Aliy and team at Meiers Lake (photo credit Lidia)
BEEMER is special dog to SP Kennel. He is super talented and is sensitive so can sometimes need extra attention. Towards the end of the race he was not working at 100 percent so Aliy brought him back to the wheel position to keep eye on him.
RAMBLER started the race in lead but still has his major eating issue and it caught up with him again in this race. He is such a super talented sled dog, he gives it all he's got but when his tank is empty he runs out of steam. We are working on overcoming this problem so he can contribute even more to the team.
SCRUGGS is probably the dog who came through for Aliy in the long run. Aliy always knew he was a good dog but she is looking at him in a different light now and for this race he was her "go to" leader. He was always steady and reliable and she didn't have to worry about him one bit.
CHEMO - when you need to count on someone you can count on him! He was in lead for sections of the last push and he has the checkpoint routine down, it is obvious he is an experienced dog despite being so young.
CLYDE is just two years old but during this race he acted like a five year old. His biggest plus is he will eat anything and that keeps him positive and energised.
Chemo and Clyde
MAC was Aliy's strongest dog, he worked at 100 percent all the time. He's good at everything: he takes resting very seriously and he is a competitive racer. Towards the end of the race he'd be driving up hills and working hard. On the sections of the trail that paralleled, if a vehicle passed him he would scream and increase the pace as if to race them.
SISSY is a big time SP race dog now. She is 100 percent race dog and we're all excited about that. She ate, she slept and worked hard to the end. She was running with Mac and they worked well together when they were both in the groove.
Mac and Sissy
TUG and FANG were running together. Both couldn't finish the race due to dehydration and cramps. Aliy and handlers talked to the vets a lot to find out causes of this and we are lucky it was caught early and are now both back to normal. We couldn't figure why it was happening but we knew what what it was and it as not uncommon on this race - seems like it was a "perfect storm" of factors all coming together at once. Prior to that both had been working so hard.
IZZY gave it her all but ended up cramping in her hamstring. This happened less than a mile out of Tolsona and Izzy is not a dog to give up so Aliy carried her for the whole loop, out and back so she watched a lot of teams go by before settling for a snooze inside the sled. She saw her dad Biscuit go by with Allen. She did super well in her first real test and Aliy was happy with her. It lightened the mood of a really competitive race to have her running with her Uncle Tatfish.
WAYLON is always a cheerleader. He could have been on any of the SP teams, Aliy was glad he was on hers. He lead the team across the finish line to give the team more speed. He and Scruggs have complimentary lead skills, he has more speed and Scruggs has more focus.
TATFISH was Tatfish. He can and will do every race we ask of him. He's dependable and, along with his brother Biscuit is the oldest racing dog at the kennel. He always adds a touch of whimsy to the team.
Overall Aliy thought the checkpoints were super - each had it's own flair. Red Eagle Lodge at Chistochina had the cinnamon buns, Meiers Lake Roadhouse had an open door policy and welcomed wet, soggy mushers. The wood stove at Sourdough was much appreciated as Aliy was able to dry out her boots after more overflow on that leg. Lake Louise Lodge made her feel very welcome - they are a "high end" establishment yet they let grimy, wet mushers sleep on the floor and Tolsona Lake Resort made her the best burger she's had in a long time.
The Red team's motto for this race was "Adapt and Overcome"! Several factors contributed to this not being as smooth a race as it could have been (the harness system and the number of dogs that didn't finish the race) but Aliy was so proud that her team finished as well as it did. There were far more positives to come out of this race than negatives.
Towards the end of the race those of you who were following her tracker may have been extremely confused at why it was saying she was in to Glennallen when, in fact, she was still on the trail. The spot trackers were held in place on the sled inside a dog bootie. At Tolsona, as she was packing her sled, the tracker fell off and was gathered up with all the other used booties and put inside the truck which was then driven to the finish line. It made for some anxious moments when people would come rushing in to the Old Paths Church where the handler team was waiting to say Aliy was here!
For those that are waiting to hear the story about the harnesses - here's a video of Aliy at the finishers banquet explaining what happened (sorry about the poor sound quality).
On the morning of the race she discovered, to everyone's horror, that we had left her harnesses and gang line in the garage, back at Two Rivers. After a few minutes of us all trying to problem solve it in our heads, Aliy walked around the carpark and asked and was offered a gang line and about eight harnesses from Kristin Knight Pace and one or two each from Christine Roalofs, Amanda Gecas, Ray Reddington Jnr and Brent Sass, hence the wonderful mix and match nature of the set up. One musher told her later that he spent ages examining her line and harness set-up trying to figure out what advantage she was getting out of running some half harnesses, some cross-backed and staggered gang line! He thought she had discovered some new and innovative way of hooking up the team.