In the truck on the way home from Glennallen I asked Allen about his team.
Lead dogs Kodiak and Commando - These are two of the best leaders that we have, among many that have gone before. I would put either of these two in lead in any race at any time. They both loped for the whole race and are a well matched pair. I couldn’t ask for any more out of those two.
Brother and sister Junior and Dutch ran in swing. They are two more excellent leaders, and could have been in lead at any time during the race. (I may say that about a lot about many dogs on this team, we have that many good leaders). This pair were energetic and happy.
Then came Mismo and Izzy - the two floppy eared goony dogs and another brother and sister combo. Mismo is one of the best dogs on the team because you can put him in any position, in lead, in team, even in single lead and he will know where to go when there’s no trail. When the going gets slow, like it did in this race for the final leg, he was pulling even harder when in lead. Izzy worked really well with Mismo when in lead they kept grinding away, even when we had to carry dogs in the bag.
Rodney and Champ - Rodney, tried so hard for so long that just near the end 5-6 miles he ran out of steam. Champ is talented and driven and his line is always tight. He runs very much like his Mother Nutmeg. These two will be main dogs very soon. It is easy to see that by how much energy they have, how much they like to eat and there was not a time when I got ready to go that they weren’t jumping ready to go. They had a few mental hurdles to get over as this was the longest and hardest race of their career but they got through it. It is exciting to see these traits in such youngsters.
Tinder and Daisy came next. Daisy likes left side and is almost obnoxious about it and pushes the other dog into the snow if they are on the left. Daisy hasn’t had much race experience as she missed the Iditarod last year but she is such high energy and when the going gets tough she bows her back and puts her nose to the ground pulling hard. This was her hardest race and she will be better for it.
Tinder is getting more and more more like his father Nacho. He has a half-lope gait and picks his legs up pretty high. We had no issues at all until I got the team up early in Mendeltna to stretch them out and noticed him favouring his leg. The vet said it was a good catch as there was no sign of it coming in to the checkpoint as he was warmed up. He was doing a fantastic job up until then.
Felix and Chipper ran in wheel. I like seeing Felix because its just like running Biscuit. He has the same gait and has filled out more as he has gotten older. Biscuit was best wheel/team dog we ever had so Felix is heading down the same trail.
Chipper is a fireball, just because she weighs 34 pounds don't let that fool you. She has more attitude than any 70 pounder. She pulled all the way to Tolsona but when I picked her leg up to put booties on to leave she squeaked. Her tricep was sore. We missed her in the last couple of legs.
I believe we had a winning team however musher judgement on how we ran the race was in error. In this race if you make one judgement error there is little chance to make a significant correction. In other years we ran a similar plan and won but in these conditions it was not appropriate to do. We paid for that error in the last 60 miles. The dogs are top notch and they wanted to win!
We all learned something from this. These dogs were as good as we've ever had and we need to help them achieve greatness.