Whew! Like Ryne, there were a lot of ups and downs. We started off with a bang, just behind Ryne and cruising at an incredible pace. However, after a difficult run into Mile 101 which included breaking my bar brake on top of Rosebud, descending almost 3,000 feet screaming like a banshee while trying to keep my sled on its side and taking some wrong turns, we were all feeling a little mentally maxed out. On top of that, Pirate and Derby both came up with sore shoulders and had to be dropped. While this was a set back, after a nice 6 hour rest, the team looked great, and we were ready to run up and over Eagle Summit. The dogs were super jazzed for this run and sped to Central in under 4 hours!
Leaving Central, I planned to camp along the way, but a couple hours into the run, the dogs were cruising, and I started to consider going all the way to Circle, 73 miles away. About 6 hours later, the dogs were still going strong, and we made it into Circle in just 8.5 hours. With this being only their second 300 mile race, I was beyond impressed with them.
In Circle we took 8 hours of rest, and headed back to Central for the finish line, completing the 2016 Yukon Quest 300’s last leg with the second fastest time after Ryne. I couldn’t be more proud of my team. The Yukon Quest 300 is a challenging race, both physically and mentally, and to see the team run faster and pull harder for the last 73 miles of a tough 300 mile race kept me grinning all the way into Central.
Niagra – My wonderful leader, little Niagra is not the best at passing, but kept Goblin from taking wrong turns, so they were kind of a yin and yang duo up there. Along with Goblin, Niagra was one of the most vocal dogs on the team and would get annoyed with me when I’d have to stop the sled going up Rosebud or Eagle to catch my breath. She’s also the best snuggler!
Fenton – This boy ran in swing for a whole 300 miles and barely batted an eye. I was a little worried about running him in swing the whole race, but he was very comfortable up there and seemed to enjoy being so far up in the team.
Coot – Coot was an invisible dog, and if you know anything about sled dogs, that’s one of the best kinds of dogs you can have. He always pulled, always ate, and never had any problems.
Eider – Ryne asked me to take Eider along to see what he could do, and I was a little skeptical, because he hasn’t been all that impressive this season, but Eider proved me wrong and worked hard for half the race. Since Eider hasn’t been on as stringent a training schedule as everybody else, he finally got tired after going over Eagle Summit and I decided to drop him in Central, but he put in an impressive 150 miles.
Derby – I was so, so bummed when I had to drop Derby at Mile 101. It was one of the (several) times I almost cried during this race. Derby is one of my favorite dogs, she’s goofy and weird, and works her butt off all the time, and I definitely feel the space when she’s gone from the team.
Sally – Oh little Sally. I think Sally may be getting ready for retirement at the ripe age of 3. She did well, but you could tell that she was daydreaming about lying on the couch, next to a roaring fire. One thing that always impresses me about Sally, though, is her drive over hills. Any hill we hit, she gave it 150%!
CJ – My sweet, sassy, trouble making Calamity Jane. Earlier in the season we’d had some doubts about CJ…ok, even later into the season (she can be a little distractible on the trail), but she really shined on this race. She has a steady, smooth, effortless pace that I love watching mile after mile.
Belle – Belle is one of my absolute favorites and I was devastated when she came up with a sore shoulder as we ran into Circle. I rubbed her down, and since I didn’t have a heat pack t-shirt, I had to MacGuyver a solution. I put some hand warmers in a glove and vet wrapped it to her shoulder. She looked funny, but ultimately it worked and she finished happy and strong, jumping all over Ryne and Tessa when we came into the finish line.
Brant – Brant is one of those dogs that makes a strong connection with his musher and trusts what you say is possible even if he’s skeptical. There were a few times on this race where Brant was definitely skeptical, but he trusted my judgment and hit that finish line like a ton of bricks.
Pirate – I love Pirate (from Boundary Sled Dog Kennel). She’s a big female who works her butt off and doesn’t take sass from any of the boys! Along with being a hard working dog and a great eater, I know I can rely on her to get us from point A to point B, even if some of the less experienced dogs are having a tough time of it. Unfortunately I had to drop her due to a sore shoulder at Mile 101.
Charley – I freakin’ adore Charley (from Boundary Sled Dog Kennel). I call him my little (quite the misnomer as he’s one of the largest dogs we are currently running) Eeyore dog. While Charley isn’t always the fastest dog, he was a speed demon on this race! He pulled hard and fast over any terrain this race threw at him.
Goblin – We borrowed Goblin from Sebastian Schnuelle’s Blue Kennels, and he ran 300 miles in lead! He didn’t always want to take the correct trail, but he was a freight train passing other teams, barked anytime I stopped, and was always spunky leaving checkpoints.