Dr. Jerry Vanek’s medical career devoted to sled dogs has taken him from the southern tip of Chile to the arctic cap of Norway to the southern cape of Africa; from the forests of Maine to the prairies of Minnesota to the mountains of Montana; down the mighty Yukon from Whitehorse to Nome; and to Antarctica. He has served as a Chief or Trail Veterinarian on 100 races and expeditions on four continents including multiple Iditarods, Quests, Beargreases, UP200s, Empire 130s, and White Oak Classics, as well as the CanAm Crown, Race to the Sky, Apostle Islands, Great Trail, Eagle Cap, Grand Portage Passage, Red River, IFSS World Sprint and Distance Championships in America, Norway, and Italy, the South African National Championships, Norway’s Femundløpet and Finnmarksløpet, Sweden’s Amundsen and Polar Distans, and many Midwestern North American sprint snow and dryland races.
In 1993, Dr. Vanek was the veterinarian on the Mount Vaughan Antarctic Expedition and in 2007, 2009, and 2011, a veterinarian on the 1925 Diphtheria Serum Run reenactment. In 2012, he was the veterinarian on the “Sled Dogs to Saint Paul” expedition. A musher since his teens and a former sprint race competitor, he still drives dogs whenever he can. He is an honorary life member of both the North Star Sled Dog Club in Minnesota and the Northwest Sled Dog Association in Washington; a recipient of both the Maeb Bayers’ Lifetime Achievement in Mushing award and the White Oak Classic Musher Tribute award; and past President, Life Member, and charter Board Member of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association.
Over the past two decades, Dr. Vanek has presented over 175 lectures and publications on sled dogs and sled dog medicine to veterinarians and technicians, mushers, school children, and the public. He is the co-inventor of the Ultimate Wrist Wrap for sled dogs and he is a certified canine rehabilitation therapist (CCRT). Dr. Vanek divides his time among his grandfather’s 1881 homestead in Minnesota’s northern Red River Valley; his lake cabins near Bemidji; his retreat with partner Jill on the shores of Gitchigami; and his travels across the globe working and teaching in the service of the most incredible of all athletes—the sled dog.
Dr. Gregg Phillips owned and operated a recreational team of Siberian Huskies for over 10 years. Time spent on the runners with his own team led him to veterinary medicine. He has worked on the veterinary teams for local, national, and international races, including the Empire 130, White Oak Classic, John Beargrease, Yukon Quest, and Finnmarksløpet. Dr.Phillips no longer mushes dogs, but acting as a trail vet allows him to touch the energy that surrounds sled dogs, and to work with colleagues and mushers from around the world. He is a member of the ISDVMA, and currently works at Dakota Pet Hospital in Lakeville, MN.
Dr. Nicole Reynolds is pleased to join the Voyageur Classic again as a trail veterinarian. Dr. Reynolds is a graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and she holds a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology with a concentration in infectious diseases. Dr. Reynolds maintains a strong interest in emergency preparedness and response and critical care medicine and she volunteers her extended training through the Minnesota Veterinary Reserve Corps, the National Veterinary Response Team, and the Region 5 Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT). She is a member of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association (ISDVMA) and she has been hooked on mushing since vet school. She now skijors competitively and when she is not running or skijoring with her one-dog team, she’s in Colorado, traveling abroad, seeking backcountry snow opportunities, or finding any excuse to be active outside.
Dr. Gregg Sonstegard is a mixed animal veterinarian practicing in West Central Minnesota. He owns his own practice and enjoys working with both large and small animals. He is a member of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association, and he has been involved with the North Star Sled Dog Club Races, Red River Sled Dog Derby, the Voyageur Classic, the John Beargrease, and the Iditarod. He enjoys meeting and working with the town's people, the dogs and mushers, and fellow veterinarians. When he has the time, he likes to hunt, snowshoe, and winter camp.
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