Mark Gillett

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Archive for February 2012

The Yukon Quest – A Goose Eve

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Here is a piece I recently wrote to finalise my Quest trip… I will repost it here in a few days too…

Lance Mackey

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I thought about the title for this piece and thought a bit more… Then a bit more and all I could come up with was Lance Mackey. There is so much about this man and the more time I spend on the Quest, the more I notice.

I just watched him pull into Braeburn, his face hardened from the tortuous journey but not just that. It seems to tell his whole story without a single word. His eyes are a piercing blue and with that thousand yard stare that so many of them have at this stage. His hat sits in the same way as it did the day he set out, his beard at the same length. But everything is a little bit rougher than 9 days ago. His voice drones a bit more because of the tiredness but what does not seem to change is the real Lance. The deep down man who has a passion for life that exists in so few people.

Lance Mackey has seen his fair share of life’s problems. Most would say more than his share and I think I would agree. But to look at him at this stage of the race he certainly shows no signs of the hardships he has had to deal with.

He sits in Braeburn with his team around him but still willing to chat to anyone. He eats his lunch or is it breakfast for him? I am sure not even he knows. Whilst in here my wife watches his videos from the Livestrong series. She cries inside. This man has touched her in the same way as he has touched so many people with what he does and who he “be”.

I remember back to the interview at the bar “a beer with the mushers”.. And his comments on how he would do in the race… “one in 24” was his reply… I have asked him 4 times since and now we are down to “one in 20” with a laugh after he says it. Lance is a true competitor and a real sportsman too. He focusses hard but also cares about the world around him. The beauty that the Yukon and Alaska has given him. His team…. Everything about life.

I will follow Lance to the line. Who knows right now where he will finish but one thing is for sure, he will win. He never loses in life and he has a great following for good reason. I am sure there will be many tears when he crosses the line yet again.

Lastly, his sponsor Canada Goose has a series of people on their list called Goose People. Lance fits proudly with this brand and their philosophy. I would be proud to have Lance as one of my ambassadors if I was in that line of business. He is a great man…….

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February 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Brent Sass and His Team

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I just watched Brent Sass preparing his dogs for the next leg of the Yukon Quest, from Peli Crossing to McCabe Creek. I watched in awe of how he is with his dogs…  He had a bag of booties and told someone how he bought 4000 of them before the race. 4000 at 85cents each… Thats a lot of cents! 

He then attended each dog taking the paws one by one and checking them for soreness or injury. Not just checking though, he took each paw and pushed gently checking between the claws. He then would kiss the dog and give it a hug, then slipping on a bootie and tying it carefully.. Each foot painstakingly checked and cared for. Each with a new bootie for the next leg of the journey and all to be repeated again very soon.

Brent shows his team the respect they are due for without them he would not figure in the race. If he did not care for them he would not be cared for by them. But more importantly if he did not care it would eventually bite in the rear in some way…

He chatted to some of the photographers with passion too. Never too busy to give of himself. Never too tired even though he had not sleep much for the last 8 days… Never too focussed that others don’t matter.

Brent is a kind of special competitor.

He is not alone, though as this race seems to breed special people and strong teams.. I have watched other in the same way and they are different from other sportsmen that are so often too obsessed with themselves and non caring. The Yukon Quest has some real stars.

Last night I watched Lance Mackey arrive at Stepping Stone, stop for a Burrito and  then checkout.. He had no reason to chat but did… But that is another story and my next….. The race continues…

The rest of Brents team…

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February 13, 2012 at 1:06 am

Yukon Quest Latest Video

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February 11, 2012 at 2:14 am

Dawson City… Yukon Quest Halfway Post

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Images of Dawson and our time in the City….

We are now into our last day in Dawson City and I find myself not wanting to move on. Its a beautiful town at the base of Midnight Dome on the Yukon river. This time of year the river is frozen over and bridges to the community on the other bank but come spring the bridge disappears and only with a long drive can you get you to the other side… The town is made up of traditional western style buildings and walking the streets brings back memories of series like The Virginian and High Chaparelle. Its the most gorgeous city and not one to spend only a few days in.

Our hotel, the El Dorado is typical with a large bar, simple dining and pool tables at the back. There is also the Downtown and for eating the best lace in town must be the Drunken Goat whee the food is just perfect.

Its now -20 degrees and in a few months the river will flow again, the paddle steamer will fill with tourists and the hills will be a lush green with hikers and walkers roaming the paths.. I want to come back and see the spectacle of the river breaking and spring taking hold but know I won’t have time this year. Perhaps next.

Now my mind is back on the Yukon Quest and getting our images out for the organisation and the videos made to help promote the race. A race that is now well and truly in my blood.

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February 11, 2012 at 1:37 am

A night on the Quest…..

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Well, here I am at 7 am.

Sleep was between 3 and 5am and now I am trying to force my body into action each time a musher approaches.. Not easy, I can assure you.

Its relatively quiet in the press room with only a handful whereas last night it was heaving with press, cameramen, radio people as well as tourists who have come to watch..

The quest seeps into my blood more each day. Having run endurance I understand their need to complete this. Their thirst for finishing, thirst for winning and their desire to push themselves to the limits of human endurance. The hardest part is the mental. They will be feeling exhausted and elated at the same time. Physically drained yet energised with the power of their achievement. Their minds will be playing games. “Why?” “What for?” “Never again” and usually only minutes after finishing in Whitehorse they will be talking of their next race….. But what makes these guys special is that they also need to care for their team . 12-14 dogs that need feeding, sleep and looking after. This make this event far tougher than met I have witnessed….

We have another week or so on the journey to Whitehorse and who knows who will take the prize. What is clear is that all are winners.

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February 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Mike Ellis, YQ Hero…

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I met mike the for the first time in 2009 and I was so impressed with his team and his attitude…. Of course, he did not remember me… This year I got to interview him after his withdrawal. Obviously very sad at the fact he had to pull out but not without good cause. So for 2 beautiful minutes he told his story. Well done, Mike. You are a star!

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February 9, 2012 at 7:27 am