The Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race requires a hardy bunch of dog handlers. The dog race begins at noon on Saturday and from there the dog teams race the 300-mile course over mountains and across frozen rivers. The more competitive teams will rest their dog teams (and themselves) a total of 18 hours during the event. These rest stops are split up among the 6 checkpoints.
The handler crew will be waiting at each checkpoint for their team to either stop and rest or pass through. Hopefully the handlers will know beforehand what the team's proposed "race schedule" is, but of course, anything can happen in a dog race. The crew is critical in parking the team (very important in a race with almost 60 teams - there are no designated spots!) They will also let the musher know details about the checkpoint and the race route (where water is, no trail ahead, trail re-routed, etc.) They will watch the team as the musher sleeps and then lead the team back out onto the trail when they are ready to go. At that point, they need to clean up all of the dog's straw bedding and left over dog food. They will also take any dropped dogs from the team. Of course, then, they have to jump in the truck and make it to the next checkpoint BEFORE the musher arrives!
Ray at Bob wait for their team several years ago at Copper Basin 300
One problem is that there is no way to know the exact travel time along the race trail, so the handlers will estimate and "guessimate", to try and be ready when their team swerves around the corner and into the checkpoint. This means that a nearly constant sentinel will be standing at the entrance to the checkpoint at all times (day and night) waiting for their team. This will happen whether it is warm, cold, dark or light. The weather for the Copper basin area doesn't look too bad right now:
Luckily, we have a rugged bunch of Copper Basin Handlers!
- The Black Team will be Ray handling for Allen. Wes will be Ray's back up as a rookie CB300 handler.
- The Red Team will be Doug and Bob handling for Aliy. Doug, who is flying in directly from Florida might take the "warm shifts", while Bob who has been acclimated to Two Rivers all winter.
- The R & B Team will be Derek handling for Ryne. Derek helped on the Sheep Mountain 150 and has become a valuable SP Kennel team member.
- Wendy will be updating the website as best as possible. Phone and internet are sporadic (as is electricity) in this part of Alaska. She will try to be in communication with all of the handlers and keep an update rolling.
- The "cheering section" will be Jacob and Timber - as well as Jennifer and Bridgett. Bridgett has threatened to get on the sled runners at the last minute, but we are holding her off until next season.
If this sounds like a heck of a SP Kennel Crew.... it is! But, remember, we also have 36 fantastic dogs to add to the mix.