Fire: Fire was the maturity and level-headed adult on the team. Her “Gee” “Haw” response was instant, she was unfazed by overflow or water, and she showed total focus amongst other teams, people, or distractions making her an impressive race leader. While Fire isn’t as fast as the younger leaders, she made a perfect pair with either Cartel, Katy, or her son, Ham.
Cartel: Cartel was the cute little white dog that I just wanted to cuddle and baby until she reminded me that she’s tough as nails, doesn’t need extra attention, and will lead the team the tough final 60 miles to the CB finish line. Throughout the race, Cartel was a hard driving loper who kept the team at a nice high tempo.
Katy: Katy truly impressed me during this race. The Copper Basin was her first ever 300 mile race, of which she led over half. All focus and drive, Katy has SO MUCH potential I get the jitters just thinking about it. Numerous people asked me about the little dog in lead, to which I’d respond, “that’s Katy, my all-star 2-year-old leader, named after my mother.” People normally gave me a weird look after that.
Ham: Ham is a powerhouse. All Ham ever wants to do is run, regardless of the challenges that lay ahead. If he has one fault, it’s that he works himself into the ground. The final leg of the race, Ham was a slightly tired and needed a little pep talk only because he tried to single handedly pull the sled for the past 250 miles. Once he learns to go 90% instead of 120%, he’ll be a main man.
Derby: Derby has the biggest heart of anyone in the team. While she’s not the most athletically gifted, she reminded me of the Little Engine That Could. “Quit” is not in Derby’s vocabulary and her positive attitude was a huge booster for the team on this race. I dropped her in Mendeltna only to make sure that she will be 100% healthy for the Yukon Quest.
Fez: Fez did her job so efficiently and smoothly that I never had to worry about her. She was hard-headed and driven with a beautiful, effortless trot. Every time we saw another team, Fez would do a wild scream of excitement, getting the entire team fired up. A real firecracker.
Rucu: Rucu is a force. Most 65 pound dogs struggle with speed, but fast or slow, Rucu kept a tight tug and was always enthusiastic. He’s not a leader, but he was definitely one of the strongest finishing dogs on the team. Like his siblings Supai and Kindi, Rucu was just always happy, which is a invaluable trait in a sled dog. I just love this big guy.
Supai: It was amazing--Supai never ever got tired. Whenever we stopped, his tail would be wagging high up in the air, and he’d bark and bark as if to say, “Come on guys, let’s do this!” He doesn’t necessarily want to be in lead, he just likes to cheer from the team. Always happy and ready to go, this guy will go far.
Kindi: Kindi is just like her brother Supai. She’s always happy, if not a little sassy, and cruises down the trail with a smile on her face. I dropped her in Mendeltna because she just wasn’t running quite right and appeared to be cramping in her hind end. Luckily, she’s back to being 100% and ready to tackle the Yukon Quest!
Niagra: Niagra was the biggest surprise of all the dogs. Leading up to the race, she was dog #12, but after the Copper Basin, she has solidified herself a spot on the main team. Whenever we stopped, she’d immediately start slamming her harness in anticipation to go, which more than once pulled my snowhook from the ground!
Pirate: Pirate is from Amanda Gecas’s Boundary Kennel and has joined us this season to help fill out the team. A 60 lb female, Pirate reminds me of a female Arnold Schwarzenegger. During the CB, Pirate was all business and worked her way up from being in wheel to swing just due to her total focus. I hope Chagga and Earl turn out as good as their momma, Pirate, and pop, Rucu!
Charley: Charley is also from Boundary Kennel and brother to Pirate. He was a hard working, driven wheel dog that put everything on the line. The final 60 miles, Charley occasionally rode in the sled bag because he just worked so hard throughout the rest of the race. There are few dogs that are as honest of workers as Charley.
Riley had an awesome race and gave some insight on the performance of a couple other Ryno athletes:
Perm: "I wouldn't have finished in the top 20 if not for Perm. She was the most impressive yearling I've ever run. She's needs to work up a larger appetite on the trail, but other than that she was a force to reckon with."
Sally: "Sally provided invaluable motivation to the team, and she added a lot of speed on our final run to the finish line. She needs work a little harder when the trail is soft and slow, but that comes with maturity. Her happy go-lucky attitude really benefited to the team."