Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Race To The Sky

My final 12 had been chosen for Race To The Sky, but I decided to take one extra dog as an alternate in case there was any problem with anyone at the vet check. As it turned out, we passed the vet check with flying colors, and the vet complimented me on how well muscled my dogs were. The only things noted were some healed splits in the feet of some of the dogs, and two males were just a little thin. I had spent two hours cutting up our precious two blocks of Champaine Race Diet into snack size pieces, so I knew that appetite and weight maintenance would not be a problem with those two. My dogs were all tired of eating the huge amount of kibble I had been feeding, and they really craved the meat.

In addition to the race dogs, we also loaded up Rose, housepet and retired sled dog who always goes to the race with us, Walnut, whose shaved belly from being spayed would put her at risk for frostbite if left home, and Goldie, who is so old and feeble that Mike worried she might die during the race. So, with 16 dogs and all our gear in the truck, we headed north to pick up our handler, Kit, swing by the head vet's office to update a few rabies certificates, and finally settle into our host family's house in Helena, Montana.

Our host family in Helena is truly wonderful. They have hosted us every year since 2001. They were waiting for us with a wonderful meal of chicken and dumplings. They have a sweet old Golden Retriever and three cats. Their two young boys remembered Rose and wanted her in the house, and I was happy to oblige them.

The next day - Friday - was the vet check, driver's meeting, and bib drawing. This year they drew the bibs ahead of time, but they still made us stay for the dinner and auction. One of the hardest things about this race is the late evening activities they make the mushers go to before the race so that one hardly has time to sleep. I have a particular problem with this, needing more sleep than most people. I also needed to go shopping for some last minute stuff, like trail snacks and drinks for myself, and some items for the first aid kit. Mike drove all over town looking for some waterproof matches because I couldn't seem to find mine anywhere. With the help of our host family, he finally located some. Ironically, the missing ones turned up the next day while I was packing my sled before the start of the race.

In spite of the last minute chores and lack of sleep, I was less nervous than I usually am before a race. Perhaps it was because the first day was going to be a 50 mile run only, with a restart taking place the day after for the remaining 300 miles. So the first day seemed sort of like it would be a dry run, a walk through, a first draft, a practice session. I was looking forward to it.


Wow, time sure flies when you're tired! I was planning to start writing my race stories right away, and here it is Tuesday already. We had a big rain shower in the middle of the night, and then it rained all day. It turned to snow just before dark, and the wind is really howling. Doing chores was not too bad because of the warm temps, but still ... it was windy and wet, and I felt sorry for the dogs who are stuck out there without a cozy wood stove to snuggle close to.

The snow level has dropped only enough to reveal where the dogyard fence lies. That is the five foot level. I would go out and take some pictures, but hey, the weather is nasty, and I don't want the camera to get all wet. Perfect weather for sitting inside writing, eh? So ... here goes.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Back Home

I am back home after being away at races for most of the month. I am trying to catch up on my sleep now, but I will try to get some stories on here as quick as possible. I ran the 350 mile Race To The Sky and the 150 mile Canadian Challenge.