2019 3rd Place Beargrease 8 Dog 120 Miles
So about that Beargrease.... :) It was a super fun race aside from a few moments here and there lol:) This was my dads first year handling for me at the races instead of having to stay home to take care of the other dogs and the generator and plow the road ect... but he has always been involved with the day to day care, maintenance and training of the dogs with me, couldn't do it without all his help and of course he was a natural at handling!!! Just complained a bit that I got into the checkpoints too fast and he barely had time to get ready :)
Sundays race start just outside of Duluth was a beautiful sunny day which made it feel warmer... and not really any wind yay!!! Actual temps were in the minus but not sure how cold it was. The team was flying on the fast trail and we caught and passed all but two marathon teams. Since we were the 2nd mid-distance team leaving the chute that was easier to do:) Roughly 2/3rds of the way into the 35 mile run we come flying around a corner and I see a porcupine meandering down the trail!!! My heart leapt into my throat and I was like "on-by, on-by!!!!", praying the dogs would go around it without incident! The four dogs on the right side literally almost brushed against the porcupine and it flicked its tail slightly!!! yikes!!!! Thank the Lord we flew by unscathed! Whew!!!! So... did ANYONE else see the porcupine on the trail or was I the only one? When I told Ryan Anderson after the finish that I saw a porcupine on the trail on the first leg of the race he was like "what? You do have bad luck at this race don't you!" lol Probably recalling my bloody bit tongue dog from last year that happened when I was leap-frogging with him and a few other mushers when he ran the marathon last year and I was dealing with that issue and already had a dog in the bag:) Unfortunately that wasn't the only heart-stopping moment of the race...
After the first leg of the race the top three teams were 17-18 seconds apart from each other with me in 3rd so close race! Shortly after coming into the first checkpoint I made the mistake of letting two dogs clean up a few leftovers of the light meal another dog didn't finish. We rarely ever have any problem with dog fights but with no warning the one male bit the other male and blood spurted (mostly onto me) from the puncture about an inch from his eye on his muzzle! My dad immediately put pressure to stop the bleeding and I grabbed a bandage from my sled. My dear friend Beth who I haven't seen in years (her dad, Stan, mentored me and gave me dogs when I was just getting started up in dog sledding:) but we have been besties forever was at the start and first checkpoint and she was a HUGE help! She ran off to find a vet, and my Dad with the help of another person, carried him to the heated trailer to treat him. The vets are amazing!!! After laying out straw for the dogs to bed down on I had to go see to my injured dog so left poor Beth with jacketing everyone! Thank goodness she was there to help us or I don't know what we would have done!!! Poor Bandit had to have 4 staples put in to stop the bleeding but the vets told me they would take them out after 2 hours and try super-gluing it if it wasn't bleeding as he could not continue the race with metal on his face as it would cause frostbite. Poor Bandit, bit, staples put in, taken out... 2nd race for him as a yearling... he was ok'd to continue the race by the vets with further monitoring at the next checkpoint but he was not on his game on the 2nd leg of 38 miles and I don't blame him with all that happened! I dropped him at the 2nd checkpoint as well as one of my main leaders, Viva, a 7 yr. old female who has been a super star leader for me one of my best ever! She had a sore shoulder so was out of the race leaving me with 6 solid dogs for the final 45 hilliest miles of the whole race!
Those six dogs did absolutely amazing for me and we left the 2nd checkpoint in 3rd place, flying along through the night with the strong winds blowing the driving snow at my face making me feel like I was in warp speed in Star Wars :) A team that was ahead of us after the first leg left a minute behind me but passed us shortly... then we caught and eventually passed the team in 3rd place moving back up into 3rd which after that didn't see anyone and I just enjoyed the ride down the hills and ran and peddled all I could on all the up hills (of which it seemed more up hill then down hill, just sayin'! :) while trying to see over the top of my totally fogged up glasses and partially fogged up goggles!! Oh and a stop to change headlamps when the one I was wearing burned out at Sawbill:) One funny thing was one of my leaders, Tamar, would apparently get mad or frustrated when we were climbing the super steep, super long hills too slowly to suit her and she would start squealing and barking and the whole team would speed up! That was a nice boost! Over all it was a great race that turned out well despite our problems and reduced numbers and I am SO proud of my team for how well they did!!!! Also a bittersweet race as it was my last time racing my super star leader Vader, now 8 1/2 years old and still rocking it!!! Not sure if he was the oldest dog in the top three finishing teams but impressive performance nonetheless and while he is going to a super awesome home he will be missed terribly! The team members were Viva, Tamar, Nikita, Katniss, Vader, Bandit, Warrior and Soldier!
Congrats to Champion Ryan Anderson on his awesome team's performance and finishing with all 8 dogs!!! ANd also to Martha Schouweiler and her amazing team of 7 that finished in 2nd place!!!! And all the other finishers! So great to see all our wonderful friends and meet new ones!!! See ya at the next race!!! Oh and I almost forgot to mention that I won a drawing for a really nice jacket from Duluth Trading Company that fits my dad perfectly!! ;)