Saturday, March 19, 2005

Martin & Kathy Buser .. A TEAM to remember!!

Photo from Happy Trails Kennel

The road to success is paved in many ways -but teamwork is one of the most predominately important and hard to accomplish. To win takes courage, endurance, tenacity, resourcefulness, grit and a healthy dose of luck. All of these traits can play against teamwork... just as much as they are integral to it. So, when a team does succeed, it stands out. Stands tall. Shines.

Whethere the team is one made up of well bred and trained dogs or humans, the success they achieve is only through consistant, pre-learned traits: ingrained, if you will into their very being. Nothing comes between the team and the goal. This is what puts us in awe of real teamwork.

Martin Buser and Kathy Chapota are just such a team. Married, with 2 fine sons, and owners of Happy Trails Kennel, they exude the team spirit. Just like the athletic dogs they raise and race, Martin and Kathy can pull their own weight individually and know when to leave the lines to the other when necessity arises. They also possess one of the rarest of 'team traits', they inspire others to become part of the team. This is where the team goes into greatness.

I don't know Martin or Kathy beyond a brief 3-hour meeting with them both at their operations last October (2004) and what I read reported on them over the years. But what I have observed - from both sources - combined with observing people in all walks of life for 30+ professional years - tells me this couple is an exceptional blend of, 'All the right stuff.' When people speak of them, they speak with respect. Why? Because both have worked hard to earn the respect. Their actions - in the good times and the bad times - have shown they base themselves on a purpose and/or goal, far bigger than themselves. They constantly exemplify the confidence that only comes with knowing they have nothing to prove; don't need to prove; enjoy their life; and live that life fully, with respect and awareness of the responsibility they have in remaining but a small part in the greater scheme of life. This is what many refer to as humility. And being that they are so - they will be the first to deny anything special about them or what they do. This is one of the reasons they are so well liked -by so many.

This is what makes the Busers such great spokespersons for the Outdoor Heritage Activity they make their life: dog sledding. The Busers are professionals and they are responsible (unusual note for dropped dogs). They have shown themselves credible. They continue to exhibit integrity - no matter the conditions. A commodity of great price - rare and hard to maintain. Credibility, like honesty, integrity and loyalty ... is won through hard work and dependable responsibility. It takes a lifetime to develop; only a moment to loose .. and is even harder to keep. Yet, it is worth every ounce of effort.

One does not remain at the top of 'the game' (remember LIFE is the ultimate 'game' ) long unless you are doing something very right. 'Roman candle winnners' may be exciting to watch, but they are not whom you want to pattern your efforts upon. Just like in the investment business. A risky venture can bring you ruin just as likely - if not more so - than it can riches. Investment therefore, is best done for the 'long-haul' --with vision and determination to be around long enough to reap the benefits of your efforts. When dealing in the realm of teamwork and success - where people are involved - the stakes are even higher and the losses even more devastating.

We can all learn lessons from the teamwork shown between the dogs in a sled-dog team .. and the teamwork between the musher and his/her dogs. Honor. Respect. Loyalty. Trustworthiness. Dedication. Determination. Love. Obedience. When we find human TEAMS that teach us this, too ... we are wise to slip into their tracks and learn how they made them so solid; so easy to follow; so welcoming. We are even wiser to realize they will not last; that they are only templates for our own learning. Soon they will be gone. If we want to continue in such 'good track', we must learn how to make them ourselves. Once we do, then one day, we, too, will provide 'track' others can use as highways to learning as well.

That in the end is the real purpose of TEAMWORK ... Winning in order to Pass On the KNOWLEDGE of HOW and WHY working as a TEAM is important in the first place. This is the only way society will continue forward in a sustainable future. The ONLY Way.

Thank you Martin and Kathy for being you. It has already spoken volumes for itself. And it's encouraging to know - it continues on.


Scdoris, Ellering .. Winning Combo!

Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage

Scdoris, Ellering recount Iditarod trip
by Jon Little

NOME, 1:30 p.m., March 18, 2005

When Rachael Scdoris’ dog team finally made it to Eagle Island, the Bend, Ore., dog musher was so wrung out from muscling the sled through soft snow that she cared for her team, shuffled over to a wall tent and collapsed into her sleeping bag. She didn’t move for hours. ...from Cabelas Idiatarod Coverage Online

Paul Ellering and Rachael Scdoris talking to the
media in Nome's convention center.

As I said before .. Rachael Scdoris is a WINNER, by any and all standards. No slack should be given toward Paul Ellering either. It's had to imagine a veteran musher having the patience to take on a rookie without any limitations, let alone one who has so much media and politics attached as well as limits. And all that binds him in total responsibility for safety and security. Paul Ellering is a good man. And as the Marines are well known for saying, 'they are hard to find'. But there's no doubt, Rachael will find herself among the mushers of Iditarod 34 in 2006. GREAT!!

This was a great story in the 33rd Running of the Idit .. but it was by no means the only one. And I must say, "Hats off, Saluds and Kudos" to Jon Little, the no-doubt frazzled, by smiling like the Cheshire Cat, journalist who pounded the snowy and 'not-so-snowy', lonely, wind-swept and heart-pounding trail to bring us all the latest information on the Iditarod Race.

Cabela's did a good thing in putting Jon on the trail of the stories for their web site. He has performed with the professional moxie of the very teams he's covered. So a BIG, Hearty -

"Thank You!!" to Jon Little, Iditarod Journalist Extraordinaire!!

More later ...


Friday, March 18, 2005

Iditarod 2005 - Women make BIG contributions and presence : Kathy Chapotan

Dogs rest in White Mountain.Kathy Chapoton praised at White Mountain

Dogs rest in White Mountain
Photo by Danny Seavey

Mushers arriving at White Mountain are usually puzzled enough after enduring long runs at the end of along race. They're as tired as they will get. So imagine the odd feeling they must have had upon arriving at this second-to-last checkpoint in a snowstorm only to be greeted by virtually no one. No one, that is, except a few local residents, Martin Buser's wife, Kathy Chapoton, and some tourists Chapoton enlisted to help. Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage: "Scdoris scratches at Eagle Island" ... by Jon Little

Allllll Riiiiightt K A T H Y !!! Now this would be a great story in itself. Kathy - on the way to meet here husband - musher Martin Buser - at the far-out checkpoints of the Iditarod, gets socked in with bad weather - and makes the best of it by being the 'champion' of the hour for every musher coming through remote White Mountain. Of course there is no one else there - but that also means you have to a LOT more than you would normally. Either way - it was a 'BIG JOB'. Therefore - BIG THANKS !

But too boot - she IS Martin Buser's wife!!! That means Happy Trails Kennels had three (3) major human participants in the race: Martin Buser bib #78, John Hessman, bib#51 and Kathy Chapotan, bib#Chief-Cook & Bottle Washer!! From all indications, she was a happy and jovial -to be around- as her musher-hubby Martin. What a pair!!

I do believe this would pop Kathy into a shoe-in for the Louis L'Amour 'Woman to Ride the River With - Award' !! Hands down. Now we know WHY Happy Trails Kennels is so successful. No offense Marty .. you look good on the trail and mush dogs better than most - but Kathy is better looking and is a One-Woman-Army! That is ONE THING no one messes with - for sure! You are one lucky guy to have her on YOUR side. Don't forget the flowers and goodies .. she deserves 'em !!

"THANKS TO YOU KATHY!" from all of us in the 'from afar' range of viewing the Great Race - by paper, magzine, internet and TV. Your efforts were appreciated by those who were in your presence - in that hard-tme on the trial.. Your example, too, shall kindle fires for years to come.


Iditarod 2005 - Women make BIG contributions and presence : Rachael Scdoris

NOME, 11 p.m., March 16, 2005

Rachael Scdoris, who followed through on a childhood dream of running the Iditarod, despite being legally blind, has ended her first attempt more than halfway into the race. Scdoris opted to scratch at Eagle Island, one of the most remote and often bleakest points in any Iditarod." Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage: "Scdoris scratches at Eagle Island" ... by Jon Little

Ahhh .. Maaaannnn!!! NUTS! I was pullin' for you RACHAEL! But, I guess Mother Nature has been pullin' against all the mushers this year. And being the last one up the trails, I can only imagine just how 'messed-over' they would be for you.. "8 ( That would be hard on your dogs; having to literally drag the sled over soggy ground. Not good. Not good, at all!

Regardless, though - you are a real winner anyway. I am really proud of you and your acomplishement in this race: just getting into it if nothing else. I can imagine you dad is really beaming with pride for you. Hey, you're young yet. You'll be back next year - and no doubt for several years. And I can see you winning the Iditarod in not too many years as well.

As I said in an email to your website, I and many others will be watching you, Rachael. You have a great future in front of you. It will be a beautiful scenery to behold. No doubt!!

Great race. See you next Iditarod.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Iditarod is Won - but NOT OVER!

Cabela's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Coverage

Robert Sørlie with his two lead dogs, Sox and Blue, at the finish line.
Photo by Jeff Schultz.

Sørlie holds off Iten to claim 2nd Iditarod
by Jon Little

NOME, 10:30 a.m., Mar. 16, 2005

Robert Sørlie broke trail for more than 500 miles in what surely must have been one of the most sweltering Iditarod’s ever, barely holding off an impressive late charge from Bush Alaska musher Ed Iten to win Iditarod 33. The win, the second in three years for Sørlie, returns the championship trophy to Norway.

Well... the first 6 places are in - Robert Sorlie has Won the 33rd Iditarod and it is his 2nd time. Congratulations to Robert for a race well ran. He led from the beginning, despite bad weather, some trail troubles, and stiff competitors surging him - even to the very last. Still he held the lead and won.

But don't forget - there are still 61 mushers and dog teams out on the trail; in the bad weather, poor trail conditions and exhaustion. Sixty-one fellow participants of the Greatest Race on Earth .. and partakers in one of the last great Outdoor Heritage Activities left on earth: in one of the last 'wild places' as well.

My friend, Marty Buser is still on the trail - currently in 12th position; as well Jeff King (whom I've met and know professionally) in 11th position. They are among the 'next wave' of mushers who will be scrambling across the frozen surface of the barren north in crusted snow and ice, to get to the 'glow of Nome'. But they are not the last .. there are still mushers to come into Eagle Island - like Rachael Scdoris, in last place - 67th - but ever bit the energetic winner she is.

Pray for their safety. Pray for their good judgement. Pray they have a great run. Pray for their teams. Pray they will want to return again next year - to once again afirm the necessity of having 'wild places' to access - in which to do those things 'wild'. For it is peole like the mushers of the Iditarod who keep the Outdoor Heritage alive in us all. Thank them all those who participate and promote the Outdoor Heritage Activities - year-in and year-out.

Another musher will soon be crossing under the "Finish Line Bow" at Nome. Let's all be glad for it ... and pray it will never be lost. Let's all work to keep places 'wild' where mushers and dog teams will find snow and cold to challenge them and keep them coming back, year-after-wonderful-year.


Cabela's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Coverage

Cabela's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Coverage: "2005 Leaderboard

1 Robert Sorlie
2 Ed Iten
3 Mitch Seavey
4 Ramy Brooks
5 Bjornar Andersen
6 John Baker
7 Paul Gebhardt
8 Lance Mackey
9 Jessie Royer
10 Jeff King
11 Martin Buser
12 DeeDee Jonrowe
13 Aliy Zirkle
14 Doug Swingley
15 Jessica Hendricks

Well folks, that's the standings on the Iditarod's Top 15 positions from the Cabela's Iditarod web site. What a switch in two (2) days! Marty has fallen to 11th place (was 12th until he left the manditory 8 hr stop in Elim). The front six (6) are running a snow grinding race for the finish at Nome. I don't know how close they are yet .. but the Nome Cam shows it is 7:06:17 AM AST .. still dark but people are beginning to gather for the finale to what has been a really interesting race.

The weather has been a major factor. So have unexpected mishaps and errors. But this is the best race I've observed in a number of years. And it is all made so much better with the ability to gaze upon the hourly progress of the mushers via the Internet. I can only imagine what the 2010 Ididtarod Race will be like. Dog-cams; musher podcasts; virtual dog-teams .. who knows. One thing is for sure .. the weather could turn this into a wheeled sled race instead of skis !!!

There was also considerable talk this year about the lack of preparedness by race officials. The trail in many places out past Iditarod were not even prepared, forcing the leaders to be trail busters as well. This benefited the positions from 15 to 25 a lot. They were not forced to expend the energy. This could account for the swell of new faces in the Top 6 places.

However, nothing is taken from Bob Sorlie .. the 'Mighty Norseman'. He has led this race from the very 'get go'! Amazing race he has run. Unless he just keels over - he should have the 2005 Iditarod trophy in his hand within an hour or so .. to take back home with him to Norway.

If you want to watch the Crossing of the Finish Line .. then turn your browser here a LIVE STREAM from ABC Alaska ... it should be neat.

I do hope Marty Buser makes a good run to finish low in the Top 10. We'll have to see when he crossed the finish line.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Martin Buser - lost dog = lost 2 hrs

Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage: AWOL dog costs Buser a couple hours
by Jon Little

EAGLE ISLAND, 7 p.m., AST, March 12, 2005

Martin Buser waves his arms in a kind of hula, indicating his sense of the ridiculous. Buser actually lost a dog on the way to Eagle Island. - Cabela's Iditarod - 2005 Race Coverage story 03.13.05

Well.. as I've said anything can happen on the Race trail .. and to the most experienced of mushers. One of the KEY things I read in this article about Marty's 2-hour goose-chase, was when he said, about his lost dog, Quebec, "He's a good dog, and I decided to have a good attitude about it". This statement reveals a man who can roll-with-the-punches. He's tough as nails - proving that by racing with this injured hand - and continuing in the Idit Race business for over 20 years, but Martin Buser is also a class act. He could have come into the checkpoint at Eagle all mad and making excuses, but instead he comes in characteristically jovial and joking about the mishap. Noone was hurt. Only time was lost - not a LIGHT THING EITHER .. but he was NOT going to let this get the better of him or his dogs. Because Marty knows, the dogs will 'feed' off of his attitude - therefore he keeps it High.

This is an exemplary example of the Outdoor Heritage. Where those involved realize they are not the objective and the cool-head, clear-mind, focused-on-the-goal-at-hand attitude, will WIN in the end. More importantly - will survive.

Good luck Marty ... you've already won in many categories. Let's see if "Buser #5 in 2005" is yours this year as well.