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.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Copper Basin 300 Overview

Copper Basin 300 was an important race for SP Kennel.

Honestly, not all of us are happy with the outcome - you can't blame a past champion for looking for his next win! (As we have always said in the past, in order to win a competitive race, a team must progress smoothly and with out issue from start to finish.)

But, after saying all of that...... SP Kennel, as a whole, had several successes, learned quite a bit and made some huge advances during the race. Here is the 2011 Copper Basin 300 recap:
  • 9th Place - Aliy and the Red Team had a virtually flawless race. The team managed to avoid most of the trail hazards and stay on the correct route. The 2 year old rookie "Honkey Tonk" litter mates (Scruggs, Willie, Waylon, Boondocks) outperformed expectations. The 3 year old brothers, Beemer and Rambler were confidant and lead much of the race while their sister, Malibu, was flawless. Race veterans (Spot, Bonita, Roy, Dingle) were solid through out the 300 miles. Moonpie got a sore foot (perhaps a bruise from a trail hazard) and he wanted to leave with the team after Tolsona, but Aliy made the final call and cut him from the roster.
  • 16th Place - Allen and the Black Team started number 50 out of 51 teams. They passed 27 teams in the first 62 miles. This first leg might have used a little too much of their reserve energy because their speed dropped the next leg. Then, the unthinkable happened, and the team took a wrong turn. The extra miles and the overall heartache of such a mistake took a toll on both musher and dogs. Much of the upbeat and positive energy was gone. Butterscotch and Skittles were dropped because they were tired. Ranger, Kit Kat, Snickers, Tatfish and Rose worked like troopers to the finish line. The five outstanding dogs on the team were: Olivia, Quito, Scout, Viper and Biscuit- it seemed that nothing could phase them.
  • 30th Place - Bridgett and the Red & Black Team had an "adventure". Both musher and dogs had to show extreme patience, fortitude and determination. Bridgett and the dogs got wet feet, wet bodies and wet gear several times during the 300 miles. In below zero temperatures, they needed to dry themselves at camp fires, change clothes, and persevere. Half way through the race, the team crashed into a hidden log and destroyed the sled. This required a sled change. The R&B dogs were chosen because many were older experienced racers who could use a nice, easy race with plenty of rest. So, the "Older Professional Dogs" (Cha Cha, Bullet, Teddy, Homebrew) and the "Veteran Racers" (Kipper, Nacho, Chica, Honda, Betsy) combined with three inexperienced dogs (Hunter, Tug and Lester) were supposed to have an easy 300 mile jaunt. They didn't. Lester tripped in the trail and got a sore wrist and was therefore dropped, Honda got cold feet from the water crossings and was dropped and Homebrew was tired only 20 miles from the finish, so he was dropped. In the end, the team pulled through and crossed the finish line. It was certainly a great effort!


NCL said...

Success on many levels - thanks for providing us these details!

Anonymous said...

Hi Aliy,
Thanks for the recap. I could not help but feel disappointed for Allen and Bridgett during the race, as I know they both wanted to do better, but you can only do what you can do. I can see how in a short race like this that to win you have to have an almost flawless race. When you realized you were having a good race, did you change tactics? Are you ever influenced by what other mushers choose to do during a race?

Do you change your training tactics after evaluating the races or is it more about evaluating what the dogs can handle? In retrospect, would any of you have decided to run this race differently --- ex. rest less/more, run faster/slower, etc.?

I am in awe of you mushers. Of course the dogs are wonderful and I love watching them run, but mushers are responsible for making sure everyone survives in very harsh conditions. It's amazing for me to think that dogs can sleep out there in subzero temperatures.
I showed pictures of a few of your dogs to my science class. They really liked Cha Cha.

I was wondering if you are going to be able to mount a camera on your sled like you did last year.

Thanks for sharing your lives with us. Your world is fascinating.

weedabble said...

Reading today's overview brings many feelings to me.
I can clearly "feel" the disappointment for Allen. It must be so tough when you know that you can win this race, and in fact have several times.
I was worried for Bridgett, and can't even imagine having to try to "dry out" in those conditions. I admire her always positive and upbeat attitude....if I were a sick patient, I would want Bridget to be the nurse caring for me because she clearly demonstrates that she a very kind and caring person.
And, once again, Aliy demonstrated how she loves and cares for her dogs above all else.
I am so proud of the whole team...mushers and dogs... who constantly amaze me with what you are able to accomplish in such extreme conditions. You have all set the bar very high, and it is very exciting and educational (on many levels) to follow your adventures.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your lives and your adventures!.

Aliy said...

When you realize that you are having a "good race" it just gets better - because you feel better, your dogs pick up on that and they feel better, move faster, etc, etc. And likewise, when your race is "in the dumps".
As far as changing your strategy mid race, a racer will sometimes do that. This is called "pressing the team" and we will do that in Iditarod or the Yukon Quest. In the CB 300, there is little you can do to change your strategy since every team must rests a minimum of 18 hours. Jake, the winner, rested 18 hours and so did Ken Anderson, who came in 10th place. It is all in when you give that rest and how your team responds to it.
I took 4 hours at mile 60 (Chistochina) then 8 hours (plus my 2 hour starting time differential) at mile 150 (Tolsona). At that point, I had rested my dog team an equal number of hours that the had run. They were performing so well with this even ratio that I continued that pattern by giving them 2 hours at mile 180 (Wolverine). There were two checkpoints left to spend my last 4 hours - mile 240 and mile 280. I choose mile 240 (Sourdough).
I had this strategy laid out before the race began.

mom in pa said...

It was fun getting the almost "constant" updates from the trail. Kudos to Kaz for that. Your analysis made everything so clear in showing the perseverance needed when you are cold, tired, wet, with broken equipment. It certainly was good preparation for the next one... how many kennels with less than 100 dogs can run three teams as well as the three of you did! Amazing trio in my book...thanks for the "ride"!