As you can imagine, Allen is super happy with his team and their performance. I asked him to give his thoughts about each of his team mates.
Chica was the strongest dog in the team, she was Allen's MVP! He thought about putting her in lead many times but wanted to keep Kodiak there to give him an opportunity. She pulled hard from start to finish and she always takes her rest seriously. Anyone watching would think she doesn't want to go as she stays curled up resting until Allen calls "Ready?" then she leaps up and gets down to business. After Kodiak started to tire Chica took her position and brought the team home.
Chica and Quito curl up together at Meiers Lake checkpoint
Quito was the rockstar she has always has been. She was still loping at the end, especially once Chica was up there with her. They work so well together and even as the oldest dogs in the team at eight years old they shone! He said he knew going into the race that they weren't as fast as the young ones coming up but they are tough, knowledgeable and know how to win. That turned out to be hugely important in the last leg.
Scout was in lead until Sourdough. He's a great leader; he charged out from the start and was in lead for half the race. He started to get a sore wrist coming into Mendeltna and after some rest it started to swell so Scout got to do the final leg in the truck with us.
Izzy already is a rock star! She is fast, steady and you can tell she has really matured into an adult dog this year. She will be on the main team for a long time to come, all going according to plan.
Olivia is one of our best dogs and coming into Meiers Lake Allen knew there was something going on but could find nothing specific. He had vet check her out and they found a slightly sore wrist that he wrapped at the checkpoint (sometimes a precautionary wrap for a few hours can ease the soreness). Unfortunately soon after leaving Meiers Lake she stepped awkwardly and hurt her triceps so Allen carried her in the sled to avoid seriously injuring her. There are still a couple more important races this season that she needs to be fit for!
Schmoe-dog was one Allen's two cheerleading dogs. He's a veteran racer and is steady and strong. When they were going up the steepest hills he was barking his head off and getting all the other dogs excited. He was definitely an asset to the team.
Scooter ran next to Schmoe the whole time and was the other cheerleader. They feed off each others' excitement. If Allen stopped the team for even just 10 seconds to adjust something, she was 'going ape' to get going again. It was hard to control her in checkpoints because she always wanted to go - you can't beat enthusiasm!
Willie was very much a part of why the team had speed. He is always there, always steady and always willing to go. He's been on the main team for quite a few years. He has a good attitude, eats well and is happy ALL THE TIME.
Nelson is a young and upcoming and he has done no significant races before this one. He learned a LOT and was contributed a lot to the team until last checkpoint. We think he has a touch of ADD and it always shows, until the last 60 miles when he was overtaken by inexperience. This experience will put him in contention for the main team from now on.
As an aside, Allen gets a kick out of running Willie and Nelson together - "Come on Willie Nelson!"
Felix is his father's son! Biscuit has been on the main team forever but is now 9 years old so time to pass the baton. Allen even called him Biscuit numerous times because he looks, acts and runs just like him. Biscuit has been our best team dog throughout his 9 years and his son is following in his footsteps.
Sissy ran in wheel for the whole race. After finishing the tough Iditarod with Aliy last year you could tell it had benefitted her a lot in terms of hardiness and experience. She never got tired and was always loping. She was another reason for the team's speed.
Allen was asked prior to the race about the current snow conditions and he said that both he and Aliy are so skewed now due to 2014 Iditarod so "if there's white on the ground, we're good to go". There were parts of the trail that were groomed like a sprint trail then there was some as a mogully as a olympic downhill mogul course. There were short sections of sugary snow, such as leaving Meiers lake going up off the river, making it a slog but in the Copper Basin you expect wilderness trails so none of the trails were surprising. Jamey Kemp, the trail boss, and his team did a great job once again.
Allen wants to thank his super handler team of Ray and Moira backed up by Mark, Bridgett, Scotty and Joanna. As Eric Lutz, the Race Manager, said in his wrap up speech - it's not just the team with the best musher and dogs but a good team of handlers can make or break the race!
Thanks also to all the Copper Basic board and all the volunteers that worked tirelessly to put on an excellent race. There was over 100 people involved, giving up their own time to help. Thank you!