Archive for January, 2010


Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Rogues Gallery Kennel took 2nd and 3rd place in the T-100 — a race filled with numerous hills, just as many thrills, and even a few spills. The race started on a picturesque day (See photo above of Joseph leaving the starting chute. In wheel position are Squirrel and Ghost — the dog that came to the kennel this past summer from the Kenai Animal Shelter.) The sky was clear and blue, there was no wind and the temperature was hovering around zero. The first leg went smoothly despite some warm temperatures during the heat of the day where the dogs hit a bit of a lull. A section of the trail went above treeline in an area difficult to groom and where there has been little traffic this season. As a result the trail was pure sugar for about 7-miles with deep ruts from the T-200 teams that had carved through it. The downhills sections were particularly challenging as there was a channel carved out from people using their brakes. If one runner got in, it was very difficult to keep the sled up right, but Cole just looked at it as good training for the Iditarod where numerous teams riding their brakes downhill make similar conditions.
At the lake the dogs ate like wolves and rested well, even the puppies. Cole had led out with Penny and Oaky, while JOseph used Brick and 18-month old Metoo (our house dog who trains like she is a sled dog). After getting the teams fed, bedded and rubbed down, everyone migrated to a large campfire. All the mushers in the field were there and we all swapped stories and told jokes for nearly the enitre break. It was truly one of the funnest checkpoints we’ve ever stayed at.
On the return leg Cole was leaving in second place, 12 minutes behind Paul Gebhardt – a two-time Iditarod runner-up who was running his A-team in this race. JOseph was going out fourth, 8 minutes behind Cole. The took took off with Joseph working like a man half his age. He had bet Cole a month of poop scooping in the dog yard that he could beat her to the finish. Within 10 miles of leaving the lake he caught and passed her, but for the next 30 miles he couldn’t shake her.
The two were pushing the pace in the cool -5 degree night air, and even got to withing 6 minutes of Paul at one point, but in the final 10 miles they switched places roughly a dozen times which stretched their gap from the race leader. As the end of the race drew near, Cole was in the lead with Joseph hot on her heels, but about 5 miles from the finish Joseph ended up picking up Hildy. It only took seconds to get her in the bag, but Cole pulled ahead. He raced to catch up, but at the finish line he came in 1 minute too late to beat her.
Still, the race was a BLAST. It afford the opportunity to give 20 dogs some really good training that will help with the assesments of which 16 should go to the Iditarod. Also, the teams were split evenly with each person taking 5-experienced racers, a couple of 18 months old pups, and some new dogs from the pound. So, in the end, since we didn’t have our best team put together, and three of our best dogs (Zoya, Hank and Kalijah) were still at home so pups could be looked at, it was a real sense of accomlishment to finish only 12 minutes behind a professional racer training to win the Iditarod. It was also nice to both finish in the money.
With the T-100 out of the way, training begins for the next race: the Denali Doubles – a 300 mile race from Cantwell to Paxson and back, where the team sizes are 20 dogs and both Cole and Joseph will race together with two sleds in tandom. This race was only for people who had won races or recieved the Humanitarian award in a race – both of which COle has done. So it will be exiciting to be part of such a professional race field. The event will also offer another fantastic opportunity to better evaluate which dogs should go to Nome.

Calm Between Storms

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Well, the Cooper Basin 300 was a total success. We did exactly what we set out to do which was stick to a schedule that would mirror Iditarod training. While many teams took 3 or less hours at checkpoints to stay competitive, we never lost sight of our goal and stayed at each checkpoint at least 4 hours. This made for s schedule that still didn’t amount to equal run-rest like we’ll be shooting for in Iditarod, but it was conservative while still allowing for the dogs to be pushed in a way that we wouldn’t be able to simulate with training alone.
For our next race, we’ve both signed up for the Tustumena 100, the shorter version of the T-200. The T-100 is a race Cole has won before, but we won’t be looking for another victory this year. Like we did in the Copper Basin, we will be running a conservative T-100 to evaluate a few dogs for the Iditarod team, such as Ghost, the dog we got from the Kenai Animal Shelter in summer. We will also be running a few puppies in there first race ever, which will include Metoo and her brothers. With so many uncertain dogs, the purpose won’t be to go as fast as we can, rather it will be run conservatively, ensuring each dog succeeds. The race will be this Saturday, and it can be followed on the Internet at and we will try to blog about the race as soon as its over.
Since so much of our training has been in the Caribou Hills, where the race course goes, we have switched our training to the Mystery Hills area of Sterling since we got back from the CB300. The problem with the Caribou Hills is the dogs get used to stopping in certain places during training, and this can be a problem when racing on the same trails. That, and the dogs just get bored of seeing the same terrain too. The switch to the Mystery Hills has been great. It’s just as hilly as in the Caribou HIlls, bu there are no snowmachine and fewer dog teams to worry about. It’s just been us and a few moose. Speaking of moose on two separate runs in two days we found large antlers that had fallen off of moose as they begin to shed their racks. These are always a treat to find, but especially when they are as large and perfect as the pair that we found.
Our little pup, we named Dunkel, sitting between the pair. Below Joseph has some fun with a few dogs – notice their expression. It’s like “Moooooom, dad’s doing it again.”
Moose are the only species of wildlife in the Mystery Hills area as we found out firsthand the other night. The team was cruising along at a brisk pace when all of a sudden the entire front half of the team just stopped in a huge ball and we heard the most horrific high-pitched scream. Our first thought was “Oh no, the dogs have hit a trapper’s set,” so we ran to the front of the team expecting the worst. Instead when we got there, we saw blood splattered everywhere, a couple of dog woofing something down, but when we saw Squirrel and Butterscotch in a tug of war we deduced what had happened. They each had an end of (what was left) of a snowshoe hair. Apparently one of the dogs had nabbed it on the run, and everyone just pig piled the poor creature taking a bite. By the time we got it away from the dogs, we had one heck of a tangle and there was very little left of the bunny, but at least the dogs didn’t start fighting over it.
As we get closer to the race start for the T-100, we are scrolling back the hard runs on the racers, and this has given us time to catch up on harness breaking the puppies that we acquired this summer: Boo and Klaus. With some litters the dogs tangle up or try to turn around a lot, but not these two. They both seem to really be naturals to running, and they love every minute of it, so the training hasn’t been too tough. Check out the picture below of Klaus already banging his harness trying to get the team moving again.
We also tried to run Coolwhip with the puppies to see if she could handle it. Coolwhip was another dog we got from the Kenai Shelter back in summer. She suffered for laryngeal paralysis and a condition known as mega-esophagus. As she has grown, the mega-esophagus condition has cleared up quite well. She doesn’t need to eat in the vertical position anymore and she rarely vomits up her meals. As far as her other condition, called wheezer for short, she has only a slight case compared to Shagoo and some other dogs we have known. She runs around the yard playing for hours, so we thought she could handle a puppy run, but about a half mile into she was really struggling to breath, so we picked her up for the rest of the ride (That is the photo at the top of this blog – us three in the sled.) So, we learned she may never be a sled dog, but she has more than enough fun as a house dog anyway.

CB300 Finish

Monday, January 11th, 2010

She made it!!! And in record time. Cole covered the final 24 miles in 2 hours and 46 mintues for an average speed of 8.7 mph. It was the fastest time to the final checkpoint for the second year in a row, and in that time she reeled in several teams teams to finish 15th overall. Little pint-sized penny led the whole way, priving what she lacks in size she more than makes up for in drive. Well, we’re pooped from the long weekend, but here are some final photos from the end of the race.
A frosty-faced Kristy and Cole after the race. Kristy is a friend and fellow musher from Kasilof who Cole went neck and neck with in the final leg.


Monday, January 11th, 2010

Cole just blew through the final checkpoint at 4:31 p.m. and the team looked FANTASTIC. As is her habitual race strtegy, she is attempting to real in any team with an hour in front of her and she caught several teams right at the checkpoint! And there are two more teams just a few minutes ahead of her. Also, she still has all 11 of her dogs in harness. It’s on!!! This is what I was saying in the last post, everyone races to the end and sometimes the middle of the pack races-within-the race are the most exciting. There 24 miles left so any one of these 4-6 teams could pul ahead. Time will soon tell if its Cole and her dogs. Stayed tuned and keep checking the race web site from here on out too. I’m not sure who will have her into the finish first, me or them.


Monday, January 11th, 2010

Or, the title of this post could be “I hate wind,” you choose. Cole did make it through the windstorm, led by Cyder and Hildy. The storm actually changed a bit, so the wind up high wasn’t as bad as predicted, but the wind down low was way worse. The last 10 miles into Chisto Cole faced solid 10-15 mph winds with steady gusts to 30-35 mph. Needless to say, the trail was blown closed in many places, and Cole (like all the mushers more than 5-10 minutes ahead or behind her) had to break trail. Still the dogs cam in looking good, and in good time. Their speed was still up for this late stage of the race, particulary after dealing with the gusts. They ate great again, but when it came time to bed them down, more problems arose.
Chisto was basically a wind tunnel, with constant gusts and snow ripping through the entire night and morning (see photo above of a weary Goliath caked in blown snow). SOme teams took shelter in the woods, but by the time COle got there, most of the choice locations were claimed. She ended up in a partly exposed area. This complicated EVERYTHING. Not only did it mean the dogs wouldn’t get a restful reprieve from the wind after just running in it for the last hour, but also it meant that everything had to be basically tied down. If cole put down more than one dish at a time, as the dogs ate from it and it got lighter, the wind would pick it up and throw it yards away. Even the wet meal was difficult to laddle out in the tempest.
Adding to the dilema, the straw provided must have been left out in a storm beucase the bails weren’t just moldy, they were also frozen solid (see picture below). Luckily a friend involved with the race warned us their might be straw shortages so we brought one up with us from home.
Also, I want to make a side note here, as I describe the race, I often focus on the things that go wrong or crazy, but 80 percent of the race is organized, so I don’t want anyone to think this whole thing is one big mess. The race could use a little more work in a few places, but overall, for a volunteer driven event, the organizars do a pretty good job. That disclaimer being said, I wanted to knock out one of the two checkers at Chisto. For some reason, it seems all dog races can’t help but find volunteers who’ve had drinking probelms. As I attempted to get Cole’s offical time when she came in, the one checker was a littlle more tipsy than he should have been for 5 a.m. He was having issues with understanding the time clock and proceeded to say how a minute or two was no big deal. I felt like shouting at him “NO big deal. My wife has won a race by 15 seconds!!!” so a couple of minutes is a big f’ing deal. People loose sight that it’s not just the top one or two mushers who are all racing. 10th, 15th, 20th, sometimes even further back than that, are mushers who are all racing to do their best, and their time counts as much as the front runners. Anyhoo, in an attempt to get around the first checker, I went to the second to ask about the time. SHe kept saying yes, but I wasn’t asking yes or no questions. After a few minutes of this someone finally told me she was deaf. At 5 a.m., after three days without sleep, I honestly have to say I was COMPLETELY stymied by the logic of race organizers to put a drunk and a deaf gal together as the offical checkers, but hey, this is a remote area of Alaska, so I guess any warm body you can get, you hand a clipboard and a stopwatch to. IN the end it all worked out (the deaf gal was actually quite on top of her game once she read my lips). Still I missed the hospitality of Paxson where (not sure if I mentioned this in the last post) the lodge owner let Cole stay in a room for free. It had only been slept in once without beng cleaned, but before she went up he said “I Fabreezed it for her, so it should be O.K.” I’m a big believer that beggars can’t be choosers, so I thanked the man and it was sincere.
O.K. back to the race, COle decided since she was out of the money, she would rest the dogs a good long time at Chisto. She offically only needed to stay for about an hour and a half, but she was going to give the dogs six hours of sleep and then get back on the trail. HOwever, the wind and snow were savage and relentless. The dogs just didn’t look like they were comforatable or getting quality rest, so after 5 hours she pulled the hooks and hit the trail again, led this time by Cyder and Crumb. She decided to leave HIldy behind, making it the first dog she had dropped in the race. THis was HIldy’s biggest race to date and she was doing nothing short of great, but COle said driving through the wind really took it out of her. She was looking really tired on the final few miles into CHisto. Wanting the whole experience to end positively for HIldy, Cole decided to leave her behind, rather than take a chance on pushing her for the final 74 miles to the finish and having the dog not last or like the final leg. The ever destructive Metoo and Shagoo were happy to gain a new companion in the cab.
On a final note, the last leg of the trail runs along a highway for several miles (see photo below of Cole leaving CHisto. This is actually no where near as close to the road as the trail gets in a few dangerous places). In a few section the trail is so close to the road the dogs can sometimes jump onto the highway, and once there, the surface of the asphalt is so icy and smooth, the musher can’t use a brake and literally becomes totally helpless and at the mercy of the team. This happend to two mushers, one a good friend of ours, a French Canadian from Quebec that we met while running the Quest last year. HIs dogs were flying down the highway for miles, right alongside another musher who had the same thing happen. They were lucky no semi’s cam barreling along, but in an attempt to gain control, the others mushers seld hit our friend’s dogs at high speed and injured two of them too badly to continue. As I drove from Chisto to Glennallen, I came across our friend now stnading in the road, signally for help to take his injured dogs by truck to see a vet. We loaded them up and got going quickly, but my friend was very upset over concern for his dogs. Like us he has a small kennel of only 20 dogs and he is very close to them. The whole drive to town he had tears in his eyes and just kept saying “It was supposed to end like this.” DOn’t be confused though, he wasn’t upset he wouldn’t see the finish line, he was upset his dogs wouldn’t beucase after running them for more than 250 miles, he believe they deserved the final credit for all their hardwork. What was truly sad for me is that his team looked great, so much so that hile he had loaded the two injured dogs into the sled while waiting for help, when I arrivved and offered assistance, his lead dogs were still hammering the harness trying to get the sled moving down the trail again. They had plenty of race still left in them.
O.K. this is getting too long, so I’ll end it here. Cole should be in sometimes in the early evening. I’ll meet her at the Glennallen checkpoint (20 miles from the finish) just to be sure she doesn’t need to drop any dogs, then it is on to the end. If I get a chance I’ll make one more post before its all over, otherwise the nest post may be from Cole about how it all went from her perspective. Thanks to everyone who has been following along. We couldn’t do this without your support.

One Last Paxson Update

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Not sure if I’ll have WiFi at Chisto so I wanted to give one last update because the next might, I stress might, be at the end of the race. At Paxson the dogs came in looking gassed and really weren’t interested in eating they were so tired. Cole bedded them down, put on their blankets, and then just let them sleep for a bit. She grabbed some grub in the lodge then went back out and it was like she had a new team. The dogs stood up just seeing her coming, so we knew right away they were hoping for a meal. They ate like wolves. She then let them sleep a few more hours and herself went in for some rest. HOwever, her fears of the winds to come wouldn’t let her relax. She only ended up getting an hour of sleep.
Back outside she gave the dogs more grub and liquids, and rubbed down everyone’s sore muscles and feet. The dogs continued to take everything they were offered, and before she left the dogs were so well hydrated their pee looked like it was coming right out of a bottle of purified water. Getting the food on the dogs will help with what is to come, but Cole is still concerned about her leaders. With losing our lead dog Karma last year to a brain tumor, and another main leader, Oaky, being home with a pup, Cole is asking a lot of the handful of dogs she is using at the front end. Penny could likely lead all 300 miles of this race, but she is so tiny, she isn’t much help in the strong wind despite her strong heart to be out in front. INstead COle lead out at 10:02 p.m. with HIldy and Cyder, two of her biggest dogs. Also, it is worth noting (I’ve been so busy and tired I’ve hardly focused on each individual dog) that COle took our two two-year-olds Kawlijah (in photo above) and Seeker in the race and she has repeatedly said Kawlijah is one of the strongest dogs in her team. He is still learning how to lead, but even if he doesn’t pick it up, he is a real asset due to his size, strength and drive. The funniest thing about it is, since these two are so young, they staqy up watching everything at the checkpoints rather than sleeping like the adults know to, so if these guys are this strong with no sleep, we can’t wait to see how much energy they have to burn once they learn to really rest.
IN other handling news, I have largely been able to park where Shagoo and Metoo couldn’t see Cole, but at Paxson there was no other option. Metoo spotted Cole and went wild once again. In her spite she annilated three bottled drinks I had on the vent to keep from freezing, so now the entire front seat in soaked. She or Shagoo also finshed a bag of Ginger Snaps I brought formyself, and the little monster chewed up my indoor/outdoor thermometer. This last one is really annoying because it was a very special gift to me from Cole, and a very valuable piece of equipment in this kind of weather. I think I’ve learned from this trip that next time I’l bring Shagoo and Buckwheat, and leave Metoo at home. All for now.

Sourdough to Paxson

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

The race rolls on and so much has happened since the last post. Cole got out of Wolverine without much trouble. A few mushers had trouble on Lake Louise as there are several marked trails for various races throughout the year. She made it into Sourdough with Goliath and Penny in lead, and the parking was as big a clusterfart as we expected. This year team went up a windy hill to the checkpoint to sign-in, they were then supposed to drop down the hill (about 1/4 mile long) through a path that had been plowed down to the dirt so there was no hope of getting a brake to bite. Then the mushers dropped onto a trail, still going downhill, with about a foot of sugary, podery freesh snow. Then they wound around a matel post in the trail, and at the bootm of the hill were supposed to take a 90-degree turn to then park IN FRONT of the team that came in before them. Despite how rishy this trail could be for injurying a dog’s shoulder, to park Cole where they wanted would have meant putting her about 1/2 mile away from her starw and water source. NOT AN OPTION. Instead I found a side path than gradually switched back and forth down the hill and came out BEHIND the park teams, where Cole and the dogs could rest without dozens of teams coming and going all around them. It worked out great.
The only problem with Sourdough is it was its usual cold, horrible self. The temperature got down to minus 33 below while Cole and the dogs camped, which is far from a good temperature for the dogs to rest in. Cole had sent out supplies to take her mandatory 8 hours rest (the race reuires 18 hours total) at various places, and before the race had toyed with the idea of staying at Sourdough, but the cold nixed that idea. After 4 1/2 hours rest she pulled the hooks and shot out with Zoom and Cyder in lead.
Cole made good time to Meiers Lake and blew through on the way to Paxson (the photo above is fer in a remote section between Meiers and Paxson), still trying to get ahead of the predicted wind (and windchill of minus 50). The team slowed their pace on the way a bit to Paxson, but they arrived tired, but having faced minimal wind. Teams just an hour behind her came in talling horror stories of the 30 mph winds they hit head on while crossing the 7-miles long Paxson Lake. This doesn’t mean she is out of danger though. From Paxson the race trail climbs into the moutains and for several miles will traverse above treeline where Cole and the other racers will be TOTALLY exposed to very likely 30 mph winds and minus 20 degree temperatures. It will be a long and challenging night run for her and the dogs. Hopefull they’ll make it in good fashion after coming off such a long break. Before Paxson Cole had slepts a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes so far in the race, but she will liekly get fours hours sleep at least, while the dogs will get close to 9 hours when her srating order time differential is added to her 8 hours mandatory rest.
ON a related note to the last post, as is often the case in a sport where stress levels are high and sleep in low, the musher who Cole had the bad pass with yesterday came over today after he had gotten some sleep and apologized for his trail grumblings. It went a long way for Cole, as she often views other mushers not as cometing against her, but as all of them together competing against the challengin terrain and elements. Everyone can lose there temper from time to time, but it was a classy thing to do for this musher to come and make amends.
O.K. all for now. Here a few pictures from the last 24 hours.
Cole arrives at Meiers Lake with Penny and Zoya back in lead.
Cole and the team crossing Meiers Lake after leaving the Meiers checkpoint, and heading toward some much needed rest in Paxson.
The team sleeping under their blankets at Paxson. We rarely don’t give our dogs equal rest to whatever they ran, so this years race is really pushing them a bit more than usual. HOpefully they will gain and get stronger from the experience in preparation for Iditarod.


Saturday, January 9th, 2010

This will be a quick post since I have just finished cleaning straw in the minus 20 degree temperatures at Wolverine (see photo above of the team parked in the dog lot) and now must drive the 60 pr so miles to SOurdough to meet Cole there. Cole and the team came into Wolverine at just after 4 p.m. and everyone looked great. Her speed over this last 25 miles slowed slightly to around 8 miles per hours, but the team still seemed fresh after their cumulative 50 miles. COle was in so-so spirits. She said the trail was a mix of really nice, smooth sections, periodically punctuated with softer sections where the dogs would slow down and post-hole into the punchy snow.
More than the trail conditions it was another musher who had Cole feeling blue. As she tells it, another musher came up from behind and attempted to pass without calling trail, when she noticed his leaders starting to pull along her sled, she quickly stopped to let them get by cleanly, but apparently this mushers lead dog jumped under Cole’s gangline for a brief tangle. The musher got angry and groused at Cole. She was upset because she was not only trting to be polite to let the musher get by, but also it wasn’t her fault his leaders didn’t pass. More than that though, I think Cole was bummed out beucase we do this for fun, and it sucks to have someone be rude over something so trivial. Everyone on the trail is doing the best they can, but shit happens, you have to learn do deal with it.
She attempted to shake off the sour mood before it affected the dogs, so she shifted her focus to fixing her brake that came off in the first run. She remeber she had packed a few extra bolts in the bottom of one emergency bag, and she borrowed a wrench from anotherm musher and got the probelm fixed. Parking at Wolverine got a little hectic, which since it was on a huge lake, that doesn’t bode well for the next checkpoint where parking is ALWAYS bad. Everytime we’ve parked at SOurdough we’ve ended up on a 45 degree incline in the trees. It is sucky rest for the dogs and a pain for a weary musher. Time will tell what this year will hold there, but hopefully her and the team can get some solid time off their feet beucase they’re going to need it. The weather forecast for Paxson got even worse. NOw they are calling for around minus 45-50 with the combine temperatures and wind. So as usual, the Copper Basin 300 has gone and gotten all Copper Basiny on us. More to come tomorrow…
Cole making her sled repairs.

CB300 start to Tolsana

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Greetings race fans. This year’s Copper Basin 300 got off to a great start. The temperatures are unseasonably warm for these parts, as it was around minus 14 when we got up at 6 am to feed this morning, and by the race start at 10 a.m. the temps were up into the single digits. Cole and the team got off great. She left the starting chute with Zoya and Penny in lead. I have Metoo and Shagoo in the truck with me for company, and Metoo went completely wild when she saw the team getting hooked up. After they left she bagn pouting for several hours and destroyed a bag of Doritos I was saving for lunch/dinner. THis is the second time on this trip my rations have been sabatoged. Last night someone in the cab of the trcuk at a packaga of Rolo’s candy. Penny, Zoya, Shaoo and Metoo were all in there, so it’s anybody’s guess who got them.
Anyhoo, back to the race. I drove up the road aways and saw mushers where they move along the side of the road for a few miles. The snow was really soft and a few inches deep. The trail conditions looked to be getting worse and wrose with each passing team. As Cole went by she shouted that everyone was doing well, but she did have one of the bolts to her brake snap off while on a driveway crossing. This puts her down to one brake already, so she said she will likely get with the judges to ask if she can get a time penalty to get a spare bolt off the sled on the truck. She’ll do it when she gets to her first planned stop at Wolverine. If they say no, she can always make it through with one brake, but some of the downhills when she hits the mountains will be a bit fast.
Further up the trail, I met Cole as she came through the first checkpoint at Tolsana (23 miles into the race). The team looked great, and one of the veterinary staff even made it a point to tell me how great the team looked. It was a real honor to hear since we take so much pride in how we care for our dogs. The turnaround at Tolsano was a little wierd, a bit of a buttonhook, where on coming teams get really close to outgoing teams. I was sbapping pictures instead of paying closer attention and Cole leaders jumped off the trail breifly, but she was able to get them back on quickly and keep on trucking. Her speed to Tolsano was fantastic considering the trail conditions. She made it in just aover two hours, so her moving time was around 10.5 mph. HOpefully she can keep some steam on them on the way to Wolvering and then give them a good rest.
Cole wasn’t sure how long she would stay at Wolvering. Her initial plan was to stay for around 4 hours, but the weather reports from the north end of the trail, up at Paxson, are calling for the temperature to drop to around minus 20 degrees with strong winds of 30-35 mph moving in. This will make for some serious windchill, but will also complicate the crossing of large lakes and high hills in this area. Cole wants to stay ahead of weather, rather than getting caught in some of the open areas, so she may cut her rest shorts at Wolverine and Sourdough. TIme will tell, but I should no more by my next update. Stay tuned.
Cole and the team not long after leaving the starting chute. As you can see, there’s no shortage of snow in this regions this year. Th dogs were working hard to keep plowing through it.
A bundled up Cole comes acorss the lake into Tolsana checkpoint. The temperature was hoving in the single digits, but is dropping as she nears Wolverine Lodge. Always one of the coldest places in the race, the temperature at Wolverine now (where I’m writing from) is minus 12, but it will definetly get colder as the sun goes down.

Copper Basin 300 Prerace

Friday, January 8th, 2010

We hit the open, frozen road this morning as it’s finally time for our first race of the year, and apparently several other mushers had the same idea, as this year’s Copper Basin 300 is one of the largest fields in a number of years, if not ever. As of right now there are 45 teams signed up, including at least 15-20 that are high caliber. It’s a good thing we didn’t come to this race hoping for a paycheck.
This will be Cole’s third time competing, she was 16th in 2008 and 14th in 2009, but this year it would be nearly impossible to improve on her standing any more than she has already done. Fortunately we didn’t come to win, we came to get the dogs into the racing rhythm for Iditarod. The Copper Basin is one of the toghest and most challenging mid-distance races in the state, so it will hopefully be a good way to wade back into the current of racing dogs.
This race requires mushers to only take 18 hours of rest, but we will definitely be exceeding this amount. The goal of this race is just to give the dogs several similar runs to what they will see in Iditarod, which would be 6 hours on/6 off. We can’t quite give the dgos equally run rest in this race, but we will try to find a balance that is more than the alloted rest time, but a little less than they will get on Iditarod.
We’ll try to keep everyone up to date as much as possible thoughout the race (largely dependent on wherever there is WiFi). Check back tomorrow for photos from the race start, or visit the Cooper Basin 300 Web site for more information and standings. In the meantime, here are some pictures from today.
We all got up at 4 a.m. this morning to finish packing and make the long drive north. It was about a seven hour trip. Metoo says “Whatever you got me up for, it better be good,” while Zoya sleeps against the window in the background.
Cole dropping off her food and resupply bags to be sent out to all the checkpoints. Hopefully they all arrive.
Here’s our home-away-from-home for the night, the Caribou Hotel, one of the most musher-friendly establishments we’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at. That’s our dog truck out front.