4th Place!

We arrived last night in 4th Place! Liz is currently still on the trail and about 20 miles out, so we’re very excited to see her and the dogs and congratulate her on her very first race!

Before I talk more about the dogs, I have a few thank you’s. Thank you Derek for handling for me and raking up my messes. Thanks for sharing in my joy when I’d arrive into a checkpoint in a good mood and listening to me whine when I’d arrive in a checkpoint in a not so great mood. Thank you Tom for handling for Liz, driving the truck, and always being a positive, smiling person. You have Dad’s ability to meet new people everywhere you go and become instant friends. I think you now know far more people in the mushing world and Glennallen area than I do. Thank you Mom! Updating the website, especially from Durango, can be a real challenge. Thanks for being awake at all times of the day and night to keep everyone informed. And to the Schell family (Liz’s family), thanks so much for all the great photos and big smiles. I’m so glad you were able to travel up here and be a part of this race with us! Finally, I would say thank you to the dogs and write a long paragraph about how wonderful they are, but they can’t read (at least they play dumb), so instead I’ll say thanks with food, walks, and pampering.

Whew! This race was a doozy. Due to various conditions, the trail was almost always slow. But wow, the dogs did incredible. Whether it was the warm temperatures, fresh snow, or drifts, the trail was a slog, but the dogs powered right on through in good spirits and positive energy. I wish I had a fraction of their athletic ability. Last night I had to have Derek make me a special cramping concoction as my hamstrings cramped up from all the standing and peddling. Meanwhile, Uno and Wingman who had just run 300 miles, were prancing, barking, and being their in-your-face (borderline obnoxious) selves. You honestly couldn’t even tell they’d just finished a 300 miles.

Cartel ran the entire race in lead with Goblin. She was a rockstar, per usual, and is a great co-leader. She seems to effortlessly float over the snow and helped up keep moving down the trail even when we were swimming in snow drifts or soft patches.

Goblin ran the entire race in lead with Cartel and dominated. He loves the ladies (and Boone and Wombat were in heat), so I did have to keep an eye on him at stops, otherwise he wanted to turn around for a visit. But when we were moving, Goblin was an unstoppable force. Such a powerhouse!

Lefty ran the entire race in swing with Wingman. I still have yet to see him tired. Sometimes before we left a checkpoint, I’d walk each dog around to stretch their legs and use the bathroom before we hit the trial. Lefty would jump up off the straw and practically drag me off my feet.  

I’m very impressed with Wingman. He ran in swing the entire race with Lefty and was always super focused. Sometimes the young dogs can struggle on the last run because they’re a bit tired and the trail is a straight, never-ending seismic line. Not Wingman. Go, go, go. Plus he has a beautiful trot, and he’s a monster eater. I’m pumped about his future.

There’s a reason why Perm has been the mother of our last two litters, and she proved once again why she’s such a great dog. NONSTOP energy. Bark bark bark. Every time we stopped, even if it was 8 hours into our last run, she’d be barking and rolling in the snow. She’s such an energizer bunny and has one of the smoothest trots around. During the last run, I paired her with Uno for a bit, and it was fun watching the mother/daughter pair dominate.  

I dropped Jana at the first checkpoint of Chistochina. She was still the tiniest bit tight in her shoulders, and running through soft, punchy snow for the next 250 miles just seemed like a bad rehabilitation technique. Jana didn’t seem to mind being left behind though. She’s one of the dogs that loves running and will want to keep going forever, but also finds much enjoyment in a nice bed of straw or a couch, so a truck ride sounded just fine.

Wombat ran in team with Boone. She found a nice, smooth trot and maintained a super tight tug the whole time. She was the tiniest bit sore in Mendeltna after our 10 hour run, so I decided to leave her behind. Like the other two-year-olds in the team, I’m really excited about Wombat’s future. Every time we left a checkpoint, Wombat was barking and lunging.

Boone oh Boone. She’s such a hard driving dog and performed incredibly, but for whatever reason, she just doesn’t like to eat. She finished the race skinnier than I’d like, but her attitude was as high was a kite. Every time we left a checkpoint, Boone would start barking and jumping up and down, and I’d have to be careful walking by her or else she’d snag my parka in all her excitement!

Drummer was solid. She’s getting a bit older (she’s six, which isn’t really that old), but I can tell she prefers not to run as fast as in her youth. This worked out well since we weren’t moving very fast in the first place! She ate everything and always did her best.

Katy did wonderfully. I ran her in team and never in lead because she had the minor wrist at one point from the punchy snow. She always had a great attitude, ate well, and seemed to effortlessly glide over the snow. She loves to give kisses while you take off her booties, and for whatever reason, I really looked forward to our little interaction at the end of the each run.

Uno gets the Most Surprising Dog award. My expectations for Uno were truthfully pretty low because of how distracted she would get during our training runs at home. She was a last minute addition, mostly because I wanted to see what she could do. At home, Uno is always outside her house, running around, moving and barking, so I was curious if that high energy would translate to a tireless racer. And it did! Wow. Her endurance really impressed me. Even when we arrived in Mendeltna after a grueling 10:30 run, all the other dogs bedded down but not Uno. She was digging a hole, flinging snow everywhere, rubbing her face in the straw, pawing her partner Supai, scratching her back on the snow, and being ridiculous. She pulled hard and had a great attitude. Looks like Uno just needed a change of scenery and had gotten bored with our home trails.

Supai did fantastic. Supai and Perm were the cheerleaders of the team. He ate everything in sight and was a great mentor for Uno, who he ran with the entire time. Supai did ride in the sled bag on the final run because he was starting to develop a shoulder soreness. It was nothing major, but I just wanted to err on the side of caution.

Well, Liz just reached the roadside and is 1.5-2 hours out. We’re headed to the finish to cheer her on! We’ll have more updates later! Thanks to everyone for following the race! Woot woot! 4th Place!!