I fed and tended the dogs early, and waited for a customer to stop by to purchase some black powder. While I was waiting I caught up on the race news, which was pretty easy as there wasn't much news to share. Today the final group of mushers are gaining ground toward the finish line. Jodi Bailey finished the race in 7th place at 6:03 this evening. Mike Ellis and Dave Dalton are en route from the Two Rivers checkpoint, and are expected to finish later tonight. Tamara Rose and Kyla Durham are both at the Two Rivers checkpoint and should cross the finish line before noon, tomorrow. Jerry Joinson and Hank DeBruin are both en route to Two Rivers from the Mile 101 checkpoint.
After my customer left I headed out to run my own dogs. I recently purchased a new digital video recorder to replace the little spy-cam that was producing such jerky looking clips, and I'm quite pleased with it. It has some fancy bells and whistles that I still haven't figured out how to use, but I did figure out how to get some nice footage of my team as we ran through the swamp trail. Followers of this blog know that the "Swamp Trail" section is one of my favorites, and I hope the video clip will give you some ideas of why.
Here is today's entry in our training journal:
Two Teams Today.
Rose and Just (L)
Nels & Orion (S/T)
Beau & Grace
8.5 miles. Home to powerline ROW to Two Rivers Rd. Trail to Wood Cutting Rd., to Little Chena Extension to Swamp Trail and return home.
Some powder on hard-pack, some icy hardpack, some packed powder.
+5 degrees (F) at start. +12 (F) at finish.
Grace was grabbing lines during hook up, which was a real pain in the butt as I had hooked her up first. Beau was his good ol' easy-going self. Orion was jumping and banging his harness, but not really a problem about it. Nels tried to turn back toward the sled but I corrected him a couple of times and then he did pretty good. Rose was easy, but Just twisted in his harness as I tried to clip him in, resulting in a tangle that took some time to correct.
The sled was dragging quite a bit at launch, which helped keep the speed under control until they could warm their muscles a bit. I let them have their heads on the Two Rivers Rd. trail, and they picked the pace up to about 13 mph or so and they didn't slow significantly until we got onto relatively unbroken snow beyond the Swamp Trail intersection.
My leaders tried to take a left onto the swamp trail, but correctly easily and then trotted steadily up the hill toward the wood cutting road. A fair amount of overhanging branches had me ducking out of the way from time to time on that stretch.
I gave them a 15 second 'blow' at the based of the steep embankment onto the wood cutting road, and they then pulled me steadily right up it. Nels got under the gangline during the climb and was crowding Orion until I stopped on the Little Chena Extension to fix it. The wood cutting road was improved over the last time I ran it, but not by a whole lot.
The leaders hesitated to take the "haw" onto the extension trail, but did so in reasonably short order. I ran them up the trail just a bit and then gave them another 15 second 'blow' before hitting the hard climb up the ridge. I was a bit worried that Orion was looking tired, but he was the first one to want to go during the little break.
Over the top and down the ridge about a mile or so Nels and Orion got tangled up together when Nels tried to reach past the younger dog to dip some snow. That resulted in Nels getting tangled with the gangline, so I stopped and corrected that. From that point on it was a very nice, very easy run down to the swamp trail and home. I really couldn't ask for better.
Torus and Grace (L)
Capella (single S/T)
Seamus & Cassie (W)
1.5 miles. Home to trailhead and return. Temperature +13F
Max speed 12.4.
Avg speed 9.4
This was just a little fun-run to help Capella and Cassie get their head back into the game, and for Seamus to stretch his legs a bit. I ran Grace in lead in this team beside Torus. I had initially planned to leave Torus behind but he bolted the gate when I opened it for Grace and I figured since we were going very short if he wanted to run that badly I'd accommodate him.
All of the dogs behaved pretty well on hook-up and Grace was surprisingly good about not snarfing at Torus. Perhaps because she had gotten it out of her system?? In any event, this turned into a very smooth, very easy, very fast little run.