Day 25: Alaska ~ Limited North American Championships Day 2

UserJessica DohertyTime2013-03-17 07:29:00

Saturday, March 9th 2013 Day 2 ~ Limited North American Championships

Today is supposed to be a bit cooler than yesterday, maybe will reach the low 30s for a high. Dawn Brown, the race veterinarian, said it was a good day Friday as no dogs suffered heat stress. The temps yesterday were really warm ~ up to 44F. That means there are both very good dogs and good mushers here for sure, folks that know their dogs, can read them and know how to prevent things of this nature in the unusually warm temps. Many people were doing preventative cooling before the race wetting dogs down with wash clothes/sponges/squirt bottles.

We pull into the race site and I go in and see that my 6-Dog Team has been selected for drug testing. I was given a red pie plate to put on my windshield. Shortly thereafter the race vet Dawn comes over to our truck with some assistants and asks me to tell her which boxes the males are in my team. I choose a sealed cup for the urine collection. She points to a box of her choosing and out comes Eli who promptly starts to pee and it was very easy to collect it using the long stick that holds the pee cup. That was over fast. I should get that set-up so I can collect urine easier and bring it to my own vet when I want a urinalysis done. I asked her what are the most common things that have shown on a positive result. She said she has not seen a positive in so long but once there was a certain type of penicillin that is used in cattle that came from the beef the dogs were eating. Interesting. I'll be glad to switch back to chicken when we get home. We are feeding beef while on the road as the dogs drink better with it.
Jolene had bad diarrhea this morning but it eating good, hopefully she is not coming down with a bug.

The Skijor and 4-Dog go off without incident. It is a faster course today but Jeff is a few seconds slower than yesterday. Poor Jeff, he was really sick last night and this morning and almost had to scratch. He hung on for the skijor though and muddled through somehow. Jolene also muddled through, I don't think she is 100% today. Jolene and Loretta love the finish here because Brian and I are cheering them on and they run in hard and then we take them off the line and run them to the car and take care of them. Lily had a good run in the 4-Dog. It's really awesome that our 3 other dogs are getting to run this weekend. I would have been bummed it if we brought them all this way to not even race at all. This is also good for them to get out for 3 days of running before we hit the long road back home.

Time for the 6-Dog now. I still wet the dogs a little, but not a lot like yesterday. I did not soak the harnesses today, they actually are still a little damp from yesterday.

We use the Red/Yellow combo waxed runners for today, mostly because we didn't rewax the ones from yesterday that were all Red. The wax is probably too warm but the sled seems to glide real nice in the staging area.

I have the same helpers as yesterday, plus Janet Saxon comes over and helps too. Rose has got Jay Olmstead so I feel good about that. Eli eats Brian's coat again all the way to the start as he always does. He is like a spectacle.

We take off slower than yesterday, but still very fast and stay around 22.5-23 for a considerable way. I lift the mat after we get past the 4-mile turn off. The trail is for sure faster and it's cooler in the woods here so the dogs are on fire.

I should have left the mat down longer as Rose and Lefty were pushing Tim for speed. Rose got her leg over her neckline and she tried hard to get out of the tangle on 3 legs but couldn't. I tried to slow down enough so she could get out of it but she fell before I could slow enough. I stopped, she popped up and fixed herself and off we were again. Poor Rosie Marie. My fault for not having my foot or mat down when I saw Tim being pushed a little too much by the girls. Shortly after we turn into the 6.2 mile turn, the entire dog team gets all out of rhythm and starts looking around, especially to the left. Dean and Eli are really weirded out by something. I couldn't see as I was only looking at the team but I'm sure it was moose. Let's get the hell out of here, again! A repeat of yesterday.
A little ways down the trail, Tim starts to look a little weird, 3 seconds later he stops dead and has mad diarrhea all over the trail. Oh man, poor Tim. Once he was done, we take off and shortly down the trail, the team gets back in unison and off we go. I wonder if Tim is getting what Jolene had this morning? When we get to the bottom of the big incline, the team is full of it and we go up that hill at 19mph, no joke. They were in rare form today, let me tell you. The finish is not far now and the dogs bring it and run for the finish in sweet fashion.

Time 17.33 Distance 6.2 miles Avg Speed 21.1mph

We broke our own track record from yesterday, even with the trouble today. I know we could have done it in about 17.10 if it was a clean run. But I'll take it:)

Now, Greg Sellentin, who was behind me, had a serious close encounter with a snowmobile on a remote cross path. What the hell are they doing out there!?! He has a video of it on his Facebook page. It made my heart sink and I felt sick after watching it. If he arrived at that spot 2-3 seconds faster then things would not have turned out so good. His team missed the collision with the snowmobile and was a little out of sorts for a way, then got rolling again.

Grace Baily had a sweet run today and moved right up in the standings. Cool!

After the race, we head to Cold Spot Feeds for hay. The last hay we bought there was awesome. The stuff today could built a raft with. It had all kinds of sticks and it was brown compared to the nice green hay we had got before. What do you want for $17? I'll be glad when we can buy our excellent hay at home again for $3.50. Most everything is considerably more expensive up here.

After that we head to Bridget and Stan Schwafel's house in the hills surrounding Fairbanks. They are the parents of Hilary Schwafel who is going to school at Tufts in Mass. I met Hilary at the Auburn NH Dryland Race back in November. Her parents are very nice and were super welcoming, inviting all us from the East and Janet from Colorado to their home for dinner. It was Jocelyn Bradbury, Lily Stewart, Janet Saxon, Kelley McGrath, her daughter Sam, who is a about to finish law school in 6 weeks or so! And Brian. Bridget made Indian food and I ate literally a 3 person portion I was so hungry and it was so good. I ate double than every other person at the table. I can't say I was embarrassed. We stayed for a while chatting and watching Lily's 4-Dog Mass Start video from the World Championship ~ that was WILD! Talk about extreme sport. Teams 3 and 4 wide across a 12 foot wide trail, jockeying for position the entire way around the course. No passing rules, it's no man's land all the way and pure insanity. I'll stick with interval starts for sure!

After that we checked into the North Pole Hotel, it was fairly late, maybe about 930pm or so. There was a mini birthday party for Ken Chezik going on in the conference room but we couldn't join because we had to bring all our stuff in and still water our dogs. By the time we were done, it was over anyway as it was late.

As I get ready for bed, my mind wanders to tomorrow. Tomorrow is Day 3 and it's 8 miles. Not 1 of our dogs has ever run 8 miles. They have run 20-21 minutes on slower, shorter trails, but have never done anything over 6.5 fast. I am unsure if I have any weaknesses after that distance/time at speed. The track record is 23.07 set by Dagenais Kennel from Quebec in 2012. Most very good teams seem to do it in 24 to 24.5 minutes. I really don't know how our guys will do, and I'm not really sure how to run them either. I've got a lot of good tips from Dawn Brown and Martin Dagenais but everyone has to make their own decision on how they will run their own dog team as each team and the dogs that comprise it are different. I'm pretty sure I can't let them run at their preferred pace of 22, except a little at the beginning to make them happy. They are strong at 6.5 so hopefully they can tough out the rest. The weather should be even cooler than today in the upper 20s to lower 30s. That is a blessing. I think I would be extremely happy if we do it in 24 minutes. I have about a 2 minute lead going into the last day and I'm looking to hold onto it hopefully.

Brian is so good to me tonight and does both of the last drops as I fell asleep...