With two racers in the Summit Quest 300 and one in the Iditarod, the team at Dew Claw Kennel has their work cut out for them. 

Based in Chatanika, approximately an hour north of Fairbanks, Dew Claw Kennel is run by husband and wife Dan Kaduce and Jodi Bailey, a pair of affable adventure seekers whose lanky frames may seem more conditioned for cross-country running than cold-weather mushing. Both Bailey and Kaduce are competing in the SQ300, after which Kaduce will pack up and move on to the Iditarod. 

Running two teams in a race means “double everything from expenses to stress,” Bailey said. Add in the third longer race, and things get a little crazy. 

Additionally, handlers have been hard to come by this year due to COVID, but Bailey said a fantastic local has stepped in to help. 

A photo taken by Kaduce shows no fewer than 80 drop bags lined up out outside the couple’s cabin being sorted and stuffed for the three races.

“Fun, that’s not a name I apply to drop bags,” Bailey said.  

All 23 dogs running in the Summit Quest are candidates for the longer Iditarod, and the teams were tailored to fine-tune their training. 

“Any of them that had any issues this year, for the most part, are in Jodi’s team, because she’s gonna plan on taking a little bit extra rest,” Kaduce explained. 

Bailey also will start the Summit Quest with 11 dogs instead of the maximum 12, allowing one the opportunity recuperate. 

“There’s never a point in running a dog who’s not 100%,” she said. 

Both teams are mostly young and new to racing, so the Summit Quest is being used for experience. 

“The vets have to check them out, and they’ll be having to sleep next to dogs they don’t know in other teams. It just gets them used to that whole scene,” Kaduce said. 

While the pair is not very competitive with each other, they are not racing in tandem, and the main goal is to improve the kennel. 

“If you happen to see us in the same place at the same time, that’s accidental,” Bailey said. 

That applies even on Valentine’s Day, which will fall on the second day of this year’s race. 

“Chances are good we won’t know what day it is when it happens anyway,” Bailey chuckled. 

“Maybe we’ll spot a heart-shaped dog turd in the snow,” Kaduce chimed in. 

Contact Robin Wood at medianorthak@gmail.com