NAME: E'vette Levett
PLACE WHERE I TRAIN: I live on a farm in Northern Victoria so most of my training is on tracks alongside the highway or on unsealed roads in the area. It's very flat around here so we're not very good at hills. The advantage is our roads are well maintained clay roads and it's generally dry through the winter, Oh and my neighbours are all great and tie their dogs up so I don't have unexpected issues training.
DISCIPLINES: Dryland and Snow sledding, Skijor (and Dog Showing). I've run classes from 1 dog to 8 on Dryland and snow and 1-3 dog skijoring.
DOGS: I currently have 18 Alaskan Malamutes in residence the majority of which are my own breeding. My seven precious veterans ; Sera, Genna, Midas, Seven, Sasha, Betty and Misty. My current race dogs (some who I show in spring and summer); Argos, Eden, Loki, Holly, Delta, Aliy, Jonah, Judah, and the three youngsters who are yet to have a harness on ; Aura, Kiba and Jericho
WHEN DID YOU START MUSHING: I bought my first Mally in 1995 and my interest in mushing was an immediate consequence. This was further fuelled by reading Gary Paulsens book 'Winter Dance' which a neighbour lent me. I made a scooter and some harness and used them to exercise my two dogs my Mally Ben and my Australian Cattle Dog Zac around the block after work. My first race was in 1996 with Zac at an AMCV event but i was busy being a workaholic back then and didn't really hit the mushing scene till after 2000 when I started my own business and had more free time.
THE BEST RESULTS: My best result would have to be winning the 8 Dog class at NVSDC Race 3 back in 2012 (we also won the NVSDC point score for the 8 dog class and also the 1 dog class that year) and 3rd place in the four dog class at the Nationals in 2014. Running Mals my priorities are always to have clean runs, look after and have fun with my dogs and fellow mushers and maybe try for first Mally honours so any placings are completely unexpected and normally because some of the faster teams have had issues. I do have a lot of red lanterns in my collection hehe
MY HARDEST SLED DOG RACE: running my 6 dog mini team at A5k maybe in 2010, it was slushy and a hard slog through soft snow, carrying the sled through big icy puddles that saturated my boots with cute little dogs that were not the greatest sled dogs on the planet and certainly not motivated that year. If you asked me a year ago I would of said Falls Creek because of the steep hill but that paled to insignificance next to Baw Baw this year and despite the long hilly track and slow non hill climbing lead dogs I had Baw Baw was an awesome track to have run and the dogs and I had a blast out there.
THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT DURING A RACE: Definitely at the start and any downhill or windy sections. Better yet downhill, windy sections on snow with a big team of gorgeous flying Mallies.
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT THE SPORT: mushing is such an awesome sport for all skill levels, ages and (mostly all) dogs and regardless of where you place you cannot help but have fun out on the tracks with your dogs. I love sending newbies off for their first runs at training days and see them come back with huge smiles and then watching them progress with the sport. I love seeing the dogs get so excited at the mere sound of harnesses rubbing together (enough sound to cause my whole kennel to go into hysterics) and counting down to take off. I especially love the Pee Wee's and have had the immense pleasure of seeing some of these great kids grow up to run their own teams with huge success (and with much more to come I have no doubt). The sport is addictive and immensely enjoyable for everyone involved. It has so much to offer anyone who loves being active with their dogs.
FAVOURITE RACE: Any race is a great day out, snow races even better and I love the Interstate races I've been able to get to but I think my favourite race is the Saturday heat at Falls Creek. The people partying in the streets, cheering on the dogs from their balconies and bars. Sailing along the aqueduct at night looking down over the village and flying down the bowl. It's a very special race where the dogs are celebrities and we can truly showcase the sports to the masses. Mind you I love Dinner Plain as well and now Mt Baw Baw, Wild Dog and our own NVSDC Classic. Each race has things that make them unique and special and I look forward to new races springing up across the country we can go and experience. It would be nice to get that lotto win so I could get to more races interstate.
WHY SLEDDOG RACING : I've always had a strong affinity with animals spending my formative years training and competing with horses and teaching people to do the same. When the bond between you and your animals is so intuitive that they will do anything you ask without question just because you asked and sometimes only hinted at is what I really love about this sport. I remember having an eight dog fight out on the trail, I broke it up and lined them back out but they weren't finished their disagreement and Mallies do love a good fight (I always say they are barbarians, they like fighting and eating and preferably like to combine those two activities). I was standing in a circle of eight big dogs ready and hungry for battle and the only thing stopping them was me pointing at them and telling them 'don't you dare'. We finished the race without further incidence and in many ways that was probably our biggest achievement of all.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU TRAIN: I work with my dogs every day but fitness training doesn't start till temps drop normally late March early April. I start with smaller teams so I can give the dogs more individual attention and then build bigger teams as the season progresses. Generally Monday's and Fridays are rest days and I run teams the other days normally at night by moonlight or torchlight through the winter. In my early years I ran distances up to 75km and was caught up in the romance of the long distance Races overseas but all it did was teach my dogs to pace themselves and considering our short winter and spring geared racing I now sprint train my teams. This year I was devastated after losing a couple of my dogs and then injured my back so we were way behind on our fitness training and it certainly impacted our season. Hopefully next year we will be back on track. I have some lovely young dogs to work with.
THE SPORT IN AUSTRALIA: It's really good to see the sport gaining momentum and new clubs and races starting up. I would encourage all mushers to do their bit and help run at least one event. We have some wonderful new mushers with enthusiasm and great skills to bring to the sport and awesome experienced mushers who have been here since it all started with a wealth of information behind them. If we all work together this awesome sport will continue to get bigger and better. A huge congratulations to those in Qld, Tassie and recently NSW for getting new clubs going in recent years. Canicross and Bikejoring are new sports with massive potential and I believe will become stand alone sports in the future.
I'd just like to thank everyone who has been apart of my mushing experience to date. There are so many wonderful and generous people in the sledding community some truly great dog men and women. It is always a pleasure to be on the trails with you all and to see your awesome dogs fly by. See you all in 2016.