Monday, March 9, 2009

Chaos on the Trails

Those following the 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race have probably noticed that there have been several leader changes today. Just a few minutes ago the I'rod leader board showed Rick Swenson coming first into the Rohn checkpoint, but already it now shows both Paul Gebhart and Sebastian Schnuelle out of Rohn, while Rick remains behind. I imagine things aren't nearly so chaotic out there as it might seem to those of us trying to follow the race on-line. Only 1 day into the race, the teams are still bunched up pretty closely and with deep snow conditions that have been previously reported, it is very common for mushers to leap-from along, taking turns at breaking trail.

The trail between Rainy Lake and Rohn must have been in pretty good shape, though. All of the teams currently into Rohn averaged between 10 1/2 and 11 1/2 miles per hour between the two checkpoints. That is a pretty smoking pace in a long distance race. I'm guessing it will be at least a couple more days before we can clearly identify the front running teams with the best odds of winning, and even then it might be difficult. For the moment, there's a whole lot of passing going on out there.

Meanwhile, my training partner Lynn Orbison had an evening of mushing that also qualified as "chaotic". It's said that no good turn goes unpunished, and when Lynn offered to take a bunch of girl's high-school hockey players from "Outside" on dog sled rides, her efforts became rather chaotic and a bit punishing. Rather than try to tell a chaotic, complicated story second hand, you can read Lynn's first-hand account on the Alaskan Husky Behavior Forum at Her account of the affair left me laughing out loud, and you don't have to be a dog musher to see the humor in the situation.


  1. I did enjoy that link to Lynn's late afternoon but I bet it was work!

  2. It does sound like Lynn had a full evening. I'm glade the team got to do some real Mushing but I expect they were surprised at how dog teams work as well. I wonder if the three who didn't get a ride, will come back and work with the dogs again, if they were ever given 1/2 a chance to. Sounds like the dogs are doing well, being fiesty and all. It's one thing to be working with dogs. but add in humans who don't know much about what's going on.. and you can have either a riot or a grand time.