News from the Stardancers
I ran a team of seven today, putting two-year-old leader in training Amazing Grace up front in single lead to see what she really knows or doesn't know. I also had yearlings Cassiopeia (Cassie) and Capella in the team position. I put two other leaders, Just who is really strong and leader-in-training Rosie, in the swing position just in case Grace needed some help. Eventually she did, but she did over half the run, including some gee/haw direction work, without any significant help from a running partner (though I noticed Just was passing notes under the table).
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video ought to be worth a million. This is a fairly large file, about 55 MB, so you may want to download it direct from YouTube rather than wating for it load on this page.
In the video, you can see Grace processing and then responding to directional cues. You can also see some other behaviors. Nels had to be cued to "duck under" the gangline, and Capella learned how to poop on the run, and did it quite nicely.
Shortly after the end of this clip, I cued Grace to 'gee' onto a side trail, but she just couldn't figure it out. I went up front and pulled her into the correct direction, but she tried following me back to the sled and when I turned to place her back on the trail she cut under the gang line right behind the swing dogs, resulting in a helluva tangle. After sorting that out I moved Just up beside Grace to give her a hand, and the run home was pretty uneventful.
Let's Get Caught Up on the Races
In the Yukon Quest, Lance Mackey and Hugh Neff arrived neck to neck into Pelly Crossing checkpoint, at 2:04 and 2:05 pm. When I last reported, it looked like Hans was resting his team back at Stepping Stone hospitality stop, and I fully expected him to blaze through Pelly with only the briefest of stops. He surprised me (and probably his competitors) by stopping at 4:10. According to the YQ Facebook Page, Lance and Hugh left together about half an hour ago. Apparently Hugh is still at the checkpoint.
The Live Tracker shows Zach Steer in fourth, still working his way out of the Black Hills toward Stepping Stone. He has a good 10 miles on fifth place Ken Anderson. Ken is followed by Sonny Lindner and Brent Sass. Abbie West appears to be resting her team at the Indian River Bridge with Josh Cadzow.
When our front-runners leave Pelly Crossing they will be traveling over relatively flat terrain with no major obstructions. Some of it is river running and some on firebreak trails that are described as "unremarkable". Depending upon where the trail has been set the distance from Pelly Crossing to Carmacks is 75 to 80 miles. It can be done in a single, long run if one of our leading mushers wants to make a big move, but I suspect at least two of the top 3 will do it in two.
1st Place - DeCaro / Sheftel arrived at 11:37 am with 19 dogs
2nd Place - Kaduci / Bailey, arrived 11:57 with 18/
Near photo finish for third and fourth. There is video on the SP Kennel Dog Log blog or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0IQEnv2LvY.
3rd place - Smith / Schmidt at 12:05:12 with 19.
4rh place - Moore / Watkins at 12:05:16 with all 20.
You can find the rest of the standings at http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AqiFqCFRf7YVdF9MSUJQZjhnMlZ2aU02V1N0eHRuMmc&hl=en
When I got home from my run I snacked the working team and got them settled before feeding, watering and scooping everyone in the yard. Then I made the mistake of sitting down. Now my right knee is swollen and aching, and I have no clue what I might have done to it out there on the trail. I think I'm going to take some ibuprofen and call it a good day well spent.