Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Run Photo's

Back to the brother got a few pictures from this morning's run. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring Kennel Pictures

A refresher on the dogs in the kennel:
Belle - a Mouse daughter, 3 yrs old in May.

 Biscotti - 2 yrs old in June. Father of Prim.

 Brownie - 2yrs old in June.

Frost - Mouse yearling.

Jersey - 6yrs old and still the cheerleader of the kennel.

Jingle - Mouse yearling.

Kuchen - 2yrs old in June

 Legolas - 6yrs old in June. (Whoa! Has it been that long? It seems like yesterday when I brought home this crazy/shy yearling from WA!)

Mambo - Father to Achilles, Odysseus & Nester (his first litter). 'Tough as nails' pretty much sums him up.

Mocha - 2yrs in June. A black Legolas!

Mouse - 11yrs old and still likes to go for a run. I'm honored to have her, eight of her pups and one grand-pup in my kennel.

Nibbs - this old guy's as happy as ever. I don't know if he'll ever truly grow up!

Peppermint - Mouse yearling. Going to make his brother Razz work for "smoothest dog on the team" award!

Razz - 4 years old. The yardstick of the kennel in confirmation and gait...and appetite and attitude...wish I had a whole team of him!

Summer - 5 years old (already?!!!). My strongest and biggest female...runs best next to Nibbs because she'll never grow out of puppy stage!

 Sweetwater - 3yrs old Mouse daughter. Having pups didn't slow her down at all!

Urchin - my Alaska Siberian. Will be 4yrs old in September and always takes everything in stride.

Zoomey - 6yrs old. I don't know if she'll ever get over being shy, but she gets better and better every year I run her.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fun with the Pups

So it's been a while since we've checked in with the pups...they're four months old now.
 Biscotti visited by Odysseus.


Odysseus, Nestor, Achilles and Prim

Handsome babysitting.


Odysseus & Achilles

Prim - just about the perfect mix of Biscotti & Sweetwater you could ask for...and she know's it!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Eagle Cap Extreme Part 2

    When I got into Ollokot, shortly after I got the dogs bedded and fed, Laura and I talked - I was surprised to learn that Brett had left with a very short rest. However, I wasn't too concerned - figuring we'd make up time towards the end...after all, there's two styles of racing and I wasn't going to change mine just because he was doing the other.
    We left about an hour after Laura, I think, with the hope that this second run would put me out of Ollokot (where we had to take a 6 hour mandatory layover) in the afternoon rather than having to run through the heat of the day. It was a beautiful run and I wasn't too asleep when we got back to Ollokot!
    I worked on Mocha during our 6 hour layover and got some sleep, but after consultation with the vet decided to drop him. After all, a wrist injury on a yearling could develop into something more since they're still growing and he's so good I didn't want to risk anything.
    Leaving, the dogs were barking and happy - and I had switched leaders in the hope of giving my good old Legolas a break. However, it was hot and the dogs, going up steep hills in the sun, kind of went into a slump a 1/2 hour out. We motored through it and by the time we got to the portion of the leg we'd run on our 2nd leg the hills seemed steeper (I really think they grew overnight!!!) but the dogs were moving better than any of the teams we saw - even coming down. I think that was where we may have made up a bit of time on the 2 teams in front of us...but I didn't look too closely at that; I just knew the dogs were doing awesome when we got back into Ollokot for our final rest.
    I was very tempted to leave without a rest, but I really wanted to get a wet cooler into them and needed to drop Kuchen, Mocha's brother, who seemed tired - though he was still barking to go. Again, it was one of those decisions that could go either way, but I didn't want him to learn he could slack off for the last 50 miles!
    We had an hour or hour and a half to make up on 1st place and although I had trouble leaving Ollokot, as soon as we turned the corner out of the lights and on the trail home, the dogs really cruised. I tried helping them up the hills but they didn't appreciate it - it was too dark to see, but I'm sure Summer and Nibbs were rolling their eyes when they looked back at me when I gave them some help - telling each other I was more of a nuisance than a help!
    I did roll the sled down a steep embankment shortly before I stopped to give them their wet cooler and remember it woke me up a little...and had me worrying I had a sopping dog food/meat mess in my sled. But I didn't; so that was good. Still, trying not to fall asleep was a challenge. I chewed gum, tried music and telling myself we were close to the teams ahead...but to no avail. What finally got me alert was peppered beef jerky and having to concentrate on changing the batteries in my headlamp...and realizing I was just a few miles from the scary ski slope at the end. If you remember last year, I rolled the sled and had quite a time getting down - I had to have help.
    This time I started down with tugs on, but we still ended up dangerously close to the left-hand edge of the trail cut slightly into the ski slope. So I stopped and pulled the leaders over to the far right and unsnapped tugs. This helped but we still would've ended up rolling down if Urchin hadn't pulled Mambo over to the right after I frantically called, "Gee! Gee!"
    We cruised into the finish line and dogs like Summer were wiggling like puppies, not ready to be done racing. I had made up quite a bit of time but still remained in 3rd place. However, I couldn't be happier - this was the first race I had had a full 12 dog team (last year I ran with 9) and it had been very encouraging to have seen the dogs race exactly as we'd trained.
    The next morning I was reunited with Kuchen and Mocha (we beat them to the finish!) and at the evening's award banquet, was awarded my second best cared for team award. There's a lot I could say about what I learned, but I think one key thing I realized during Eagle Cap this year was that there's a lot more to racing than training a team and showing up. There's a race team mindset that I need to develop to be more competitive. For one, although I believe I've learned to better read my dogs since Alaska, I still need to stop underestimating them - they're far tougher than I give them credit for and, as I've noted before, I'm by far the weakest link!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Eagle Cap Extreme Part 1

    After more than 1,000 miles of training, without seeing another dog team, the dogs and I were eager to get to race. Eagle Cap is the best race I've ever run - well organized, the whole town treats you like a celebrity, and a blast for mushers and handlers alike.
    We got to the vet check early and it was good to see old friends before the school kids came down to meet the dogs. Even shyer dogs like Belle get excited and like to show off for the elementary kids.
   Vet check done, we checked in with our host at a bed & breakfast before going down for the community potluck/bib draw. I drew 3rd and before the end of the night also dropped off my 3 drop bags so I wouldn't have to worry about them in the morning...the start was at 2pm, so I wanted to allow myself and the dogs an easy morning. That evening I had a quick call in to Scott to go over my race strategy and, my schedule set, went to bed.
    A dog sled race is a lot of "hurry up and wait." But with Eagle Cap there's lots to keep you busy, besides getting my sled ready for a 200 mile race...

The View:

Dropping dogs for one last time to stretch before we hook up:

I had help packing my sled:

Mingling with the school kids:

And, finally, the hook a hug to my littlest handler at the start line:

    It was very warm at the start. I watched my stopwatch and kept the dogs to a trot as we moved into the afternoon. When it's that hot if you let your dogs go all out they'll be burned up and exhausted...while my team moved better as the run went - moving quicker into the night.
    We got passed by some of the 8-dog 100 mile teams and I was appreciative of the kind words from Bino Fowler, who has always been very encouraging to me - the year he came in 3rd for Race to the Sky 350, I came in 3rd for the 100 mile Jr Race to the Sky and we raced the weekend later at the American Dog Derby. I almost crashed going around a tight corner shortly after he passed me and he gave me a "woohoo!"
    When you stop on the trail to snack, you always want to keep it short - because for every minute you're stopped, the other teams are moving - gaining 2 minutes on you. So when I stopped to give a wet cooler at 6 hours, I knew I'd made 8 minutes at least on two 200 mile teams who'd I'd passed earlier...which was nice to know, even though they beat us into the checkpoint. One nice thing about having run the race before is that I know a little better what to expect; but the last few miles by the river always seem the longest, because I kept expecting the checkpoint to be around each bend...and it never seemed to be!
    Ollokot is an amazing checkpoint with great volunteers. It's also the only checkpoint in the 200 mile race and is run by the best volunteers. This year I also got to see my brother there, who was shooting video footage for a proposed sled dog documentary. Here's some pictures he took:

To be continued in part 2...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Update

    So the races are over and I'll get started on posting those stories I promised...but first, here's some pictures:

And two videos of the team on Youtube: