Start to Red Eagle Lodge (Chistochina)- 32 miles
These first three videos are right after the start in Gakona. Normally the Copper Basin starts in Glennallen; however, when the decision was made to set the final race route, there was open water between Glennallen and Gulkana, so the race began in Gulkana, which cut the first leg of the race to 32 miles. In the past, the first section of the race is a flurry of passes and speedy teams, but since our game plan was to travel slower (and we started near the back of the pack), we didn’t have too many passes.
Red Eagle Lodge to Meiers Lake- 68 miles
This section of the trail I ran at night, so I have no videos. In fact, I’ve unfortunately never run this section of trail in the daylight. Chistochina ot Meiers Lake is a 68 mile section of trail where teams cross over the infamous “Hump.” The Hump is a big, bald mountain high above treeline. Even in the dark, you can sense the vastness of the terrain. I can only imagine the grandeur of the landscape on a clear day! Since I always love a good climb, this is probably my second favorite section of trail.
Meiers Lake to Sourdough- 32 miles
This is my favorite section of trail! The trail is narrow with lots of quick twists and turns in thick black spruce. At only 32 miles in length, it's a short fast run and is a refreshing change of pace after the hill workout into Meiers. Since we ran this section in the daylight, I once again have some videos from the trail!
Sourdough to the Point Lodge- 55 miles
This was the first year that Point Lodge was a checkpoint in the Copper Basin; however, for the most part, the route traveled the same trail as in the past. I ran this entire trail in the dark, so once again no videos. The trail was firm, fast and perfect! At the end of the section, we travel across Lake Louise. In a snow storm or at night, it can be very easy to get disoriented on Lake Louise since it’s just one flat, open expanse. Luckily, there were plenty of trail markers- thank you trail crew!
Point Lodge to Finish- 73 miles
Even though we traveled in daylight for the last few hours of this run, I didn’t capture any videos. We had one thing on our mind- to finish! The first part of this section was very similar to the previous section (crossing Lake Louise and on firm, established trails). We then traveled next to the highway for a short while, then turned left onto what I like to call, the Seismic Lines of Death (SLOD). Ok, that’s probably a bit dramatic, but the trail follows exceptionally straight lines for a few hours, which at the end of the race, can feel like you just entered the doldrums. Some mushers swear it’s uphill the whole way. I did check my GPS to see if there was any elevation gain, and it was only probably about 100 feet, but I know the feeling! After mushing through the SLODs, you pop out onto the highway and parallel it all the way to Glennallen. I’ll do individual dog updates, but I have to give a shoutout now to MVD, Cooke! This last run can be mentally taxing for young dogs, especially after taking minimum rest. I wanted to test Cooke by having him run this final leg in lead, and he didn’t just rise to the occasion, he DOMINATED! Ewok, too, led the last 15 miles along the highway, and she was also unfazed. I’m very proud of these young leaders!
A big thank you to Jamie and the Copper Basin trail breakers! It was a brilliant, fun trail this year and super fast! Even the SLODs weren’t too awful :) It’s very unique for mid-distance races to not use sections of trails twice, so thank you to the CB for making it 300 different miles of trail! As always, it’s one of my favorites.