Archive for January, 2012

T200 Fin

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Hi all, sorry to leave everyone hanging. The race this year was on a new route that made it funner for mjushers and better for dogs, but much harder on handlers. I did a lot of driving and very little sleeping, trying to keep up with Cole. Then after the race we alljust crashed, humans and dogs alike.
Still have a lot to do, so this is just a breif update to say Cole and the team finsihed in fine fashion. All 14 dogs came in looking strong. Dunkel and the other young guys did outstanding. Dunkel seemed to do what only a few of our dogs do, which is actually get strgoner thougout the race. He looked better 200 miles in, than he did at the beginning. Hats also go off to Quigley, Metoo’s brother, who led more than 75 percent of this race. He was undeniably one of the strongest dogs in the team, if not the kennel. Cole was 4th place overall and at the banquet last night she recived the SPortsmanship Award, which is given to the person other mushers in the race vote for for being a good sport and having good spirits thorughout the race. It was an honor for her.

First Checkpoint

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Wow! The team looked great coming into the firstcheckpoint. All the dogs we’re running strong, although Cole had to switch Metoo out of lead about halfway to Homer as she had blown too much energy in the starting chute howling and jumping around like a maniac. Wolf stepped up and worked with Penny to finish getting the team in.
Cole said the trail was beautiful and really set up for a good run for the dogs. The mandatory two-hour break didn’t allow her much time to rest, but the Homer people did a fantastic job of getting things ready for the dogs. The had straw and hot water ready, so mushers didn’t have to lose an hour to melt snow for dog food. The had plowed out a huge area too, so all the teams hd plenty of room to keep distance from each (see pic below, with amazing backdrop.
All the young dogs were having a blast. Cole said Dunkel, Woobie and Chuba-Bubba all who have never raced, we way, way into the experience. They even rested pretty good, rather than sitting up watching all the teams come in like a lot of young dogs do.
After the break, she left with all 14 dogs again. I’m bad with math, but as I said in the last post, I think after the starting time differentials are calculated, she is running around fourth or fifth. Hopefully, she won’t lose anytime on the way to the next checkpoint.
All for now.

T200 Start

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Yeah!!!! The race got off without a hitch and the dogs we’re more pumped to run than I’ve ever seen them (as evident by the pic above of Metoo levitating in the starting chute next to Penny). You could tell it had been far too long since they raced. Here’s some pics from the start.
According to the GPS tracking, Cole appears to be flying so far, and has already realed in several teams. Once the time differentials from the start are calculted, Cole should already be somewhere in the Top 5. Hopefully her speed will hold for the whole race!!!

Above, Quigley and Zoom were frothing at the mouth to go. You should have heard this team. Their howls could have woken the dead!

Here’s Cole leaving the chute in a chilly minus 26 degree cold. If you look to the bottom right of this picture, that’s Dunkel (behind blond-faced Keno) in his first race ever. Hopefully he’s having fun.

And they’e off. Cole and the team kicking up a spindrift of snow as the blast from the starting line.
More updates soon…hopefully (if I keep finding wifi). Stay tuned.

Last Minute T200 Entry

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Hi all! Hope you’re ready for race weekend. We are getting ready for the Tustumena 200 this Saturday, and from all reports on the trail and weather, it should be a good race.
It’s a little weird for us to be thinking the T200 will be our first race of the year, since for so many years this has been our last race of the season, but most of you know how it has gone so far. If not, as brief recap, we sat out most of the early season races to focus our efforts on the having the best Copper Basin 300 we could, but at the last minute (literally it seemed), the dogs got ill, and then even if they hadn’t the race was cancelled due to extreme cold and impassable trail.
Returning home we did what we thought was best and we shut the dogs down for a week to give them time to get well, since running dogs with a cough is an easy way to turn that cough into full-blown and much more life-threatening pneumonia. We also did not want to spread any germs to neighboring kennels (as happened to us). But, back to the Tustumena 200, which is our immediate focus.
It’s hard to say what our goal is for this race. The T200 wasn’t in our race plan until a week ago, and we usually try to train for specific races. We haven’t done that for the T200 and, if anything, the training we’ve done should work against us in this race.
We’ve seen the race course map already and the first half of the race is our EXACT early season training route, so not too sure how pumped up the dogs will be to run on a trail they’ve done a million times already. Also, since we were training for the CB300, where you can plan a run/rest schedule, we had planned to run at night, when the dogs are most comfortable. As a result, we did nearly all of our training at night (see pic above, a bit blurry, but I liked their eyes in this one). Sadly, though, the way the T200 works, most of the team’s longest runs will be during the heat of the day, so that too should have an effect on their performance.
Taking all this in, we decided to only put one good team into the race, rather than both of us taking teams. As stated we still have Iditarod to think about, and Cole would like to see how some of the dogs who didn’t get to race yet this season, or ever, will look while racing, to see if they could make her Iditarod team.
As such, she’ll likely be leaving out some of her most reliable veterans who finish every race, such as Goliath and Butterscotch, and instead taking dogs like Dunkel and Chubba-bubba, who have never raced before to see if they like it and do well. These are still great dogs though, which is why she is considering them for Idit, and the best way to test them out, will be to race them hard and see how they respond, so just because the deck is stacked against us, don’t think we’re going into this just to mosey down the trail.
Enjoy the race, not matter how it turns out. Even though the trail is familiar, the dogs will be totally amped to race when they get round all the other howling teams, and Cole is excited too. There should be GPS tracking this year though the T200 website, so everyone at home should know as much as me as to where she is in the pack, and I’ll try to put up photos and personal insight on how the dogs are doing as I get the info.
***Oh, one last thing, JerseyKat/Janet, we’ve tried emailing, send us your shirt size so we can mail it out to you.***

Everything Happens For a Reason

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Wow. I never would have thought that catching kennel cough right before a rce would be a good thing, but for anyone still following the Copper Basin 300, we really dodged a bullet and couldn’t be more thankful.
As of 9:30 this morning, the CB300 was CANCELLED due to 50-below temperatures and six feet snow drift that even snowmchines couldn’t make it through. These are conditions that we wouldn’t want our dogs in, even if they were 100 percent healthy, and yesterday morning they were not.
With one team coughing hours before the start, we considered trying to put together the remining healthy dogs for one 12-dog team, but we weren’t sure they wouldn’t show signs of the cough within hours, and as it turns out, on the drive home, several of the dogs that would have gone, started coughing too. At the time we withdrew (not scratched as initially reported) before the race start, it was a super tough decison to make, but doing what is right for the dogs is always the best decision.
As to what is next, we’re not sure. We have to get the dogs healthy again and then go over our budget. As some of you asked after yesterdy’s post, we did last Friday decide to pull out of the Quest. We signed up for two 1,000-mile rces (Quest and Iditarod) hoping we would grow some corporate sponsorship, but after months of trying, the only people sponsoring us were the same faithful mom-and-pop businesses, family and friends who have for years. We needed a couple thousnd dollrs in sponsorship to make it hppen and we only got a couple hundred, so we decided to pull out of Quest and focus all our efforts on the CB300 and Iditarod, and we all know now how the CB300 has turned out, so we’ll just have to hope for better for Iditarod.
There’s is still a chance we may put a team in the Tustumena 200, but we have to think long and hard about this. Preparing for the CB300 we did all our training on the T200 race trail, and dogs don’t really like to race hard where they training daily, so we’d hate to put money into the T200 just to have the dogs drag their feet through the whole thing.
Anyway, we’ll see, stay tuned for more next week and thnks gain everyone who supports us and our amazing dogs.

CB300 Withdraw

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Hey all, just a quick word for anyone who has been following the CB300 and gotten worried over not seeing us not start. We and the dogs are safe, but a filthy little microscopic germ has, pardon my French, completely fucked our race and possible our season.
When we left to come up here yesterday, one of the 24 dogs we picked to race was coughing a bit, by yesterday afternoon that dog was downright hacking and two others were starting to cough. By feeding at 11p.m. last night six were coughing and by this morning we’re up to 10 with Goliath and Metoo being two of the worst.
We called the vets this a.m. and had them listen to the dogs, they said Goliath already has some wetness in his lungs and diagnosed the rest as having the dreaded and highly contagious kennel cough.
Since at this time yesterday one dog was coughing and now there are 10, we are worried by this time tomorrow more in the teams will be. Even if they are not, we wouldn’t want to risk the health of the dogs already sick by running them in trail-breaking conditions and minus 30 temperatures. The vet agreed a case of kennel cough could easily turn into pneumonia by doing so. We also wouldn’t want to infect any other teams that could end up parking next to our dogs in checkpoints.
Another crushing part of this story is when we called home to see if any dogs back there were coughing too, a friend and fellow musher said kennel cough has been moving through the neighborhood kennels for more than a week. Had we only known, we could have tried to vaccinate our guys specifically for it to prevent this whole fiasco. They’re slated to get the vaccs before Iditarod anyway.
So, that’s the scoop. We withdrew before the race even began. It was the right decision to make for the well-being of the dogs, but it doesn’t feel any less shity. We only planned two races this season, this one and Iditarod and we really needed this race to spring board into peaking the dogs for Iditarod. We’ve put in so many hours and so much cash to get here and its all lost but the saddest part is the dogs really deserved the chance to go. They’ve been on the same boring trails all season and have been jazzed every time we’ve dropped them up here to eat or pee. They new the scent of new trail and they were excited to be on it, but now they won’t get the chance, and as two of our leaders (Cyder and Keno) are getting up there in age, so we, Cole and I, may never get the chance to do this together with two full teams. We’re hugely disapointed and are sorry to disappoint all of you who have given so much to us to get us here. Life suck at the moment. There’s nothing else to say.

Copper Basin Here We Come

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Screw beavers, we’ve been busy as mushers lately getting ready for our first race of the year: this weekend’s Copper Basin 300. This will be Cole’s fifth time competing in the event and my first. It’s tough to describe what we’re feeling right now. I’m not sure if there is even an English word for it since it is a mix of excitement, anxiousness and full-blown stress from all we’ve done the last few weeks to get ready for this. Not just from all the training either, but all the packing and planning too.
For those who don’t sleddog race, let me make an analogy. Imagine how you packed for your last huge vacation. Now imagine packing three times that amount in cold weather gear and all your food and drinks for the trip, and now imagine doing it for not just yourself, but 12 others too, or in this case with Cole and I both racing, it’s really packing for 24 others.
As you can see from the picture above and below, we’ve been doing our frozen meat and goods outside in the driveway (late at night after running the teams for 5-6 hours after work). The photo below is in our kitchen, where we’ve been doing the dry goods-packing like booties, dog coats, etc. It is just a tremendous amount of work, especially since this race annually throws everything Mother Nature can at us. We have to be prepared for everything.

In the past Cole has seen temps dip below minus 50, she has broken trail for hours, mushed through winds so strong they would be classified as hurricane force down in Florida, and hit overflow that was waste deep. This year, as some of you may have seen on the news since it is making national news, we are having an unprecedented winter for cold and snow. Nome can’t even get supplies the ice is so thick, even for ice-breaking ships, and in Cordova and down in Homer, (an hour south of us), they’ve had snow storms bring as much as 14 FEET in one night. As I type this, my greatest concern isn’t getting to the finish line of the race, it’s getting to the starting line. Avalanches on the one road to Anchorage have closed the highway for two days, and over night we got another 6-8 inches here, and they always get more snow in “the pass” where these avalanches keep occurring.
The trail of the Copper Basin sounds like it hasn’t been missed by all the falling white stuff. Reports are there are feet of fresh powder down, which could make for one heck of a hard race if it hasn’t had time to set-up, or even if it has, and the winds come up and start moving it around. We could be in for hours of marching the dogs in deep snow. Combine how hard this is with the predicted minus 30-40 temps and you have a really challenging situation.
Deep snow often means hard work on the musher too as we may have to run behind the sled through the deepest parts or possibly even snowshoe in front of the team if things get nuts, and with this work comes sweating, which in the deep minus temperatures gets every insulating layer of our clothes wet and cold. At checkpoints 50-60 people will try to dry gear near one tiny woodstove, if you’re not in first, the best you can hope for is to leave for the next leg damp. Dry is not an option.
I know all of this sounds horrible and some may ask why we would even do it. To be honest, as the race gets close and the wings of the butterflies in my stomach are flapping their hardest, I often ask myself that question, and if I had to say an answer it would be for the hope of adventure. We’ve never had it easy in the Copper Basin, but we’ve never had a boring adventure either. When you sign up for this race, you can rest assured you’ll be cold, tired, and miserable at times, but you’ll also see some beautiful views, meet some unique people, and mentally and physically test yourself in ways that can’t be simulated on training runs at home. We may succeed, we may fail, but we will definitely have an adventure this weekend.
Hope all of you following the race on the Internet get a taste of that adventure too. Wish us luck, we always need it, and while you’re sending out positive energy, please send some to our house dogs that we’ll be leaving behind with a house/dog sitter. Our oldest dog Tatika (pictured below with our newest little guy, Diesel) and the rest of the angels and trouble makers who live inside with us won’t be far from our thoughts as we leave them behind for the long weekend. I look forward to returning home to them, hopefully as a Copper Basin 300 veteran.