Monday, January 23, 2012

Eagle Lake 100 Mile Sled Dog Race

When entering this race back in September we had thought that our team would of been much further a long in training by the time we reached the starting line. However that was not the case, due to icey training conditions a couple weeks prior the race, and lack of snow throughout the whole month of December. We were very fortunate for the Dionne's (thanks again guys!!!) to allow us to come and train with them for a weekend on sled, so we could see how our team was doing, in order to make the decision as to run the race, or sit this one out. Our longest run prior the race was only a 35 mile run, and that was on the fourwheeler. After a lot of hemming and hawing we decided, why not and just give it a shot! See how things go, and just take things step by step! Pretty much let the team decide this one! So Friday morning prior to the race, we packed the truck up, loaded the dogs, and off we went up to Eagle Lake Maine.

At the drivers meeting we were assured trails were in great shape, and they weren't lying one bit! Trails were beautiful despite the lack of snow we have had this crazy and bizarre winter! Looking at the weather for Saturdays 100 mile run, was a little worrisome for me, where they were suspecting 36 below zero with windchill. I have run dogs several times at 20 16 degrees more couldn't be that bad right!? Well all that worrying was pointless, because believe it or not I was actually sweating on the way home during that cold night!

So on to the details of the race! Well I finally picked my team, I think by Friday night. Team was going to be Kaleeta and Watt in lead, Roland and Bones, Kyat and Marocca behind them, Wallace and (Yoda), Rimbey and Lumos in wheel. Yoda had an infection come on quickly Thursday, so we decided to let him sit this race out and allow him for a quick recovery. So to replace Yoda, was a hard choice, but now after the race, I know I made the right decision, it was my yearling Waylon. So that left behind Dixie, Cree, Phoenix, Aryan, Yoda and Rosa. All for numerous other reasons.

Finally it came time to hook up, after hanging out for 3 hours at the race site getting the sled ready and dogs ready, and wait around wait around... We have all 10 dogs hooked up, and several handlers to get me up to the starting line, which was quite a jaunt away. I grabbed Jaye's handler Shane, and had him on the sled with me to help hold the team back, here I was thinking it's only 10 dogs, it won't be that bad. Well they were so strong that all the helpers were having such a hard time hanging on to them, and trying to hold them back, while Shane and I were both on both brakes on the sled. By the time I got to the starting line, 3 people had let go of the team. We got there with one minute to spare, Watt slipped his collar, so Mom had to run up and get his wiggly head in the collar. Meanwhile Shane is telling me how strong my team was, and how impressed he was. At that point my knees just started shaking uncontrollably! Nerves were starting to kick in! Before I could blink an eye, team was shooting out of the starting chute like a rocket, and poor Ken, Holly and Amy Dionne's Dad, almost got ran over, but he jumped in the snowbank with style!

The first 50 miles was a very nice run, like I said before, trail was beautiful! Some plowed roads, that kept you on your toes, but all in all a very good run to the half way point. We made it there before dark, and in 5 and half hours of run time! Very nice run! Once arriving at the checkpoint and getting the team parked, I must announce this because it just amazes me! After running 50 miles, you would think one would be tired...but while we were all trying to park the team, and get everyone situated, Rimbey chewed his neckline. I guess he just never gets tired. I was a little worried about my yearling Waylon who was on the team. I wanted to make sure he was going to eat and rest well. Which he did perfectly! We had 4 hours of rest time, and was set to leave at 8:54 P.M. I went and checked on the team a few times to make sure all were resting well, and were comfortable in their warm jackets mom made them, and their fluffy straw beds! Which they were! About 10 minutes to 8 o clock, I set out to bootie and get things packed up for our departure. Finally the crew came to get me, to help me maneuver around an apple tree and two cabins. Once around all of that 4 of the handlers let go, and left two handlers bringing me up to the starting line on a plowed road. Now knowing how hard of a time we had bringing my team to the starting line was in the beginning, you really think just two handlers was going to hold my team on a plowed road? Definitely not! We ended up leaving a few seconds earlier than scheduled due to no one being able to hold my team! And off we went. The run back was also very good, dogs were all doing great! We finished at 2:52 A.M. With a time back at 5 hours and 57 minutes. I was shocked we did both runs under 6 hours! We came in 11th out of 11 finishers, but 13 teams were entered. So we finished our 2nd 100 mile race! And I am very proud of the team! I just want to thank everyone that has helped me a long the way in one way or another, we couldn't of done this without your support and knowledge! So thank you!

~Fort Illio~