Monday, January 21, 2008

White Oak Classic, Snow & TrainingLarry's 3rd place team White Oak 18 mile Class

Franklin, one of our 7 month old pups out of Zoey/Strider

Eddie & Jackson playing in the dog yard

Boston, one of our yearlings out of Zoey/Strider
Well, it has been awhile since I last posted, we've been busy as usual. A couple of weeks ago we went out to race the White Oak Classic in Deer River, Minnesota. We split the trip with Jerry Papke and his dad Carl, who I have known my whole life. Our dad's have known each other since high school and had lots of fun together over the years. It was a nice trip out, clear roads etc., so we really lucked out. Traveling in the U.P. along Highway 28 can be very dangerous and usually always we have white out conditions, but this time we did not. Larry's Uncle Bill, who lives in Minnesota, also met us out there and stayed for the weekend to watch us race our crazy dogs. He had fun seeing us race and we are so glad that he came out there to watch what we do. People have no idea what it takes to get the dogs ready, all the work, feeding, poop scooping, dropping dogs etc., until they see it with their own eyes. So race day went very well for Larry and his team. He was running Windows & Tefa as leaders in the 18 mile rec class and 4 of our most promising yearlings: Boston, Jackson, Gibson, & Fender. His team was on fire and did really well with all the passing and distractions that being in a race present. He ended up finishing 3rd, only about 20 seconds from 2nd place. We are so proud of his team and all our future stars. My race was going well, but 60 miles proved to be too much for a couple of our dogs after racing 42 the weekend before at Tahquamenon. I decided to use the race as a training run and only run 38 miles and scratch when I got to the first checkpoint at Squaw Lake. I was pretty dissapointed, but we are still learning a lot about racing and dogs. I have learned to race smarter, don't burn out the dogs going too fast in the beginning when you have a LONG way to go. Also, we may be expecting too much from some of our veterans. While our veterans are good dogs, racing back to back weekends may have been too much them them this year. This racing thing is very hard, we are still building a kennel of dogs to run the UP 200 in a few years, but we really have to be smarter about it. We have gotten a lot of good advice from Frank Holmberg and Pete & Sharon Curtice and we will use it for the future of our teams. So, after that we began the LONG drive home, 13.5 hours worth of driving. When we got to Ironwood it was like a blizzard out! It was 10:00 at night and we couldn't see a thing. There was already atleast 8" of snow on the road and it wasn't ending anytime soon. Instead of "white knuckling" it, we decided to stop there for the night. I am glad we did, it was pretty scary. When we woke up, more than a foot of snow had fallen. The good thing was, the snow plows were out in full force and every road was clear and salted. We really lucked out again on our trek down 28 and we had a good drive home. Oh, I forgot, Jerry Papke ran the 60 mile 6 dog pro with 3 of his dogs and 3 of Frank H.'s dogs and placed 3rd overall and had a great race. We also came home to a crapload of new snow. Before we left for the race a week before we got a thunderstorm, yes a thunderstorm, that melted almost all our snow. So all the new snow was a welcome sight!! It has snowed almost every day since we've gotten back. Our trails are awesome once again. We've been taking the dogs on short fun runs to get their attitudes back. It has also helped us mushers get our attitudes back as well. It was very cold this past weekend, but we had a blast on our 15 milers. Zoey injured her toe on the last run, so she is inside recouperating, but will hopefully be back in training this weekend. Sucks cause she is one of the dogs I am taking on the Midnight Run in less that a month and she will miss our 40 mile campout run tomarrow. I am taking our best 12, including some yearlings, on a 40 mile run tomarrow morning to see who does best and then Larry will hook them up again that same day (after they've rested a few hours) when he gets home to do another shorter run. In the Midnight Run, we run 49 miles, take a 5 hour layover, then run another 40, so we want to see who has the get-up-and-go to do back to back runs before race time. It should be interesting as we are supposed to get dumped on with more snow tonight and tomarrow. Our next race is in 1.5 weeks, at Bayfield Wisconsin. Both me and Larry will race the 6 dog, 30 miles Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully we both have good, clean runs this time!!! Well, that is all for now, can't wait for it to warm up, all this below zero weather is COLD!!!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tahquamenon 2008My team before the start

My team at the first road crossing 6 miles into the race

My team approx. 12 miles into the race

Larry's team approx. 12 miles into the race
Well, we had quite an ordeal at our first race of the year. To start, it was VERY warm out. It was about 45 degrees, which is very warm for the dogs. Otter was not right from the beginning and wasn't keeping a tight line in lead from the start. After the first road crossing, I took her out of lead and put Odessa upfront with Star. My team was keeping a great pace at this point. About 15 miles in, I had to bag Otter. She wanted to go no further. I don't know if it was the heat or an injury since she just was not herself. The thing that is really unfortunate is there is no dog drop till the last 6 miles of the race, so I had to continue on for the next 20 miles with a 55 pound dog in the bag. I watched as all the magic my team had was zapped away. There were so many hills out there, I was tired from having to push the sled up with Otter in the bag. When I FINALLY got to the last road crossing, I dropped Otter and continued on to the finish. My team picked right back up again after otter was out of the bag. They loped and looked great that last 6 miles. I was very proud of them, even though we now had no chance of finishing in the top 10. We still finished 15th pace with a time of 3:47, which is pretty good considering all that I went through. My finishers were: Star & Odessa in lead, Cowgirl, Duelly, and Fender, Boston & Jackson were my 3 yearlings that did super!!
Larry had quite a race. His team was keeping a very nice pace, till Jersey, one of our yearlings got tired on him. He bagged her for about 4 miles. Then he put her back in the team and she ended up doing a super job for him. After about mile 30, Windows, our 8 year old leader, tired out and didn't want to go any further. The last dog drop was still a few miles away, so instead of going there, Larry turned the team around and went to the 12 dog drop, which was closer, but not one of the 8 dog drops. So, he made it there, dropped Windows and scratched from the race. He still wanted to continue since the rest of the team was still doing well, so he turned his team around and got back to the 8 dog trail. Meanwhile he came up on Tom Clark, one of the 12 dog racers. Tom only had his sled and two dogs, his gangline snapped and his front 10 dogs took off down the wrong trail. So Larry put Tom's dogs in his team and tied a rope from his sled to Tom's and towed him to the last road crossing. He left Tom there with the volunteers and continued on the last 6 miles to the finish line. I expected him to have a huge scoul on his face when he finished with all the had to deal with out there. But, I was wrong, he finished with a smile and was proud of his dogs that finished, even though he ran about 4-5 miles further than he had to to drop Windows at the 12 dog drop and then back -track to the 8 dog trail. He ended up running 46-47 miles instead of 42. I am so proud of Larry for STILL finishing after all that. There is no way I could have done the same thing. Our next race is this weekend if the dogs look good on our Wednesday training run. Hopefully we will have a fun/uneventful race this time!!!