We were as ready as we could be. Despite a long bout of bronchitis and missing some training, we got back on track and gave it our all. Here's Rosie and Cookqiz, ready to lead the team down main street and into the mountains. I love my dogs so very much. I gave thought for a short while to Biffa who had just passed away in February and of course, to my other furry family members. We wouldn't be where we are if it were not for each and every one of my dogs who have been a part of this crazy hobby.
Dogs were snacked and watered, loved and rubbed down and adorned with their usual red bandannas. They were pretty calm despite the chaos around us. It's just such a wonderful experience to be among some pretty awesome people, many we know and many just come to offer you their support.
Bag check was done, the vet check was excellent and so, we were ready to go. Peg had been a great help with the dogs and the gear and also dealing with the snow and parking area. I knew she would have a good time during my absence and it would be a fun experience for her too.
As we ventured to the start with many hands on the gangline, we were asked if we would carry one of the vets, Cindy, down Main Street with us. "Sure" I said. She wanted the experience and I guess figured my big guys would not object to the extra load. I love being counted down and having the officials stand on my bar break as I get chance to nip down the line and hug the dogs and connect with my leaders. Before you know it, you are off! The crowds seem like a blurr, the noise fills your head and your heart. For that moment, all eyes are on the dogs and they are the best team ever. After dropping down below the bridge we then get a chance to stretch out on the railbed but given the upcoming conditions, I certainly didn't want to burn them out so early in the race so we took a good pace until we reached the turn that takes you into the heart of the 60.
If conditions had been a little different I had hoped for a finish in under 8 hrs, I knew we were capable, but as is typical with Can-am, you never know what you are going to get until you get it and so, the best of plans need to be adaptable. We snacked a couple of times along the way, a quick hug, snacks for me and we just kept making our way through the mixed conditions we encountered. We passed 4 teams, passed by 2, passed a team again and so it would go on for a few miles. Sometimes teams can be just a short distance infront or behind but often, you just can't see them so you can feel quite alone for a very long time.
We went through heavy snowfall, low visibility and rain and back to snow again. A good mix of everything, plus high humidity. But I was in heaven.... I don't use an Ipod or anything, I enjoy the silence. The ability to put everything to one side and to let go of thoughts and just be in the moment with my dogs. It's priceless.
As the last few miles come upon us, I was behind two teams I had passed earlier. We crossed the potato fields and I caught up with the team infront of me and so we passed. I'd had some great conversations and chatter along the way with a couple of mushers and here we were, now just a few miles from the finish. Sandwiched between two teams, we flew into the last three miles of bottomless snowpits, twists and turns, steepish chutes and then the ski area trail which brings us to the finish line. The dogs had picked up the pace and were having a great run back.
It was lovely to see familiar faces and hear the cheering. 8hrs 40 mins. I had wanted to break into the top 20 in the 60 mile race and we came in 19th place, so I couldn't have been prouder.
The dogs finished strong, no injuries, no problems. They looked great at the finish.
The team was -
Cookqiz and Rosie
Yahboo and Tumac
Hana and Nellie
Lilly and Bobby