Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 3 Limited North American

The morning started with a beautiful sunrise as we headed off to our drop spot. The sky was incredible. As we dropped and watered the dogs I watched closely for any hint of soreness or injuries. The dogs are all incredibly happy and full of energy. The yearlings especially are running around like crazy maniacs. More than once I found myself in a situation begging them to not be so rowdy for fear one would crash into the other as they raced around the parking lot chasing each other. Everyone gobbled up their breakfast and looked fine for another day of racing.
Day 3 was a great day for us. In the 6 dog class we posted the second fastest day time, unfortunately we missed 2nd place overall by just 7 seconds. We're happy with 3rd though. I put my "big boys" (Dar & Dewalt) up in lead today. Day 1 & 2 leaders would have done just fine too, but I figured since the big boys had been leading in the longer mileage races they may be better suited for the final day of this race. They obviously did a superb job of bringing it home today.
It was quite a bit colder today and the wind was really ripping at times. The big question for the 8 dog race was what to do with the goofy yearling that played around biting at her brother the first 2 days of racing. My choices were, drop her, drop him or leave it the same. I decided to go with dropping him. Not because he was unable to run, I thought there might be a slight chance he'd get more tired than her because he works so unbelievably hard the whole time he's running. With the longer mileage we had to run I figured it would have been bad to have her nipping at him even longer. Turns out I made the right choice. Everyone in the team ran perfect! I noticed a bit less power without the big guy "Dukker" especially on the final uphill climb coming home. The wind was blowing so hard at one point coming across the field just before the finish, a gust caught my sled, blew it almost over and as I scrambled to keep it upright I was blow literally off the trail into the deep snow. I had looked at my GPS at the lower part of the field and knew if we could keep the pace up we'd have one of the fastest times ever for this class/mileage. We crossed the finish line and had done it. The second best time ever for the 8 dog class running 12 miles! Now all I had to do was sit tight and watch as my competitors crossed the finish line to see if we'd managed to hang on to the top spot. I have to admit it was a bit nerve wracking. I was pretty sure if we could stay in front of team #2 we'd have the win. Second place was in and we'd beat them. Now all I had to wait and see if we could win the day time too. Yep, we did that too. In fact our team was the only team under the 37 minute time. I grab "Makita", scooped her up in my arms and gave her the biggest hug. She's one super dog. Her sister "Ryobi" is just as good but she's bigger so she'd have been harder to scoop up. Then just as Nathan & I are jumping for joy (literally) Our good friends, Terry & Buddy Streeper and Lina Gladh show up with the Champagne. Buddy snapped a few shots of Nathan & I with the leaders, hopefully they'll turn out and we'll post them when we get home. It was nice to know others recognise how hard we've worked for this. I called home to mom next and she's just as excited as us.
We enjoyed a nice dinner with friends and we'll pack up and head home in the morning. Everyone trying to talk us into flying back up next Sunday night for the banquet, we'll have to see if we can find someone to feed for us.
Looking forward to the Tok Race of Champions in 2 weeks. Can't wait to see how fast the dogs can go where there isn't a big hill at the finish. The plan is we'll both race the 8 dog and I'll race the 6 dog. Here's the final times for the top 3.
6 dog
Jennifer Probert 22:56 total 57:27.7
Trisha Seibold 23:31 58:09.6
Jen Sterling 23:13 58:16.6

8 dog
Jen Sterling 36:45 total 1:39:24.8
Christian Taveau 37:08 1:41:21.6
Trisha Seibold 38:05 1:42:33.9

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 2 Limited North American

It was a little colder today. Temps were about -1 for the 6 dog race and warmed up to a whopping 3 degrees for the 8 dog. All the dogs looked great this morning so everyone will go again today.
We'll make some minor adjustments to the gangline for the 8 dog to see if we can keep the yearling that goofed off yesterday from biting so much at her running mate. I contemplated just dropping her but she ran great. With it being a 3 day race sure will be nice to have them all to chose from the last day. I ran both the 6 & 8 dogs teams with all dogs in the same positions as the 1st day.
The 6 dog actually went a little better with slightly cooler temps. We ended up with the 4th place day time but have managed to hold on to 3rd overall so far. I'll post the top 5 again at the end of the post.
The 8 dog went super. The dogs were absolutely flying. I don't think we've even come close to how fast our super leader "Makita" can go. She just eats up the speed, the faster the better for her. Had about the same amount of trouble with my goofy yearling again even with the minor adjustments to the gangline. I'll drop either her or her brother tomorrow, and just run a single position in front of wheel. All the others ran great and looked good at feeding time tonight. It will be interesting to see how they do with the longer mileage tomorrow. We'll be going 12.1 compared to the 10.6 we ran the first 2 days.
A big pat on the back to the trail crew up here. The trails are the best we've run on all year. It's so much fun to go so fast. The dogs are really enjoying it too.
I think it's supposed to be colder yet tomorrow. Sure am glad it's not hot like it was for this race last year. We'll update again tomorrow with how the final day goes.
Here's the top 5 for both classes:
6 dog
Jennifer Probert 17:08.4 2 day total 34:31.0
Trisha Seibold 17:21.6 34:37.8
Jen Sterling 17:24.0 35:03.9
Kris Rasey 17:21.1 35:33.9
Amy Gjestson 17:48.4 35:55.2

8 dog
Jen Sterling 31:14.3 2 day total 1:02.39.1
Christian Taveau 32:18.2 1:04.13.3
Trisha Seibold 32:20.4 1:04.28.6
Egil Ellis 32:16.1 1:05.24.2
Amanda Byrd 32:36.4 1:05.50.7

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 1 Limited North American

I had real good draws in both classes today for my start positions. The six dog team took off like a rocket. We're in 3rd place after day 1 so we're really happy with that. I ran Kodo & Lark in lead today. In team were Finch & Dewalt and Dar & Loon were in wheel. Tomorrow it may be quite a bit colder or so the forecast says. It seemed hotter than what they showed for temperatures today. It was a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. We'll plan to have the same leaders for tomorrow, then Dar & Dewalt will take over for the longer run on the final day.
The 8 dog apparently went much better than it seemed to be going while I was out on the trail. They dogs were moving along really nice but one of my yearlings was being quite a stinker. She was biting at her brother most of the trail. I was a bit nervous taking her but we're trying to be sure all the yearling get good race exposure this year. I saw the team ahead of us before the 10 mile turn, but we couldn't quite catch them for awhile. One of the leaders was holding back a bit, which is quite unusual for her. The team had a really bad experience last weekend in the Tanacross race. The team they had to pass had a dog in it that bit out at them as they tried to go by. We did end up getting by the team ahead of us. We had a great musher to pass, she did a real good job letting us by, which was great for the dogs to have a good passing experience. Coming up the hill on the way home is brutal though. It seems like the dogs slow down so much. I couldn't decide whether it was better to pedal or duck down to stay out of the wind, so I did some of both. We crossed the line and my super handler (Nathan) said we did great. Come to find out we're in the lead. We wanted to finish in the top 5 for this race, so looks like we're in a good position to do that. There is still 2 days of racing to go so we'll have to wait and see how our yearlings hold up. We'll probably have to stretch out the line and run a 10 dog string to separate the silly yearling that was biting at her running mate. Here's the top 5 times for the 6 & 8 dog.
6 dog
Trisha Seibold 17:16
Jennifer Probert 17:22
Jen Sterling 17:39
Amy Gjetson 18:06
Greg Selletin 18:10

8 dog
Jen Sterling 31:24
Christian Taveau 31:55
Trisha Seibold 32:08
Egil Ellis 33:08
Amanda Byrd 33:14

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wow, I can't believe how fast a month goes by. That's how long it's been since my last post.Between racing and working and training I don't think we are even getting much sleep much less having the time to get on the computer.

Since then we have raced in the Raven Electric 10 dog, Chistochina Fun Days 6-dog race and Tanacross.

Nathan & I both ran the Raven Electric. Nathan finished in 6th and I manage to grab 10th. The dogs are still struggling a bit to recover from the long trip across country I think.

The race at Chistochina had to be shortened to just 3 1/2 miles due to bad overflow on the trail. We joked about how funny it seemed to be racing such a short race for a huge purse. They had a ton of snow too. There were 16 teams competing. They had to send the mushers out in groups of 5 teams at one minute intervals since the trail was too narrow for head on passing. I didn't think it was really that big of a deal until I got out on the trail and saw how narrow it was. I also got to see first hand just how deep the snow was if you got off the trail. One of my leaders was a bit far to the left going around a corner and next thing I knew my dog team had totally disappeared. They ended up going in the exact spot a snow machine had gotten stuck earlier. It was a very deep hole. Nathan finished in 4th and I finished 5th. The top 6 teams were all within just seconds of each other. We made good money though. There was a $5,000 purse on the race. We love going to Chistochina, the people there are alot of fun and we always have a great time.

Next race-Tanacross. We had big hopes for this weekend. The dogs were starting to look like a whole team again. I raced the 6 dog and won. I went with "Dar" and "Dewalt" in lead. "Finch" & "Lark" in swing and "Loon" & "Kodo" in wheel. Loon, Finch and Lark are litter mates, so are Dar & Kodo, and then Dewalt has the same parents as Dar & Kodo only he's a year younger.
Nathan ran "Dewalt's" sister's "Makita" & "Ryobi" in lead both days of the 10 dog. Seven of the ten dogs he raced were yearlings. He was in 2nd place only 10 seconds out of 1st place after day one. He had a real bad time trying to get past another team day 1. The other team had a dog of theirs bite out at his leaders as he tried to pass, then actually get ahold of one of Nathan's team dogs. It tore a strip of hide off poor "Shey". Day 2 he had to go with 9 dogs. One of the yearlings "Kai" was limping so he had to sit out. As we waited at the starting line on Day 2 for his take-off I hear someone yell loose dog. Just about then they say "Go" and Nathan's team heads down the trail. The loose dog plows into the middle of his team the proceeds to chase him down the trail biting at his leaders back legs. Oh great I thought. I figured he wouldn't have a very good run after a start like that, especially given the experience the dogs had the day before while trying to pass and being bit at. He ended up falling to 4th place overall. We were really bummed. He was only 12 seconds out of 2nd place overall and less than a minute off 1st place overall. We both really felt like the dogs team was on it and could have easily pulled off the win. Oh well, that's dog racing. It would be nice however if someday we could have just a bit better luck. Or I guess I should say Nathan have better luck. I can't complain at all about my race, it went great.
We'll have a short training run on Tuesday to decide whether or not to head to Fairbanks for the Limited North American Championships. We'll have to rely on some of the other yearlings to fill the spot for Kai and maybe Shey. Looks like Kai may have broken a toe on his back foot, so he'll be out the rest of the year. I'm hoping I'll have my 2 super leaders "Dar" & "Dewalt" back in time for this weekend. If we go I'll race both the 6 & 8 dog classes. Nathan now for some reason thinks he's too big of a guy for racing the 8 dog.