Cole made it into Braeburn, the first checkpoint, at around 1:30 a.m. this morning. All dogs were happy and healthy, as determined by the veterinarians who were very thorough in their inspection. Which was good because a few mushers were not so lucky and had to drop dogs due to a hard fast trail for the first leg. So far, this has been the most “structured” race we have ever done in regard to protocols. Upon entering the checkpoint, rather than Joseph catching the leaders and parking the team, a swarm of race volunteers descend on the dogs and then transport them to a parking place. it is a little awkward for some of our guys that are shy of strangers, but so far nothing too eventful upon arrival. Cole’s departure was another matter entirely. After eating one of the world’s largest hamburgers (see photo) and catching about an hour and a half of sleep, Cole went outside in the minus 25 degree F temps to prepare her dogs to leave. This usually entails putting booties on, reattaching their tug lines and stowing away any last minute gear. Unfortunately, the dogs altered her plan this morning. Because Cole is running Kawlijah, a yearling, she is moving slower on the trail and taking longer breaks when off the trails, so as not to burn him out before his sled dog career really begins. However, for the 2, 3 and 4-year old dogs in the team, the rest is a little too much. As soon as Cole bootied her leaders this morning, the entire team jumped to their feet and went crazy. Half of them didn’t even have their tug-lines on yet, and the leader hook (which goes of the front of the team while their resting to hold them out straight) was still in place. Yet, somehow our energetic group of dogs pulled through both hooks and nearly took off down the trail Cole luckily dove to the sled and was able to bring the team to a halt, but not before a bit of a tangle was made(see photo), She sorted it out quickly, but the dogs were just too energized to trust the hook holding long enough to finish booting everyone, so she just grabbed the bag of footwear and headed off down the trail. She said she would run a few miles to take a little steam off them, then stop and finish booting them then. She also likely will have to alter her run rest schedule slightly. This is the tricky part of distance racing. Too little rest and the dog could burn out either mentally or physically, but too much rest and then can really be a bunch of uncontrollable monsters. Time will tell what Cole will do next, but she should reach the Carmacks checkpoint sometime this evening. Until then think positive thoughts for us.