Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mae has been found - Our own challenges.

A few days ago, Newton Marshall was forced to scratch from the Iditarod after a dog on his team, a nine year old female named Mae, got loose and ran off.  Mae was found yesterday, near the starting point of the race at Willow.  Apparently she had backtracked over 200 miles, heading for home and someone she might know.  If we could but follow the details of her journey, it would likely be a story worthy of it's very own motion picture.

Mae faced plenty of challenges on her journey home, and today the Stardancers faced some challenges of our own.

Our team today consisted of Just and Rose in lead, Vladimir (yearling) and Selene in swing, Animosh (Yearling) and Seamus in team, and big ol' goofy Aumaruq (yearling) beside Nels in wheel.  We weren't alone on the trails, and a chance encounter with another team on the upper pond resulted in a bit of confusion and a tangle, but nothing that couldn't be overcome with some cooperation from the other musher, Jimmy Liebling running a team for Muzzy's Place Sleddog Kennel.

Here is how I wrote up the story in today's entry in our training journal:

This was a team in a hurry, it was everything I could do to keep the speed down during the launch and I was hard on the drag mat throughout the first mile or more. 
We had some leader issues today worth noting.  At the second pond I called for a gee and then saw another team, stopped on the trail.  I called for a haw, but Just and Rose did not respond to that well.  I ended up needing some help from the other musher to get the team lined out in the proper direction again, but once they were they went around both that team, and another that had come up behind them. 

Coming up to times square, a team passed from left to right directly in front of us.  Just appeared to take the straight ahead cue past their trail, but then tried to chase them by diving down the opposite leg of their turn off.  It took three attempts to get Just and Rose to line out straight so we could continue our run.

Then, coming off the ridge Rose and Just missed the "gee" to come back on Rod and Julie's feeder trail, so we ended up coming home via the swamp trail.

Vladimir ran really well the entire run, as did Animosh.  I didn't see any of the distracted behavior in Ani that I saw in her sister Chetan yesterday, so Animosh is still in line for a leader trail sometime next week, as is Vladimir.

Aumaruq is just a big, goofy boy who loves to run.  He did well in a leader trial a month or two ago, and today he ran like a gangbuster in wheel beside Nels. 

Even with the stops to deal with the leader issues, we had a considerably faster run than yesterday.

Here is the "musher's eye view" of our first encounter.  As you can see, it wasn't a particularly bad situation at all, just one of those training opportunities that require a bit of work to sort through.

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