Yesterday afternoon, the yearling team and I crossed the finish line of the Old Mail Trail 200, marking the first mid-distance race for the yearlings! I couldn’t be more proud of the pups, especially given the 40-50F temperature. It was as if overnight, winter had ended and spring had arrived, followed closely by summer. By the end of the race, the team was running through puddles, and my sled was dragging through muck and thawed tussocks. While initially I was disappointed by the rapid end of winter, I have to admit, I rather enjoyed wearing sunglasses, sunscreen, and a light jacket rather than two neck gaiters, a beaver hat, and a tightly cinched fur ruff.
So how did the yearling athletes perform?
Brant- Brant was rock solid. A couple weeks prior to the race, I questioned whether he’d make the team simply because he overworks in the beginning of a run, leaving little energy for the end. Eventually he learned how to pace himself and was a valued member of the team this race! He ran mostly in wheel and was a real cheerleader.
Eider- Eider was one of the best yearlings in the team the first leg of the race. He ran in swing due to his focus and drive. During our 8-hour mandatory layover at the halfway point in Manley, Eider flirted with Fire for the bulk of the stop, meaning he missed out on critical rest time. His lack of rest took him off his A-game for the second half of the race, but hopefully it was a lesson learned.
Fenton- Fenton is a powerhouse. He drove hard the entire race, and even with his size and thick coat, Fenton seemed to handle the heat better than most of the dogs. He was never distracted, always excited, and rested well at each stop. CHAMP.
Lefty- Lefty is the weird kid in gym class who everyone thinks would be uncoordinated, but then surprises everyone by sinking 3-pointer after 3-pointer on the basketball court. In other words, Lefty is easily overlooked and half the time he’s chasing birds or watching for moose, yet he’s perfect at his job and seems to find it incredibly easy.
Coot- Since the first day in harness, Coot has been one of the most focused yearlings, and this race was no exception. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Coot look around or become distracted. Head down, swift trot, Coot is always in the zone. He struggled the most with the heat but still always gave 100%.
Drake- Drake ate everything, always pulled, and loved every second of the race. He occasionally struggled with the heat and would pull the entire team over to “dip” snow, but other than that, he was a main player in the speed of the team. He’d be the cocky jock in high school that is exceptionally gifted but knows it.
Belle- Surrounded by the 50-65 pound boys, Belle is the little tomboy of the bunch. She held her own and was eager to go every time we took a snack break. Her trot is smooth and effortless, and she’d get particularly excited whenever we were near other teams.
Overall, the Old Mail Trail 200 was a huge success. Riley and the adults placed 5th with Riley earning the Sportsmanship Award. The yearling team and I finished 10th, earning the famed Red Lantern for the last team across the finish line! A big thanks to all the volunteers and race staff of the Old Mail Trail 200. I really enjoyed the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. We’ll most certainly be back next year!