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Doug R.

USA
230 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  12:52:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I see what you mean now dog artist.
And I do wonder if the Iditarod is as lean as it could be.
Firemusher makes a good point. A budget is a budget and when something like this entry fee increase comes along with such short notice there are only a few choices.
The money has to come from somewhere and when the budget is violated there is a exponentially increased cost down the road somewhere. I'm wondering, after looking at silverbelle's budget, how can you run this race cheaper? Any ideas folks?
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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  06:00:23 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No offense but Silverbelle's figures seem way low and have got to be for in state Alaska. For us lower 48ers we have the three thousand mile journey just to get there.
About five years ago I called the Yukon Quest folks as I was fantasizing doing the Quest. I was told I need to budget a minimum of 18,000 just to show up and 30,000 to be competitive. I figure the Iditarod would be much more.
One advantage we do have here is access to many more potential sponsorships but still it takes a lot of brass to waltz in and ask for large $$'s when we have no past race standings to surf on. Hopefully the person we encounter with the checks will at least have some understanding what we are trying to do. LOL
One thing we can do is find something Alaskans need to offset the cost of the trip. Stockpiling is a way of life in Alaska so if we can deliver something they need at low $$s that might be one thing to offset cost but then the hitch is we need to go through Canada and that's a thorn in it'self. Something needs to be done to make it easier to travel to the 49th State. That's a whole other post.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it...
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dog artist

USA
41 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  09:50:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The one thing I was always able to trade for great things when I lived there was fresh corn on the cob Could trade whole salmon for a dozen ears, which when you think about it, isn't a good trade of even worth at market. But fresh corn on the cob there...mmmmmm..a rare and wonderful thing. Aside from getting your hands on salmon snacks, it won't finance an Iditarod run. Especially if you have to haul it in a dog truck for 4 days....it was an August thing...corn only one day off the stalk for fish only one day out of the water.
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Doug R.

USA
230 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  8:30:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Cliff, I am getting some different numbers than you are. I have talked to many Iditarod and Quest veterans (including Lance Mackey) and they all say that "actual" race costs; that is the cost from starting line to returning everything to Anchorage are right at $10,000, with some as low as $8000 and others as high as $12,000. Quest vets put that number at 6-8K. Of course you have to add the cost of the travel from where ever you are coming from and for the Outsiders that is going to be a lot. This is without the new entry fee increase. An extra 2-3K could be a killer.
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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  10:06:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Doug - Hey that's good that my figures are off. I don't recall who it was I was speaking to. Whoever picked up the phone at the Quest head quarters and like I said that was probably five years ago. Maybe they were factoring in travel expenses from the midwest.
Email privitlyif you wish - I'd like to hear from those who've made the trek to Alaska/Yukon by truck and transporting a large dog team. What the rough figures were, length of travel/day , method of lodging along the way, ease of dog drops etc. Where exactly can one drop a team of dogs while traveling? Are there any restrictions about using wayside areas with multiple dogs? On the AlCan how does the road house system work? I understand road houses are still and integral part of traveling on the Al Can. Would deisel or gasoline be better. Camping options - anything else that might be useful to know. Contacts for the purchase of meat both in Canada and Alaska.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it...
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dog artist

USA
41 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2007 :  12:08:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Cliff, I can't really help with numbers on a gas bill...we were driving a gas-guzzling suburban towing a dog trailer with 26 dogs and all the required gear, 4 sleds, LOTS of kibble and canned dog food. NO RAW MEAT.

Fuel has gone up, too. Just follow the rule of top off your tank, gas or diesel, every chance you can, just to be safe. Our drive/rest schedule put us in 'civilization' every night, where we stayed in hotels. IMO diesel is better, but that is just me. But here is a rundown on our drive:
When we do it with the dog truck, it is with potty/food/stretch stops about every 5 hours built into the schedule. But it takes 4-5 10-hour days, as the roads can require slower speeds just because we are hauling so many dogs and all that gear on a huge truck. And that was with 4 adults doing the dog drops/feeding/scooping, which made drops pretty fast if we needed to.
Day 1=Bend, Oregon to Hope, British Columbia 518 miles--dropped at a rest stop outside Fife (south of Seattle), chains with snaps. Went across the border check about 10 pm---uneventful. Didn't even ask about dog food on-board. Hope, BC had a couple of hotels there, and we dropped the dogs at hotel.
Day 2=Hope, BC to Dawson Creek 662 miles-40 below when we arrived at midnight, 20 above when we pulled out at 6 am next morning.
Day 3=Dawson Creek to Liard Hot Springs 512 miles stayed at a nice lodge there, walked through the dark to hot springs at -20-amazing!
Day 4=Liard to Whitehorse 419 miles this was a flat-tire day
Day 5=Whitehorse to Lake Louise (Glennallen) 518 miles Whitehorse is a BIG city!!! For up there...vivid memory of a free drop along the beautiful Kluane Lake area at a huge roadside pulloff....
Day 6=Glennallen to Soldotna 310 miles
If there were restrictions about dropping dogs along the trip, we never heard about them. Just scooped and fed whenever we could find a nice wide pulloff, and almost always used the drop chains. Don't know about road house system...lots of places that are open in the summer were shut up tight. The lodge at Liard Hot Springs was AMAZING!!!! We carried a cooler with lunch meat, cheese, drinks, etc. and snacked our way up for 4 days. We didn't stop for a hot meal until breakfast in Whitehorse, waiting to have a tire fixed. Do carry spares, tire jack, etc. because even when the road is covered with snow, you might need 'em. And, just as a side note, even satellite radio gets sketchy about Dawson Creek and all our cell phones started beeping at Lake Louise (Copper race site)...we really didn't 'exist' until then cell-wise.
I think we did it about as 'cheaply' as we could--all in one hotel room, carry human food (I can't imagine finding or waiting to be served food and how much time THAT would have consumed each day)and getting there as quickly as was safely possible. A nice possible addition would be to carry hot water or heat water in your cooker for pre-frozen human meals, but the way we did it just seemed quicker and easier....less fuss. Hope this helps a litte......

Edited by - dog artist on 07/27/2007 12:10:08 AM
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vetbills

USA
327 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2007 :  01:57:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit vetbills's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hey Cliff,

Two years ago I travelled from Yellowknife, NWT to Seward, Alaska....just for the summer of course. LOL. What I didn't figure on was meeting the love of my life and well now, I am officially a permanent resident of the United States....still a Canadian citizen though and always will be, but happy to live in Alaska, work, pay taxes, volunteer and just do my part. But I digress.
A friend of mine was gracious enough to drive me and 40 dogs. Yes, I suspect he's crazy! We did the trip in three days and we gave new meaning to the word whirlwind.
We stopped about every 5 to 6 hours. There was no real plan other than to stop where we could, drop the dogs and eat when we could. It worked out fine. My friend had already done the trip a few times so he knew all the rest stops where we could fuel up and get people food. We had no trouble at all getting water for the dogs at these places.
Due to a paperwork issue at the border we had an unplanned stopped at the Beaver Creek, Yukon Westmark. It's kind of spendy for the digs but the folks more than made up for it. They supplied water and had no problem with parking a dog truck and trailer outside the window of the room.
We stopped at wide spots on the roads or pull outs and dropped dogs. We made sure we were considerate of truckers....we didn't drop dogs where there were rigs pulled over and drivers obviously sleeping.
The only hold up was tourists who often stopped to take pictures and ask questions.

"Dammit...I said whoa!"
Out Front! Kennels
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northwapiti

Canada
455 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2007 :  07:42:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit northwapiti's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I can't see where any musher - even a veteran from Alaska could run the race for $8000. I have heard Swingley say each Iditarod team he fields sets him back $50,000. I probably spend that my rookie year, but my numbers are more in about the $30,000 range now.

Many of the mushers that do it on ultra light budgets are the ones getting into trouble on the trail and attempting to feed their teams and themselves off the leftovers of other mushers - not only is that against race rules, it is just plain wrong. (Emergencies and really extrodiarary situations are one thing - poor planning a whole 'nother thing)
You must prepare not only for a good, fast race, but for what could potentailly happen out there. Doing it otherwise is not humane nor responsible.

Karen Ramstead
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Doug R.

USA
230 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2007 :  10:07:10 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Karen;
Could you share your expenses with us so that we can compare your list with silverbelle's?
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northwapiti

Canada
455 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2007 :  12:05:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit northwapiti's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm not going to sit down and go through everything, as I don't have the time, nor always keep good enough records (often too painful to know exactly what it costs)- and there are ALOT of incidentals that need to be budgeted for too, but here are some things folks may not have factored in.

My food drops are about 1600 lbs each year. That is about average. A number of mushers send out close to 2000 lbs - including some top,experienced mushers.A minumum of 60 lbs per checkpoint is required. It is 62 cents per lb this year to send out food drops.

-I ship out 1500 booties, which is low for alot of mushers, I know. For a good cordura bootie with stretch vel, prices are about .85 - 1.00 each
- 300 lbs of top end kibble. Now, I understand that the dogs have to be fed regardless, but not as much, nor as top end a food as if they were running at home. Also, there is alot of waste that needs to be factored in because of 'what ifs'.
- I send out many hundreds of lbs of meat snacks and fat. Some may be waste if the weather is warm, but if it is cold - it is needed. None of this may be shipped home if not used.
- I send out about a dozen bottles of linament ($20 - $30 each) each year , plus foot ointments, Gold Bond powder, Blue Heron, immodium, antiboitic, etc, etc. Vets can supply you with some of this, but they do often run out of certain things and do not supply things like Blue Heron, linament, etc - so you should be prepared to look after your own dogs as best you can and rely on the vets for unexpected things.
-A mimimum of 20mg per day of Pepcid per dog - and Vitamin E supplements.
- Last year I sent out a dozen sets of runner plastic. I used up about 1/2 of those. The rest were different colors, just in case. They were send home in my return bags - but several of those bags never made back to Wasilla, so they are gone.
-Personal meals, snacks, bottled water, juice boxes, etc, etc can add up quickly. Meals are sometimes available in some checkpoints, but not in any reliable way (except for places like Takotna), so again, you need to be able to look after yourself for the most part. Musher's caloric needs can run almost as high as the dogs.
- Getting my dogs and I home from Nome costs $750.
- Just about any meal in Nome is about $20 per person. Getting out is often not easy, as flights can only fit so many teams. I've been stuck in Nome for up to 6 days before. Even with a host family, things can add up fast.
- I pack a new pair of socks for each drop bag, a change of long underwear every 4 or 5 checkpoints and tons of mini gloves for doing checkpoint chores . You may talk all you want about what are the best boots, best jackets, best gloves, etc, etc, but the best thing you can do to keep yourself warm is to have clean clothing available out there (at least for the layers next to your skin).
- Spare knives, gloves, hats, mitts, headlamps, etc, etc, etc. If you lose this stuff on the trail, you may be in bind, so it is wise to have extra available at least somewhere out there. Yes, alot of it can be shipped back in your return bags, but there are no guarentees that your return bags are going to make it home. I lost about $1500 worth of gear that didn't make it home from the trail this year.

I'm sure if I sat down and looked through my records, I could come up with more items, but this some of the 'often not considered' stuff I came up with off the top of my head.

Also, alot of mushers talk about the 'expense of Iditarod' in terms of what it costs them out of pocket - so if they have a dog food sponsor, they don't include dog food in their expenses. That is not a true reflection of what the race really costs to run then - as sponsors are not always easy to find for everyone.

Karen
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Rogue

USA
1158 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2007 :  01:02:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I haven't raced one of the "big ones" yet; but, I have raced in several mid distance races. When I went to Whitehorse this year for the Quest 300, the cost was about $1000. Now, that is just for the supplies for the race, gas/food money, lodging and entry fee. I already had a sled, all of my equipment (except for some extra pairs of gloves and socks...those are included in the amount above), some snacks/booties, etc. That was just for a 300 mile race. When I run one from home (Fairbanks area), the costs aren't as much. Regardless, it adds up fast. I'm getting better about not packing everything and the kitchen sink...but, I still always send out more than I need.

I do know Quest mushers who have and do run the race with lower costs (as mentioned already)...again, this doesn't include equipment that they already have, dogs, etc. I don't count my kennel cost all year, or food during that time, as I'm paying that anyway, whether I race or not.

Happy Trails!
Tammi

"The more people I meet, the more I like my dogs."
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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2007 :  06:59:41 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Rogue - I can relate and probably a large portion of what I base my judgement on. Three attempts at the John Beargrease mid distance and it's cost a couple of grand each time before all said and done. This is mainly the extra stuff. Lodging and food for handlers (four people plus my wife and then myself at the end of the race is a huge cost an accomodations aren't cheap around the North Shore. Entry fees then all the hundreds of little extras you need just to do the race AND it's almost in my back yard. Just preparing the truck to make the checkpoints is a major consideration. A breakdown could be catastrophic during the race.
Even for me to attend the UP 200, midnight run or the WaWa race(another one high on my list) get much spendier because of the travel time involved.
Friends and relatives are always telling me to "just do it"- My comeback is JUST WRITE THE CHECK!! lol

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it...
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Doug R.

USA
230 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2007 :  02:51:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey, folks. Check this out.http://www.cabelasiditarod.com/coverage_2004/little_mushing_costs.html
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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2007 :  2:21:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great article- that pretty much say it all.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it...
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Doug R.

USA
230 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2007 :  4:06:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It seems like the formula is kennel costs plus about $10,000 plus travel to and from Anchorage. I think that the huge discrepancy in numbers is that some folks include certain kennel costs and or travel costs as part of the actual race costs.
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