My kennel name was born out of a philosophy, more so than a catchy name. Step up means improving, with each season. This does not only refer to the position I place in a race, but incorporates all aspects of my team's life including dog care, kennel environment (quality of life), training schedule and of course the relationship and connection we have with each other. Having a goal to compete with your previous self-ensures improvement!
PS: The kennel name has nothing to do with the movie series. It's just an unfortunate/funny coincidence.
Musher Q & A
My parents acquired two Siberian Huskies when I was a kid, Nikki, and Siku whom we would hook to a sled on the ice roads around Yellowknife NT. They were far from leaders, so the road was the best place to mush. My Dad would drive ahead in the truck and coax the Sibes to follow. Eventually we added more dogs to the kennel and mixed in Alaskan Huskies. When I was 15, I entered my first race, the Underdog in Yellowknife and then in the following year ran the River Runner 100 in Whitehorse. It was in Whitehorse that I learned more about the Yukon Quest and my dream to run it one day began. At that time my mentor Marcel Marin, the founder of the Underdog 100, cemented the dream by sharing stories of the Quest from when he finished in 2005. Fast forward to 2018 when I was 23 years old, I finished the Yukon Quest 1000, a dream come true! I repeated this dream in 2019 which was unreal.
Today I am returning to my roots, living with a small team (8 dogs) and providing the absolute best training and environment I can to them. It is much harder to keep these standards with a larger kennel which is one driver of the small kennel arrangement, along with the connection you develop with your team.
The Yukon Quest has given me so much happiness over the years and I am very excited to be returning this year for another run on the amazing trail with amazing people and dogs!
I name my dogs through themes. For example, Ruger, Tikka, Remington and Spruce, Rose and Juniper. It is enjoyable to name dogs and I really enjoy running dogs that were born in my kennel.
I entered the YQ 100 to get back out on the Quest trail and create more memories. My goal is to place in the top 3 since I believe in my team's abilities. I also believe they will be jumping to go at the finish!
I love the lifestyle it affords me to have. Living in the bush, surrounded by wilderness and a slower paced
environment. On the runners your problems slip away temporarily, it is relaxing.
Dogs also are amazing athletes, extremely intelligent and are an absolute joy to train. They honestly are inspirational and training them to their full potential brings me great pride.
One of my all-time star athletes is Tara. I bought her from Warren Palfrey around the time I switched from Siberian Huskies to Alaskans. She has run in almost every race I competed in since then, including completing 2 Yukon Quests. She is an amazing leader and I hope to have her in the team this year. She is 11 so she will let me know if it's time to retire or hang on for one more season. I have 5 of her pups in the team however so her legacy lives on even if she doesn't make it to the start line.
One side effect of distance racing is memory loss... as in on the trail you are so tired that you often forget people that you have seen or have helped you, or you think that you hallucinated someone! I have seen Christmas lights in the trees, trail markers going in two directions, Santa Clause and many more imaginative things while spending time on the Quest trail. So, I want to apologize in advance for not mentioning people that have helped me over the years, there have been so many.
One situation I can remember was in my first 300-mile Quest. There was a huge hill near the start of the race that had very little snow on it. At the bottom of the hill a volunteer was positioned to catch loose teams. I never lost my team, but I did snap my brake off on that hill. I was so frazzled at the bottom until the volunteer talked to me. He helped calm me down with a friendly talk and I proceeded on my way. I appreciated that person and all volunteers.
Classic Rock (ACDC, Creedence, ZZ Top)
Country (old and new), my current go to is Zach Bryan
Rap (NF, Eminem)
Newfie Tunes, check out "Buddy Wasisname & the Other Fellers"!
This race is largely self-sufficient and does not require much assistance from handlers. I do have someone to thank, however, for help over this past summer and support going into the training season. Louve Tweddell has helped me immensely. Some of you may have noticed that I was not racing last winter. I took a "break" from mushing with a 50/50 chance of returning to the sport. Through what can be explained loosely as fate I am back this year. Louve helped me by giving my team a place to live and train over the summer (after they were returned to me in April) as I did not have the infrastructure to house them. They went to live and work at Wild Adventure Yukon where Louve manages the dog tour operations. She gave me the time I needed to decide what I wanted to do this winter and time to do practical things such as find somewhere to live with the dogs and buy/find gear that I no longer have. I hope to finish the 100 and keep travelling down the trail handling for her for the 250. It's great to have a partner in this sport and I am thankful for the support.
I am on the Yukon Quest board and rules committee and also the current President of DPSAY (Dog Powered Sports Association of Yukon).
- 2018 Yukon Quest 1000; Position: 13th
- 2019 Yukon Quest 1000; Position: 10th
- 2020 Yukon Quest 300; Position: 3rd
- 2021 Yukon Quest 250; Position: 5th
- 2021 Percy; Position: 3rd
- 2022 Yukon Quest 100; Position: 1st
- 2022 Percy 200; Position:1st
- 2022 Underdog 100; Position: 2nd
I am planning to be self-sufficient this winter and currently have no corporate sponsors, but I would like to thank my friends and family for their continued support and of course my brother Zachary Hamlyn for providing me sleds over the years. Zach sleds are the best!