SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

CB300: Red & Black Team Wrap-up

Let's just dip back into the Copper Basin 300 for a minute as Chris gives his dog by dog wrap up of their race.


Photo Julien Schroder - Arctic-mood.com

Scout led the charge for most of the race. He's nine years old but he hasn't let anything slow him down. He is smart, strong, dedicated and always ready to go.

Woody led for a good portion of the race; he is very strong, very motivated. I have a really close relationship with him after working on the glacier and he definitely held up his end as my number one dog.

Tried and true Olivia rotated through lead also. She hasn't let three litters of puppies slow her down one little bit. (Photo left: Katie Hope)

Scruggs is the toughest dog I know. He was a really important part of the front end of my team, motivating all the younger dogs as we marched through deep punchy snow.

Chena's my girl! Whenever we aren't moving she looks contemplative, morose and not really all that excited but as soon as we start moving she gets a big smile on her face and doesn't let up. She also rotated through lead.


Out of the starting chute

I was so excited to have Nelson as a last minute addition to my team after Aliy took Scooter for her team. He has so much energy and experience and just loves to run.

Five made a really strong showing in his first major race. He was always looking at me wondering if we were going to keep going and I would always tell him 'yes' so he would put his head down and he would pull up the next hill.

If there is one word to describe Ginger (right) it is smooth. She has such an effortless gait and is always tight on the tugline no matter what.

Ernie ran wheel for the entire race which is not an easy position but he did an amazing job. While he isn't as big as his brothers he definitely makes up for it with strength and enthusiasm.

Outlaw was my other wheel dog and he was impressive. He pulled his heart out the entire race; didn't even think about letting the line go slack. I don't think I could have made it as far as I could without him.


Out of Meiers Lake Lodge checkpoint

Hotshot has improved by leaps and bounds this season. He is incredibly strong and while he is not the fastest dog he is always ready to pull up a hill, get me out of a rut or put his head down and keep driving forward.

Cayenne kept trying even when she got in over her head. She made it to the third checkpoint and although she wasn't always pulling she never dragged the team down or thought about quitting.

This race was one of the hardest things I've ever done and scratching was even harder than running the 220 miles beforehand. The trail was incredibly difficult and some of my younger dogs were working harder than they have ever had to work before and I finally decided that it would be better for them to end early than try to drag them to the finish line.

Thanks Wes for being a great handler and to all the volunteers and organizers who helped make the race a reality.

10 comments:

Barb, CO said...

Thank you Chris for taking such good care of all our dogs and us out on the worrying end of the trail. You did all the right things at the right time and we are grateful. This is a great wrap up of this outstanding team and musher.

Dawn Engler said...

Hey Chris! You had an awesome run and you let the dogs tell you what they could and couldn't handle. That is a winning management style. Congrats for coming out on the flip side safe, happy & healthy. Be proud!
(Secretly nervous to hear now how Decaf's first race went...biting nails)

Cindy Schaus said...

Awesome wrap-up. Such a great picture of Scout & Woody in lead, as well as a great pic of Chris & Olivia. Tough race for the young ones but it sounds like, with Chris's encouragement and the older dogs encouragement, they did well and gained confidence. Go SPKennel!

Anonymous said...

Chris, Thank you for taking this team and for being a great mentor to these dogs! As far as scratching, I honor whatever decisions you make. No second-guessing here.

Heidi Phillips said...

Great job Chris and dawgs! Proud of all the vets and rookies but especially Woody. Hang in there buddy, hopefully more racing to come. Please pass on congratulatory dog pats, rubs, and an enthusiastic high five to Chris!!
Cheers,
Heidi

Nessmuk said...

Thanks for the dog by dog run down! Super excited about youngsters Hotshot, Cayenne, Chena, Five, Ginger and Ernie...sounds like they did fantastic! Also good to see Woody getting the race experiance....Summer Camp did him good! Its got to be tough deciding to scratch....but its never a bad decision if its done for the right reasons....and there is no shame in scratching to assure those young pups end a race on a positive note! Well done Chris!

Sunny said...

Way to go, Chris! Good job! You obviously know the dogs and know a lot about how to run them and you obviously care for them. It was a test for them and even better that you ended it before it became a depressing slog. The CB300 isn't called the toughest 300 miles for nothing. I am - as always - impressed by SPK. The goal is always the health and happiness of the dogs. Sometimes this means a #1 placing in a race. Sometimes this means a placing farther back. Sometimes this means scratching. Whatever. The 2-leggeds put the 4-leggeds first. As it should be. But sometimes it's hard to swallow. You did good. Remember when Five was just a newborn? It wasn't that long ago. Kudos to all of you.

Anonymous said...

That was SOME RACE!!!

What a wonderful and thorough report - thanks so much Chris (and Aliy)!!!

Best always,

Margaret

Anonymous said...

Chris - Thank you for your thoughts on each dog. I am so glad that you and Woody are such good buddies now and that he has matured into a fine sled dog. I am so sorry that you and the team weren't able to complete the race, but it sounds awfully tough and cold. You did a great job in giving the youngsters more experience and taking good care of them. Congratulations on your TR100 race!

Val

babs said...

Chris, congrats to you & the team! as for scratching, I find that a musher who decides to scratch is forward thinking as opposed one who waits for the dogs to make the decision for him. good job building trust with the dogs! looking forward to following you in more races!