Monday, February 22, 2010
First of all... a huge 'Thank You' to Peg Hendel for coming along to support me andto love and enjoy the dogs. Little did I know that Peg would turn into an excellent handler, though I prefered to call her my Husky Hugger. Within minutes Peg picked up the routine and was right by my side as if she had been in this role numerous times over. A very trustworthy partner loved by me and the dogs.
We had a great ride up with our traveling companions Kim and Kelly Berg. Several stops along the way to feed and water the dogs aswell as ourselves. The lack of snow along route was somewhat concerning and as we pulled into Greenville there really wasn't too much snow around. The air temperature was frigid and the wind was outrageous. There were signs of a fresh couple of inches, but really, they were struggling for snow too. The start of the race was moved from Moosehead Lake to a few miles up the road to a quarry where we could access better trail conditions.
The parking area was somewhat icy and both Peg and I had to step carefully around the dogs so as to try to stay on our feet! I knew for sure that I would take a tumble when it came time to hooking up the dogs to the gangline and sure enough, half way into it.... I fell backwards like a ragdoll. I managed to cup my head with my hand and took the impact of the fall on my upper body with some pulled muscles in my shoulder and chest. The EMT was quickly there and all I wanted to do was get back up on my feet and head to the start line as I was drawn Musher #1 and I only had 15 minutes to go !! I was pretty sore during the race, there was no time to take pain killers..... just had to get on with it.
So, I asked for an ATV to hold the sled and team so we could make it safely to the start line. Peg stepped up and took my leaders and marched us to the start. She was full of confidence and again, Peg just seemed to know what to do and I was happy to let her get on with it. Such a lot of cheering at the start, especially being the first team to blaze the trail though before we could do that and just as the countdown was happening, Tonka decided to take a dump infront of the crowds! Much to everyone's amusement, he didn't care... when you gotta go, you gotta go!
The race was great, it was fast and extremely scenic. Some steep uphills and downhills though it felt more like uphills most of the way. The wind continued to blow strongly which really helped to keep the dogs cool. I had set a goal of 3 hrs 15 minutes for us and couldn't believe that we crossed the finish line in 2hrs 55 minutes. Outstanding for my fuzzies and fluffies. There was only 43 minutes between the fastest and the slowest team.
The dogs loped to the finish, in great shape. Peg, who had done a great job in guiding us to the start line, was now at the finish ready to guide us back to the truck, but first, I had to ask for a few volunteers to sit on my sled so as to slow the team down over the ice.
The cold wind was exhausting at times, it would freeze the water in the food bowls in just seconds and it meant that we couldn't always just hang out with the dogs as the dogs were keen to get into their boxes and we were equally as keen to get into the truck.
Fond memories of a wonderful trip with Peg and friends. The dogs exceeded our goals, we had a great race and enjoyed the town of Greenville once again. Many thanks to Bethany Young, Amy Dugan and everyone who put together this race during a season of not so much snow.
We can't wait to return to Greenville next year and who knows, maybe we'll be able to run the 100 mile race.
Thanks to Peg for her photos.
Bob and Peg were so cute together. Often she and I would be chatting and I would notice Peg completely wrapped around Bobby or rather, Bobby completely wrapped around Peg as she chatted away with me whilst playing with his beautiful tail.
From the photo, you can tell that it was just absolute freezing and incredibly windy. Peg's smile says it all.... we were having a ball. Peg proved to be such a trustworthy helper and very quickly picked up the routine and confidence in handling the dogs. I dressed her up in my Cabela's suit as it really was just so cold. I had two suits with me, one for Peg and one for me so we could stay warm and able to function.
Peg does a great job in marching us to the start. As it was so very icy, my sled is actually tied to an ATV so as to hold us back and allow for a safe passage to the start shute. Just 15 minutes before the start, I took a nasty tumble as I was loading dogs to the gangline. I managed to put my hand under my head to save my head from hitting the ice but I tore a few muscles in my shoulder and bicep muscles as I was holding on to Daisy and didn't want to let go. Took me a few moments to come around. The EMT came over quickly and he felt I was okay to continue but wanted to check in with me after the race. It hurt a lot and there was no time to take any pain killers as I was team #1 and had just 15 minutes to get the team on the gangline and to shute.
GOOD JOB Peg! Peg was my official 'Husky Hugger' , a title intended to apply no pressure or expectation other than loving the dogs . Well within minutes of Peg being in the truck heading to Maine, we were talking routine and race preparation. From that moment, Peg jumped into action like a seasoned handler. We were so well connected, the routine and chores flowed flawlessly and her cooperation to lead the dogs to the start was a heart warming moment for me. I was so very proud of her and thankful for all her help and support. Oh and not to forget the fact that the dogs adored her. Peg had three favorites, okay... so there are no real favorites, but I know she had a soft spot for Yahboo, Tonka and Bobby.
Well as you can see from the energy in the photo, the dogs were not for stopping. What you can't see is that we did have an ATV attached to the back of my sled, but I guess it just made no difference to the dogs once they got to the start..... they just kept on pulling.
Waiting for the countdown..... the crowds were just great. I could hear the names of my leaders being called out, lots of cheering for the dogs. We were team #1 and also the first team to poop in the shute... yeah, thanks Tonka. Much to the amusement of the onlookers.
Friday, February 12, 2010
"Photo Courtesy Of Corina Alexander's Dad"
This race was one of those trail experiences that a musher lives for. Okay, it was also quite a gripping, white knuckle experience. So why was it such darn fun! I swear I closed my eyes as I flung around some of those 90 deg bends at a crazy speed for my big fuzzies and fluffies. Part of the trail was skimpy, but runnable, it was just so incredibly fast and unforgiving. Other parts of the trail was snow covered and brought back warm memories of seasons past when we had received enough snowfall to make all the trails in this area seem like we were living in a true winter wonderland. The dogs were fast and strong, adorned with their usual red bandanas...... our goal was to stay safe, be happy and bring home some great memories from this once again ..... technical and thrilling race! Despite a 'yard sale' type of fall on a sharp right hand bend, I managed to pick myself up, squeal for a second or two as I thought I had broken my hand, dust myself off, praise the dogs for not abandoning me and off we went to complete the course in a blistering time of 1hr 29 minutes taking 3rd place in the 8-dog class.
Our goal is always to have a good experience. I have always tried to set everything up for as much success as possible and by that, I don't mean a race result, I mean happy - healthy dogs that trust me from start to finish. This year has been humbling as my dogs have turned a corner in their ability to get quickly down the trail, pull like crazy and maintain a positive and willing attitude since our fist day of training last September. I have had to learn to handle a bit more speed alongside their power. I'm not so proud as to not admit that I've had a few more tumbles than normal this season, some tumbles are more related to the icy conditions we've experienced, but still, even when dropping team size to 5 or 6 dogs, the experience of speed and power has not seemed any less than a team of 8 or 9 dogs and so, they have made me very aware of adjusting our training to suit the energy of the team and the conditions. It is a great sport to be able to learn constantly, it's never the same, many new experiences as we grow together. Oh and before I forget, many thanks to Marsha Colcord, Corina Alexander and anyone else who has participated in putting together the past two races. A very selfless act to give up time in order for others to enjoy a race.
I could see the crowds and the finish line ahead of us and I was actually quite excited to be back at the finish in one piece! We were met at the finish line by Whatleigh and Emma and a bunch of other friends. I welcoming return from a very exciting, heart pumping, insanely enjoyable white knuckle ride.
Dogs were so excited to be out on the trail with other teams since we don't have the joy of running with the Barking Brook doggies this season. It had just snowed, the last great snow storm as we are in a ridiculous dry period right now..... anyway, conditions were perfect for a very long run of 35 miles. Just after this run, it poured with rain !! We had a great run with Kim and Kelly and their lovely Siberians. Gail and Jaye were also on the trail but did shorter distances so we only saw them at the beginning of our run.