Tomorrow morning, we’re loading up and heading down to Glennallen for the Copper Basin 300!! Between the hospitality, community involvement, and spectacular trail, this race is one of our favorites! The race will be slightly different than in previous years. Instead of Mendeltna being the last checkpoint, The Point Lodge will be the final stop before the finish line in Glennallen. Also, the race will begin in Gakona instead of Glennallen. We’ll have two teams in the race (myself and Kalyn) with a rockstar handling crew of Derek, Jezzy, and Sasha for my team and Saeward, Bill, and Blue for Kalyn’s team.

To follow along, Saeward will be updating the Ryno Kennel website (when internet service permits) as well as the Ryno Kennel Facebook Page. Copper Basin 300 also has an active Facebook page. The local KCAM Radio site has streamed the start and the finish in the past (http://www.kcam.org/). And while they’re our fierce competitors, SP Kennel (http://spkennel.com/blog/) and Moira, as well as Smokin’ Ace Kennels Facebook Page do a stellar job updating throughout the race as well!

So the title of this blog post is Goals because I’d like to provide some insight into our race planning. While it’s probably not the smartest to lay out our game plan on the internet, I doubt my competitors take the time to read this blog two days before the race, and truthfully, even if they did, sled dog races are more of a personal endeavor. I mean sure, we want to win and have full bragging rights at the musher get-togethers, but at the end of the day, it’s the dogs and my own inner dialogue who I have to live with every day. Meaning— we’re not going to “race” the Copper Basin. We’re proud of our track record (3rd, 2nd, 1st, 4th), and we’ve come to think of the CB as “our race,” but I’d really like to have a personal best in the Yukon Quest this year. Now there are plenty of teams who have proven to be competitive in both, but we’re not one of them…yet. When I say we’re not going to race the Copper Basin, I’m not implying that we’re headed out there for a camping trip, but we won’t be traveling at 11 mph. This season we’ve been training slower than in the past, and the big, older guys have thrived. So goals for the CB- take the minimum rest of 18 hours, maintain a steady pace, and strengthen the dogs already solid foundation. Oh yeah, and have FUN!

I normally wait to post the final race roster, but our goals go along with who is in each team, so the teams will be:

My Team:

Goblin- He’s a main leader and instrumental in our races. He’ll most likely start in lead with Cooke, who is an up-and-coming rockstar leader.

Cooke- Cooke is the only 2-year-old on my team. Pros: he’s driven, leads, and has the maturity of a veteran. Cons: he’s a high burner and doesn’t have the strongest appetite to begin with. I’ll be treating this race as a test to see how his appetite reacts over the 300-miles.

Ewok- She’s the whole package. Eats, loves to go fast, leads. When we stop, she’s the first to curl up and lie down; however, when it’s time to move again, Ewok is up, alert, and zeroed in on the trail ahead.

Jana- Jana’s racing career is one of the longest in the kennel. Now that she’s seven, her hard-driving nature might be considered a disadvantage. Sometimes I wish she’d stop loping and just settle into a nice easy trot. She wears a t-shirt with handwarmers and gets lots of shoulder massages to help make sure she stays limber and spry in her slightly older age.

Perm- She’s her normal self. Loud, flirty, sassy, firey. Oh yeah, and she’s in heat. Should be a fun race :) But sarcasm aside, Perm is an important member of the A Team on all races.

Cartel- At 7-years-old, Cartel’s performance has been on a sliding scale this season. Some days she’s on her A game and does her power trot. Other days she jogs next to her neighbor with a less than tight tug. But I love her. And she’s cute. And she thrives in competition. We’ll see how this Copper Basin goes as to whether she still loves racing or if she’s putting in a transfer to the couch at the end of the season.

Rucu- After a rocky season last year, Rucu is looking great. He’s like Jana in that he works harder than he should. I wish he’d tone it down a notch occasionally. He’s one of the athletes who has benefited from our slower pace this season. I’m hoping to keep him happy and healthy so that he’ll be in contention for the Quest team.

Fenton- Fenton had a super goofy gait at the beginning of the season, and I struggled to pinpoint the cause. After x-rays, vet visits, and chiropractic work, he’s back at it and has a nice, smooth trot. He has less miles than the rest of the crew, but it seems to suit him. The CB will be a good test to see if the Quest is in his future. I sure hope so because this guy is a beast.

Lefty- Lefty is great. He’s big and slower and loves the training program this season. He’s pretty key to our 1000-mile team since he’ll literally lead ANYWHERE. Through that open field off trail? Check. Across that open creek? Check. Over Eagle Summit in a white out blizzard? Check.

Supai- Supai had a slightly sore right wrist for a bit in training, mostly because he insists on only running on the left side and driving off that wrist. We’ve been retraining him to run on the right side occasionally and give his right wrist a bit of a break. He looks good. Eats everything. And is the first dog in the team to start screaming to run.

Yuker- Yuker is a monster. Literally. In a good way. He’s a high burner, but eats well and works hard. This will be the first time I’ve raced with Yuker, and I’m pumped to watch him dominate. He’s certainly in contention for the Quest team. He runs in a traditional harness, whereas everyone else runs in a half-harness, which causes a few tangles occasionally. But that’s ok, because it’s Yuker and we love him.

Fish- Fish has had a super solid season. She’s always excited to run and works hard. Her trouble is her eating habits. It’s not uncommon for her to skip a meal here or there, meaning keeping a good weight might be a challenge on a 1000-mile race. That being said, after long runs, she does normally eat ravenously, so the CB will be a test to see if her appetite picks up on the races, like I suspect it might. In which case, this little goofball just might make the Quest team.

Kalyn’s Team

Crunch- Crunch has had a fantastic season. He has a few obnoxious habits while running (he loves to dip waaaaaay off the trail for a bite of snow and yanks his partner with him when he goes), but his silly antics in every day life make him irresistible. He’ll be a main leader for Kalyn, which is an exciting promotion!

Katy- Bombproof. She’ll be Kalyn’s go-to leader.

Boone- She’ll be another leader for Kalyn. She doesn’t always overtake teams well, so that’s why she’s starting in swing. Boone occasionally balks if she’s in lead, the trail is narrow, and she has to pass another team. Kalyn will be watching her eating habits closely to see if she has a strong enough appetite for the Quest team.

K. Louie- Louie has had a great year. He has good weight, a good attitude, and beautiful trot. He’s a little more sensitive than his siblings, so I’ll probably give him another year before pushing him with a 1000-miler. That being said, you never know!!

Wingman- Wingman is perfect. He hasn’t been leading as much as he did in early season training, but he has good weight, eats ravenously, and is pumped about life. He’ll most likely be on the Quest team.

Uno- Silly Uno has a 5-minute recovery time and has never been tired a day in her life. She’ll be a good cheerleader for Kalyn’s team. She’s also holding weight better this year than in prior years.

CJ-CJ will decide what she wants to do for the remainder of this season. If she’s pumped about racing this CB, then odds are she’ll run the Quest, but some days I think she’d rather take it easy. We’ll see! I love her playful attitude that she brings to the team, so I hope she decides that she wants to race!

Nile- He’s a superstar. He has a fluid trot is so focused. Nile is a good eater, but since he’s 65 pounds and only two-years-old, he’s a string bean. Nile also shows leadership qualities. This will be a great first 300-mile race for him.

Vanessa- Vanessa is a no-nonsense, hard worker. She has Perm’s sass but isn’t quite as confident yet. Vanessa runs near the back of the team because she will get distracted by other teams behind her. Even though she’s not as confident, she’s tough as nails.

Amelia- Amelia is really strong. She eats, has good weight, and motors down the trail. She’ll be a main team dog in the future.

Wombat- Wombat is enthusiastic, energetic, and pulls more than her fair share. Wombat is in contention for the Quest team.

Badger- Like his bros, Badger is a rockstar. He likes to sleep in (I sometimes have to call him out of his house for breakfast), but bring the harness around and he’s fired up. He’s going to be an amazing 1000-mile dog.

Of course, the teams are always subject to last minute changes! You’ll notice two adults won’t be running CB: Elmer and Flash. Elmer is probably one of the strongest two-year-olds and is maturing into a wonderful leader, but he’s been battling a sore wrist from these hard trails. He’ll be sitting this one out. Flash is enthusiastic and a cheerleader (although not the hardest puller in the yard). She too had a sore wrist earlier. It hasn’t bothered her in a few weeks, but we decided to err on the side of caution. Both will be very upset to be left behind, but it’s with their best interest in mind!

Thanks to everyone for following along. I’m going to stop typing on the computer and go out and finish up packing and drop bags! HERE WE COME COPPER BASIN!!