Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'rod Racers Mixin' it Up on the Trail

When I got off duty at 6 this morning I headed for the rack straightaway, grabbed a few hours of slumber (something those racing mushers most likely would envy about now), and was up and more or less alert at noon-thirty. We have a crisp, clear day today with the sun now high enough above the horizon to be a major player in the cycle of life. When mushing during the day this time of year a good pair of sunglasses is required equipment to prevent the misery of snow-blindness. The reflected glare from the snow might not burn your retinas, but it will do serious damage to your corneas.

Looking at my favorite blogs, it looks like Miriam Cooper and some friends had a wonderful time running dogs down at JaSin's place in Nenana. I haven't yet met JaSin because my work schedule has always interfered with his planned outings, but I've been heard nothing but good things about him, his team, and the 'home trails' that he graciously shares with other recreational mushers.

Looking at the I'rod leader board this morning, it seems the leading racers are now out of the Kaltag checkpoint, but were mixing things up a bit on the trail from Eagle Island. Mackey's still the 'lead dog', but some of his stronger competitors have shortened the gap by a significant margin. Sebastian Schnuelle left Eagle Island 5th position, but has since passed Hugh Neff, Jeff King, and Mitch Seavey to regain second place, and left Kaltag slightly less than two hours behind the race leader. Sebastian isn't the only one who has picked up the pace a bit. Jeff King and Mitch Seavey have both passed Hugh Neff. Although King left Kaltag ahead of Mitch, it was only by about 5 minutes.

While most of our focus is on the world famous Iditarod, it's not the only event happening in Alaska this weekend. Locally, the Two Rivers 200 was run over the weekend, and won by Tom LeSatz, with Abbie West taking second. Braxton Peterson, one of Lance Mackey's handlers, too third and Mark May fourth. Although I haven't heard any trail reports, I know that volunteers had to put in some very long days in order to break out a trail for the race after a record setting snowfall just a week ago.

My own training plans for my up-coming R&R are becoming more firm in my mind. I have to schedule things around a dental visit, a meeting with my tax preparer, and a medical procudure during the second week of the R&R. I'm giving serious thought to entering a 6-dog team in the Valley Funale event on the 28th. I think it would be good for my younger dogs to experience the sights, sounds and scents of a race environment.

That's all the news I can think of to share this afternoon, but I may write later this evening, once I've gotten settled in at my place of employment.

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