It is just under a week before we pack up three teams for the Copper Basin 300 and there is still work to be done…
We're working on drop bags for each checkpoint for each team. This involves making a detailed list of everything to go into the bags: for the dogs we pack snacks and kibble, vet-kits (including wrist wraps, Algyval, anti-ulcer medications), extra dog jackets, fleece throws, booties and harnesses. For the humans we include snacks and meals, basic first aid and comfort packs (hand warmers, Kleenexes, Chapstick and dry socks), extra clothing and tool kits. We also need to pack fuel for dog food cookers, spare sled parts and runner plastics.
L-R: Allen packs his CB300 Bags; Aliy looks over her Checkpoint supplies.
Each musher also has to think about what will go with them in their sled. Allen is known for traveling light, Aliy not too heavy but not too light, and because Meghan will be on a different schedule and will likely camp between checkpoints she will need to take more in her sled to ensure she is well equipped. Each sled needs a 'once over' and all bolts and nuts tighten and ready to go. We wouldn't want one of our sleds falling apart on the race trail!
L-R: Meghan builds her dog sled; Meghan's first ride on the sled she built.
We also pack the dog trucks for the handlers. The handlers' job at checkpoints is to not only help park teams and support the musher but also clean up after the team has left the checkpoint. We need trash bags, rakes and a sled in order to clean up the straw beds from the team and any gear that the musher has left behind. Handlers will take any dogs from their musher if he or she does not want the dog to continue the race. Mushers are not allowed dog substitutions, so if any dog is left with a handler (the musher lingo is 'dropped from the team'), then the musher will continue with one less team mate. There are Veterinarians stationed at the race checkpoints in case a dog needs medical care. There no human doctor however. That would require a trip to Anchorage or Fairbanks.