When Mark said goodbye to the Spencer and team in Mendeltna he said that Spencer was wired and the team looked great. They were well rested and raring to get back on the trail.
We eagerly watched the tracker throughout the morning, each time altering our finish time estimation earlier and earlier. It was so exciting to see them loping down the finish chute.
(Above) The team comes down the finish chute with the Alaska Range behind; (Below) Spencer checks in while Chena gives her critique on her team mates
As a matter of course, the veterinarians always thoroughly check out a dog that comes in that way and they were happy she was well.
The vets are also always eyeballing and physically checking out dogs as they come into each checkpoint so you know they are on hand should there be any issues.
We gave the team a kibble and meaty water mix at the finish line (except Spencer, he didn't fancy that) and congratulated each one. As I bent over to give Nomex a kiss he licked me on the nose and gave me a look to say "did you see what I just did?". Commando started barking, telling everyone he is the bomb! Torch and Tinder decided they wanted their food off the ground rather than out of the dish as it tastes so much better that way. Chena wolfed down some moose snacks. Driver was still alert and eager for a hug whereas Sandy is the "no drama queen" and just took it all in her stride. Remember she is a Copper Basin veteran, having finished the race last year with Meghan. Lester, Beemer and Viper are as they always are: calm and satisfied at a job well done. Puppet seemed to enjoy being around the youngsters.
They're all having a sleep now while we sort out the bags and bags of "stuff". Of course everything that was brought down in the drop bags has to go back (except for the food consumed), but when it came down it was very nicely packed. When a team leaves its parking spot at a checkpoint, the handler crew rakes up the straw and throws all the gear back in the truck, but we don't have time to nicely pack it all back up so consequently everything is everywhere. We are going to sort that out now. Booties here, clothing there, dog jackets somewhere else...
The banquet and prize giving is later this evening back at Mendeltna then we hit the trail for home.
There is still a lot of reporting to come. I will have wrap-ups from each team as well as all the video to edit so keep watching for the next week or two as I get that up.