Woohoo! Wow, that was an exciting finish huh?
There's been some radio silence from us for a while as we tended to dogs and mushers but everyone from the Black Team and Red Team is now tucked up in bed with satisfied bellies, relieved muscles and plenty of time to rest.
I'll try to catch you up with what happened since the Red and Black teams arrived in Mendenltna.
Black Team - Allen was 8th into the checkpoint and was manoeuvred into a great parking spot near the exit trail by Bridgett and Ray. Once a musher is inside a checkpoint the handlers can help park the team, taking the leaders etc and helping get to their parking spots safely.
His final rest was two hours and it was meticulously planned and brilliantly executed. The checkpoint chores still need to get done (de-bootying, feeding, snacking, re-bootying, packing sled etc etc) but with a lot less time. He did even managed to enjoy the Mendeltna Creek Lodge hospitality and get a small sleep in that time. By small I mean SMALL - a few minutes but it is sleep non-the-less.
As you now know he left Scout with us here as he had a bit of a sore wrist but he is looking good now after a precautionary wrap and some massage. He will still get rest and recuperation once back at the kennel.
Allen is know for travelling light and on the final run of a race he will hurl out all surpurflous gear from his sled. The mandatory items still obviously are there which provide contingencies in case of the need to stop for a while. The other critical things included plenty of water and light calorific snacks for himself as he knew he would be working hard behind the sled - ski-poling for much of the way. He always carries food/snacks for the dogs and spare equipment in case of breakage or emergency but not much of anything else. He has enough in there to "Macguyver" most situations but not too much to weigh the team down.
The final run was a slog, with any one of the four front runners in contention. It really was not over till it was over as you saw by Ray Reddington Jnr arriving just a few minutes after Allen, Ryne Olsen from Ryno Kennel in Two Rivers, not too far behind and Nic Petit on her tail.
A quick note here about Ryne - we are all so incredibly happy for and proud of her. She and her youngsters did a phenomenal job in her rookie Copper Basin race! If you take a look at her website you will notice some familiarly in the breeding of a lot of her kennel.
Allen switched Kodiak and Chica at the end to give the team a little more drive - Chica was on top form and really showed Allen she is a main leader also! She did miss out on her "Champion Leaders" photo at the end simply because Kodiak had done such a great job for 250-odd miles and Quito was the mainstay of the last two legs. She may have been a little miffed about missing her photo op, we'll do something extra special for her tomorrow!
Red Team - When Aliy arrived into the Mendeltna checkpoint she had Scruggs and Chemo in lead. She said "They kicked butt!" She left Junior with us at Mendentna simply because she was tired. She had worked so very hard and done a phenomenal job for 250 miles, it was time to let her take it easy in the truck on the way back to Glenallen.
Aliy is also super efficient at her checkpoint routine and managed to get inside the Lodge for a bit, chowing down a vegetable and beef stew, drying her gear in front of the open fire and settling into a comfy chair for a 10 minute sleep. She readied her sled and herself for the race with Ben Harper - they had exactly the same exit time but he was parked in a different area so she managed to get to the exit trail just in front. He came home in front of her in the end but it was exciting for us to watch that competition also. Waylon and Chemo led the team into the chute - little Lionheart Waylon and his antenna ears!
Aliy said to me at the finish "You know who's a real rockstar? Biscuit. Nine year old Biscuit. What a dog!"
The dogs on both teams got snacks and a water/kibble meal at the finish line then we quickly got them into the truck so they could start the serious business of resting. Their big, main meal came later in the afternoon.
The CB300 start/finish arch; Mark secures the sleds on top of the truck
The finish line is staged at the All Paths Church in Glenallen and they put on great food and hydration/caffenation for mushers, handlers and visitors - chillis, soups, home baking and the best brownie EVER! Thanks to the team there, it really is nice to be able to come in, have a bite to eat and sit around somewhere warm and chat to everyone for a while. Aliy chose Scurggs for her leader photo, he'd done an outstanding job the whole race!
Red and Black Team - After the finish Mark hopped back into the truck to head back to Mendentna to greet Spencer and the R&Bs. He'd left Violet with Mark and Joanna in Sourdough as she had a sore shoulder but the remaining 11 dogs all looked great.
His run to Mendeltna was punctuated with another camp where we would have made them cozy beds and a warm meal and enjoyed a scenic rest. This run was too long for the yearlings to do in one go and the camp was all part of the plan. At the time of writing I haven't caught up with Mark on how things are going there, which is a good sign as if there were any concerns he would have let us know. Sounds like Spencer is having a blast, which in turn makes for a positive experience for the dogs. They are all having a grand adventure!
We are so excited to see them tomorrow, we expect them perhaps late morning, depending on how much rest Spencer feels they need in Mendeltna.
One thing I meant to tell you about the Sourdough Checkpoint: it's kind of an "old school" checkpoint - meaning, as there is no cell coverage or wifi capability the officials and handlers had to just simply wait for mushers like in the pre-tracker days: making estimates of run times, knowing who left before and after then at the last checkpoint and then trying to identify teams as they came down the in-trail by parka colour, sled bag colour or lead dogs. Some are easy to sort out, Aliy's red and black parka with big ruff are very distinctive! Of course as people arrived from Meiers lake they could update us all on what the tracker said the last time they saw it so we had a vague idea of what was happening. I guess we are just spoilt with the technology available today and thanks to all the sponsors who made it possible for the race to have them.