March 30, 2011 —
Justin High, of Hudson, has finished his qualifiers for the 2012 Iditarod. Since the last article Justin has finished two more races to finish his qualifiers; the Willow-Tug 300, starts in Willow, AK and runs to Skwentna, AK to Knik, AK and the Two Rivers 200 that begins in Chatinika, AK and runs to Chena Hot Springs, AK, in the Interior of Alaska close to Fairbanks.
“The Willow-Tug 300 was a real challenge for me and my dogs,” High said, “A bad trail that really took a lot out of my dogs to breaking a runner on my sled. We went out at the start at a super fast pace, led by Yangtzee. We had 13th start position and moved up to 3rd place in the first 10 miles. For my puppies that I was running was a real fast pace for the start of a 90 mile run. After we got the pace back under control we got into some real bad trail that just had 2 feet of fresh snow on and just broke out the day before the race.
“We got to the first check point at Yentna Station Road house on the Yentna River. After a 6 hour rest we took off to do a loop to Yentna to Skwentna and back to Yentna again. With 40 miles still to go on the run we made it to Skwentna and was on our way back when I stopped to snack my pups when a moose came out behind me. Yangtzee was at lead and he loves to try to chase moose. He turned the team around and took off after the moose. Fortunately I was able to grab the line and stop them, but the flex on the sled broke a runner.
“After I recovered the team and got them straightened back out pointing the right direction we took off down the trail with me standing on one runner. But, we made it back to Yentna for a long rest. We took 10 hours and I fixed my runner so at least it wasn’t going to fall off but it still was no good to steer with. We left for the finish but 15 miles into the 75 mile run one of my big young puppies came up with a sore shoulder, so he was going to get a 60 mile ride into the finish line. We kept on trucking though and made it in to the finish line after about 12 hours on the trail coming in 19th place.
“The Two Rivers 200 was a much easier race on my team. A warm and sunny race with temperatures reaching the mid 30’s during the day it was quite warm for some of my bigger dogs, which just slowed them down a bit but they still powered through the heat. The only mishap on the race happened at the 150 mile mark after my second layover. Leaving this check point I missed the turn for the 50 mile run to the finish line and went about 15 miles out of my way. By the time I got the team turned around and back on the right trail the team thought it would be a better idea to go back to where we just came so we went back for a little more food and a bit of a nap. Just an extra 32 miles on the 200 mile race, but the team was used to 300 mile races so they thought it was nothing new. We pulled out of the check point again and made sure we got right on the correct trail. And made it in to the finish line in 9th place.”
Now that Justin High is qualified for the 2012 Iditarod he still has a lot of work to do in order to be able to run the race next year. The major part of this is fund raising — the average cost for some one to run the Iditarod is about $20,000. Major expenses included the entry fee of $4,000, dog food, and shipping of supplies to checkpoints. It takes a lot of equipment to stay warm and dry in the Alaska wilderness.
Also two sleds will be necessary, one to run the first half and another back-up sled that is shipped out after some of the more dangerous sections in case the first one breaks. There will also be work to do such as training his team which begins this spring with getting puppies ready to replace retiring dogs, or team members graduating up to his boss’s team (Dee Dee Jonrowe. who finished 12 in her 29th Iditarod this year).
Justin will be home in May for his brother’s graduation and will be doing a fund raising potato dinner and silent auction at the Hudson American Legion on May 25th. There will be Alaskan art, race memorabila and many other items for auction. You will be able to meet Justin’s lead dog Yangtzee who will be making his first trip out of Alaska. He will have his merchandise for sale at the dinner, but if you are ready to help support him now you can buy a “Pursuit of Adventure” T-shirt on his web site www.highsadventure. com, or call Bryan and Lynnette High at 517-448-8374. The shirts are $20.00 and if they need to be mailed $4.95 for shipping