Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beargrease 150 7th place!!!!!
Larry and "Little Tiny Tefa" after the race. We had our doubts about her leading our team for this length of a race. With our main leader, Zoey, out with a toe injury, we had to rely on Tefa to get the job done. She did amazing, we will never doubt her again!! She pulled her heart out and gave it her all the entire race!
Larry & Odessa at the race start

Prophet, ready to go

Our yearling, Curlin, in booties for the first time. The trail was a bit abraisive, so we bootied our entire team to protect their feet for the first 2 legs of the race.

George (front), our super 2 year old main leader, and Gibson (rear), before the race start

Tefa and George leading the team into the starting chute

Larry's team finishing 7th place out of 42 teams. The finish was so icy, they had to stop teams at the top of the hill and undo the tuglines so they couldn't pull as hard coming down to prevent any injuries to the dogs. There was also a bunch of people onhand to grab the teams and stop them at the bottom of the hill. Larry finished the race with all 8 dogs.

Larry (above) and George after the race. George was so awesome! It is amazing that he is that good in lead at only 2 years old. He was excited to see what was around every corner for 106 miles!

With me having a knee injury, Larry got his chance, once again to race the Beargrease 150, a 106 mile race that starts in Duluth, Minnesota and finishes in Tofte. He loves this race and was so excited to start! The first leg is 35 miles. The team starts in Duluth and runs to their first checkpoint in Two Harbors.

While Larry is racing, I get the fun of driving our truck and HUGE dog trailer 40 miles to the checkpoint. When I arrive, I quickly have to find a parking spot. It is a race for the handlers to get all our gear to the actual checkpoint, 1/4 mile away and secure a great spot to rest our teams. This year, I was smart and brought two big plastic sleds to haul everything in one trip. I fit a bale of straw, a huge duffle bag filled with wrist wraps, linement, booties, etc., a chair for me, a shovel, 5 gallons of water, a cooker and a cooler on the sleds and used bungees to secure everything. It was VERY heavy, but I quickly drug it into the checkpoint and found a nice spot next to our friend Dave Turner's team. Thad & Stepanie, Dave's handlers were already busy digging a snow trench for his team. This is my least favorite checkpoint because of all the work involved for the handlers. It is basically a large field filled with snow. So, the handlers (that being me and only me) have to dig a trench in the snow big enough to fit an entire 8 dog team. Not to mention, we had to haul our teams over a gigantic snow bank to get into our trench that was over my head. I got trench dug, supplies ready, boiled water and poured it into the cooler of meat and then went to the finish line to wait for Larry.

I figured he'd be coming through in about a half hour. Well, that came and went, a few teams came in, and about 20 minutes later, Larry came in. The team looked fantastic and frisky, but the look on Larry's face said it all. Something went wrong. We got our team to our trench, took off booties, fed, put down straw, put coats on, and massaged shoulders and wrists and let them rest. Larry then told me he missed the turn coming into Two Harbors. He came to a fork in the trail and couldn't see the turn arrows. Our leaders wanted to go left, but he told them "straight ahead". He went for about 10 minutes the wrong way before realizing he took the wrong trail. He had to turn the team around and go back 10 minutes and turn onto the correct trail. Larry was very disapointed with his error, especially since the team had a flawless run. Our goal at this first checkpoint was 2.5 to 3 hours of rest for the team before continuing on to the 2nd 38 mile leg of the race. Larry was pretty down, so I gave him a pep talk to get him on the right track. There was nothing we could do about the wrong turn now except to go out and run a fantastic race for the last 2 legs. After that, Larry came back to the checkpoint with a good attitude and petted up the team. After 2.5 hours, we got the dogs ready and led them out of the snow trench and over the gigantic snow bank. In the process, I fell down the bank and re-injured my knee. It wasn't as bad as the first time though and me and two other volunteers got Larry started on the 2nd leg of the race. Then, I hauled all our gear 1/4 mile back to the truck and drove another 30-40 miles to Finland, the last checkpoint of the race.

This is where Larry and the team would take their remaining rest (you have to take 8 hours total plus your time differential), approximately 6.5 hours. I arrived at the checkpoint, found a parking spot and busied myself preparing for the team's arrival. When Larry's team arrived, again, they looked fantastic! Fresh and frisky like they never ran! We lead them to the truck (this checkpoint is awesome because you don't have to haul gear or dig snow trenches), and did our checkpoint routine, and then let the dogs rest in the deep straw around the trailer. We put coats and blankets over them to keep them warm and comfortable. We found out shortly after, that even with the wrong turn, Larry's team would be leaving for the finish line after our rest in 7th place out of 42 teams! I was shocked that we were that far up in the standings given our mistake. About an hour before Larry started the last leg, we watered the dogs and then walked them around on leashes to see if anybody was stiff. 7 out of 8 looked great. "Little Tiny Tefa" had a sore wrist, but nothing serious. She is one tough little dog. We massaged her wrist with Accede, and walked her around to stretch it out. We got the rest of the team ready, Tefa & George still in lead and off Larry went on the last 33 miles of the race. I then drove another 30 miles or so to the finish line in Tofte and waited for them to finish.

Larry had an awesome run on the 3rd leg and the team flew! They ran like they were still fresh and Tefa and George really came through and did an awesome job leading the team the entire race! Larry finished in 7th place! I am so proud of Larry and all 8 of our dogs: Tefa, George, Fender, Odessa, Prophet, Curlin, Gibson & Jackson. I can't wait to race this next year. Maybe I'll be healthy by then!

Our next race is the 91 mile Midnight Run in Marquette, Michigan on Feb. 19th. My knee is healing nicely and I've been training the dogs for over a week now. I am racing the main team and Larry is racing the 2nd team. I can't wait!!!


Kathleen said...

Congratulations on Beargrease!! It was nice to meet you Joann. I'll be coming to Marquette to pick up my puppy from Shannon. I can hardly wait. Good luck to both you and Larry at the Jackpine.

Lazy Husky Ranch said...

Glad your knee is on the mend. I'll be heading up on Thursday. Gimme a call if you need a hand with anything at all.

Kathleen: you're so silly! They're running the Midnight Run :-)

Thiruppathy Raja said...

what an exciting experience!/Hilorious! Delightful! True!
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