"It has been a really awesome summer. Margot and I got married in a small mountain ceremony on August 16. It was a perfect day, she is an incredible girl and I am a very lucky guy"
Joar Leifseth Ulsom has a big smile on his face. He is happy and in love, and can look back on a romantic and wonderful wedding, that was also streamed live online, so that their families could follow the ceremony.
READ: HELLO AUTUMN
Joar and Margot have spent part of the summer on a 130 mile bike trip on the Denali highway from Cantwell to Paxson, and several short river float trips. 17 new puppies, from three different litters also saw the light of day at Sivo Racing Kennel this summer.
A lifelong dream
Joar has also had the time to fulfil an old dream.
"I was finally able to put in the hours and take the tests for my private pilot’s license land and sea. I am absolutely thrilled about it. Living in the Greatland, a plane or a river boat can be as essential as a car in other places. We don’t have many roads here. Next summer, I'm very much looking forward to doing a lot of flying and exploring. I have started working on my instrument rating and commercial license. My goal is to use the mushing off season to work as a pilot"
A great group of dogs
This year, Joar has 25 dogs in training on the main racing team. The youngest dogs are two years old and the oldest dog is eight years old. Of this team, only nine dogs have finished Iditarod before and three have started Iditarod but were returned home.
"Only about half the group of dogs that I am working with now have long distance experience. The other dogs, except for the two year olds, have race experience from the Kuskokwim 300. Despite this mixed bag of experience, I feel that I have a great group of dogs to work with. Training has been going well and I am very excited to see how they develop going into this winter."
Joar's goal for this season is to bring a team to the starting line of the Kuskokwim 300 and the Iditarod.
"I hope we'll have a good chance of winning"
CHECK OUT: A BULLETPROOF SETUP
There are many long distance races Joar loves, which bring back fond memories.
"There are many great sled dog races out there. Together with the Iditarod, the Kuskokwim 300 is one of my absolute favourite races. It’s the hardest and toughest race I know. Steep competition with very challenging weather and trail conditions. Bethel is also a fun place to go, there are wonderful people involved with that race."
My routine is the same
Despite the pandemic, Joar's life in Willow has not changed that much. He is not worried about the races getting cancelled.
"If they are cancelled then that’s just how it will go. I really don’t think they will be cancelled, it sounds like race officials are making very good plans to adjust to the reality of the situation."
"Otherwise our life here in Willow has not changed that much. My routine with the dogs is the exact same one. Margot still works full time as a veterinarian in a big 24/7 hospital with something like 56 employees. They have put in a lot of admirable effort to keep everyone and their families safe. She’s the hardest worker I know. We stuck to a pretty tight group of friends before the virus and we still see them; in some cases just outside around the fire or on a hike. Definitely the hardest thing for us is going so long without seeing our families."