If there is one soundbite from Aliy about the YQ300 it is that she "had fun and enjoyed the close competition" with Michelle Phillips. They both know each other well and have a lot of respect for each other. Of course, second place is not ideal and eight seconds is difficult to swallow but Aliy was very philosophical about it and immensely proud of her team. "They did a great job and this sets the kennel up really well for the Iditarod".
Viper and Rambler led the team for the final loop to Stepping Stone and back, she said they did fantastic! Aliy made particular mention of Rambler; he lead the entire race with confidence and reliability. He showed his toughness last year at the Iditarod and again here. Rambler is a dog that Aliy can count on 110%.
Viper (right) was slated to start the race in lead, but upon leaving the starting chute Rambler was so excited he barked and nipped at Viper (brothers!), so she moved Boondocks to Viper's place. (Rambler wouldn't dare pick on her - no one would!) So, Viper ran one spot behind the leaders until 4 hours from the finish line. At that point, he was cocky and happy to be up in front and Rambler wanted to share the heavy responsibility. Viper was the reason the race was so close. Aliy asked the team to pass Michelle's 3 miles from the finish line and Viper did it. Rambler on the other hand, liked running directly behind Michelle - as she had petted his head several times during the race. That's how CLOSE the teams were!
Dingle worked hard, as always. He is vastly experienced and takes everything in his stride and is a good foil to have around anyone less experienced as he can help them "chill out" if a new situation for them arises.
Boondocks is always awesome! Once again she was a little spitfire on the trail and is Little Miss Sassy Pants. She works so hard and has such a huge work output for such a little dog. Originally, she was upset at not making the 1,000 mile Black Team, but she was critical on the Red Team.
Chemo added another 300 mile race to his resume. He came into the season as an inexperienced youngster but is now race toughened and impressive. He ran in swing the entire race and was a key team member when it came to increasing their speed.
Ranger barked and barked, and barked and barked. What else do you need to say about Ranger? He was absolutely tuckered in the end - actually 3 miles from the end. Aliy head on passed Crispin Stuter, who was standing by his dog team, Ranger must have gotten flustered with the dogs facing in different direction and sat down. It was obvious that he had give his all and needed a ride to the finish line. Aliy loaded him and the team carried him to the finish. That extra 50 pounds did make it challenging to catch back up to Michelle.
Mac (MacDaddy) was AWESOME! Aliy was excited to have him make the team and her confidence in him was vindicated. He was strong, steady and showed her what he is really made of. Coming into this race he wasn't that experienced but he can come out it firmly in the frame for an Iditarod team.
Boris ran 177 miles. He'll recover quickly from his soreness and continue to impress. It was important to Aliy for him to get some tough race miles under his belt so he can grow in confidence. The warm weather was a detriment to this big furry fellah.
Moxie (right) was steady team player for 235 miles. Aliy decided, just minutes before leaving, to drop him in Pelly for the last leg of the race. She knew she needed everyone to be 100% for the sprint home and she wasn't sure about Moxie. He was unshaken by the drop from the team and happily walked over to the dog truck with Meghan and lifted his leg on the rear tire.
Tug is an unsung hero, she is always right there working hard and repaying the confidence Aliy has in her. She is not flashy or sassy but always delivers and this race was no exception. She is truly a good dog!
Fang is another steady, strong and understated sled dog. Aliy rates him highly and was really happy with how he performed. He is headed to Iditarod with confidence!
Bonita high-stepped her way for the entire 300 miles. She loves to run and as she ran in wheel position for the entire race Aliy could witness her enjoyment close-up. A fun loving dog with an attitude to match.