Craig Medred

With the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race about to launch, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) -- a longtime race critic -- is emailing national media with its "Iditarod Facts.'' PETA claims dogs "are forced to run an average of more than 100 miles per day" in the race and notes that "at least 23 dogs used in the Iditarod have died since just 2004.'' The PETA press release does not mention that 22 of those deaths came prior to the year 2010, or that the only dog that has died since then perished in a freak accident at a checkpoint after the animal was dropped by a musher and left with volunteers who were supposed to care for it. The dog was outside in a snowstorm when it became buried in snow and asphyxiated . After that accident, the Iditarod changed drop dog procedures to...Craig Medred
General -- the disabled Husky puppy from Fairbanks so cute he tore people's hearts out -- has found a new home. Owner Andrea Huisman went looking for help after she recognized that supporting a puppy with no front legs would be too much of a struggle for a newly single mom with four children. Huisman revealed her predicament on Craigslist and the world responded. Huisman spent almost a month vetting hundreds of people who wanted to help General, before announcing on Facebook that she'd finally found an ideal place for him close to home. "...We are extremely happy to announce that General has finally found a new home!!'' she wrote Thursday at General the Huskaroo , General's very own Facebook page. "His new family is big, funny, loud and amazing! Just what we were looking for... They have...Craig Medred
Mallard ducks on Wednesday were paddling the ice-free waters of Chester Creek along the ceremonial route of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race through Anchorage's university-medical district. Nearer downtown, there were puddles of standing water along the route. But there looked to be just enough of an icy blanket frozen to the asphalt of the Chester Creek Trail and connecting bike trails to speed dog teams to the Bureau of Land Management's Campbell Airstrip on the lower Hillside. Where the ice cover was lacking, municipal employees were hard at work with snowmachines, sleds and shovels as they transported and then spread snow collected earlier in the winter on bare areas. Iditarod CEO Stan Hooley said earlier in the week he was confident Anchorage city crews could pull off the 11-mile...Craig Medred
A 36-year-old Anchorage cyclist has absolutely shattered the record for the time it takes man or beast to cover the 350 miles of Iditarod Trail up and over the Alaska Range from the headwaters of Cook Inlet to the Interior community of McGrath. Oh, what a difference the weather makes in Alaska. Even first-time Iditarod Trail Invitational champ John Lackey sounded shocked Tuesday upon his arrival in McGrath in 1 day, 18 hours and 32 minutes. Lackey took 10 hours and 11 minutes off a cycling record set last year, which was itself a record by more than 14 hours. More than that, he was about eight hours under the fastest time ever posted by the superdogs of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on the first stretch of Alaska's most famous trail. "I thought it was going to be a fast year,'' a raspy...Craig Medred
Alaska is continuing to clamp down on the use of drones to aid in hunting and fishing. The Alaska Board of Game, which sets wildlife regulations, a year ago approved regulations blocking hunters from using remote-control aircraft to locate big game , and the Board of Fisheries has now moved to prohibit commercial fishermen from using drones to spot schooling salmon. The latest action came Sunday at the Fish Board meeting in Sitka. Board members shot down the use of drones for economic reasons. Sitka public radio station KCAW reported that board member Reed Morisky was fearful drones could put some pilots out of business. "I'm for keeping pilots employed and not using unmanned aircraft for fish spotting,'' the station reported him saying. Board chairman Tom Kluberton agreed, according to...Craig Medred
All alone high in the Alaska Range on Monday, cyclist Andrew Kulmatiski was blazing along the historic Iditarod Trail at a pace hard to believe. Veterans of the Iditarod Trail Invitational human-powered ultra-distance race put him on pace to pedal a fat bike into the Interior village of McGrath in a time faster than that of any dog team in the history of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. A one-time road racer from the state of New York and now a professor of wildland resources at Utah State University, the 42-year-old Kulmatiski is a rookie in the Iditarod Trail Invitational race to McGrath but no stranger to Alaska. He spent several years teaching at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He was being chased up the trail by defending Invitational champion Kevin Breitenbach from Fairbanks,...Craig Medred
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, the second-largest after Wrangell-St. Elias, is also the second-worst national park in the nation, according to a Fox News' list of "America's Worst National Parks, " coming in right behind South Carolina's Congaree National Park. Among the criticisms raised: • No "real gates.'' The only gates are natural. The area the park covers was named by legendary conservationist Robert Marshall in the 1930s . He thought the Brooks Range mountains near the head of the North Fork Koyukuk River formed a natural gateway to the Arctic plains to north. • "No roads." Guilty. That's what makes it one of America's true wilderness parks. • "No trails." Actually, no human trails. The park is littered with caribou trails and in the mountains, with Dall sheep...Craig Medred
Just to the north of Alaska's largest city, the true hard men and women of the Iditarod Trail on Sunday headed north from the old port of Knik in a race against time and weather. Out ahead of them somewhere, Bill Merchant, the organizer of the Iditarod Trail Invitational, was pushing a trail up Rainy Pass and through this year's supposedly impassable Dalzell Gorge, which is passable because almost anything in Alaska is passable for the fit, skilled and determined. Behind Merchant, the Iditarod charge was to be led by a gang of fat-tire bikers who, with a little luck, might well set a record on the 350-miles of trail over the Alaska Range to McGrath in the Interior. Thirty-two-year-old cyclist Kevin Breitenbach, bike shop manager for Beaver Sports in Fairbanks, covered that distance in a...Craig Medred
The modern day wizards of weather know exactly why the climate conspired to unleash February rain and floods on Alaska -- a state once mocked across the nation as " Seward's Icebox ," is now proclaimed as the climate-friendy "place to be" in the 21st century by The New York Times. Blame an aberrant jet stream that has taken to swirling south from Asia into the Pacific Ocean tropics, where it grabs a load of warm, moist air and then heads north to deliver it to Alaska, with predictable results. On Tuesday, the high temperature in Anchorage, the state's largest city, hit 40 degrees -- 11 degrees above the norm. The low was 30 -- 15 degrees above the norm. The Anchorage Fur Rendezvous World Championship Sled Dog Races, a big deal in the 49th state, have been canceled for lack of snow. So,...Craig Medred
As a gang of Alaska snowmachine racers Wednesday celebrated their arrival at the Nome halfway point of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog wilderness race, a couple of competitors from Outside were 115 miles back along the Iditarod Trail in Golovin trying to repair a pair of snowmachines that Tuesday went down like submarines. Dieter Strobel from Minnesota and Randy Gravatt from Idaho were just lucky that when their ships sank the water was only about waist deep -- if you can call being up to your waist in water in 15-degree temperatures lucky. “It wasn’t too bad,’’ Strobel said when reached by telephone in Golovin , a village of only about 150 people on a spit between Golovin Bay and Golovin Lagoon just off the Bering Sea. The Iditarod Trail -- followed north from near Anchorage by the Iron Dog and...Craig Medred