Hi folks, we're back! Meghan and I arrived back at the kennel earlier this evening after a marathon stay at Mile 101 Checkpoint. I have video of both the Black and the Red Teams and I will edit that probably tomorrow but for now I'll give you a quick update and share some pictures with you.
We arrived into Mile 101 checkpoint thinking we had plenty of time to spare and perhaps we might even be able to catch an hour of sleep, but as handlers our first job at the checkpoint is to "get the lay of the land" - to find out where our musher's drop bags are, where they can get water to make the dogs' meals, methanol for their cookers and where the musher can sleep and eat. As we were doing that one of the volunteers at the checkpoint casually remarked "So, we're expecting Allen in about an hour…" We were NOT expecting that so we flagged the idea of a sleep and waited around up at the arrival point for him. There is nothing worse than the handler missing the arrival of his musher so we weren't going to risk falling asleep!
L-R: Mile 101 checkpoint; trail report to Central
The team arrived looking perky. Meghan swiftly got them parked in their designated parking area and Allen set about doing his arrival chores quickly and efficiently. He had planned to take his mandatory rest plus time differential (the extra time to make up for the staggered start) plus a bit extra to have about five hours rest. By doing his chores quickly he was able to eat pretty big meal of bacon and eggs (cooked by the lovely ladies in the checkpoint kitchen Georgann and Kelly) and get a good long rest himself. By "long" I actually mean about two hours but that is long in this sense.
Allen said the trail from Two Rivers was about as expected and it got a little wet about five miles from 101. We had joked prior to the race that Allen should pick Tig (the labrador) to lead the team to 101 as it was expected there would be some open water and overflow - he said that the team must have channelled Tig through those sections as they didn't miss a beat and ran straight through it! He remarked, yet again, how this is a team of real professionals who just "get it done".
All the dogs were eating well, had rested well and everyone was looking good. As he was doing his "exit chores" including bootie-ing the team they were all still trying to catch some last moments of sleep - to anyone watching it might seem as if they were so very tired and not ready to go when, in fact, they all just know to take their rest time very seriously. Even Clyde who is the youngest on the team was still snuggled in to Schmoe as Allen was putting his boots on. As soon as Allen moved them off the straw, however, and lined them up ready to leave the checkpoint they put their game faces on. Schmoe has taken the mantle as the team cheerleader and was roaring his head off ready to leave. You will see this in some video I caught of the team leaving 101 - I'll try to post that tomorrow.
Allen left the checkpoint excited to get moving and head up over Eagle Summit at sunrise. He's still running with Quito and Scruggs in lead and all 14 dogs in harness.
L-R: Allen tucks into some bacon and eggs; the team get ready to leave under the rising sun