well organized and very friendly people. Dogs are resting, cookers are warming up for the dogs next meal and all the drop bags are in order for the mushers. It was very cold on the way to Husila, -60 and warmed up to -25.
The trail after leaving Husila had many areas of heavily treed sections. Anna, Kristy, Me and a few other mushers had camped out in-between Husila and Koyukuk. That night was very cold with temperatures down to -50. The trail On the Yukon river to Nulato.
The team resting at Nulato. The trail on the way to Kaltag. Snacking the dogs a piece of fish.
This is Old Womens Cabin which in located 36 miles from Unalakleet. Yukon, Brown and team are resting. Inside the cabin is a wood stove where the mushers dry off boots, jackets, etc. Mushers also can take a much needed nap after the long run. We had rested here around 5 hours.
Snowing on the way to Unalakleet. Trail on the way to Shaktoolik, sunrise over the blueberry hills. Traveling down the trail with a view of the coast and Shaktoolik.
The dogs just had the booties taken off, vets check them out and then straw will be put down for them to rest. The trail to Koyuk with a big rock and safety cabin in the background. Trail on the way to Elim. The trail was drifted and lots of wind to deal with.
On the way to White Mountain, sunrise in the background and following Justin Savidis as we are getting close to White Mountain.
White Mountain checkpoint with all the dogs resting before we leave for the final 77 miles to the finish in Nome. Almost to the Safety checkpoint.
Coming up the street and into the finish line in Nome!
Finish line and dogs resting in the Nome dog lot.
Above is the route for the 2015 Iditarod. This map shows all the checkpoints and the mileage between each one. This map is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.