SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

CB300: Update from Handler Crew in Meiers Lake

The handler team has arrived in Meiers Lake Roadhouse having got all three mushers onto the trail from Chistochina checkpoint.

Before I describe the day’s events I understand there has been some worry and/or speculation about Quito not leading out this morning. Don’t worry – she is just fine!! Allen had been tossing up whether to start with Kodiak for days and decided this morning that, as he was starting Bib number 37 and was likely to have to pass a number of teams in a short space of time between the start and Chistochina, he wanted to see if some “youthful exuberance” would give him an advantage in chasing and passing. He and Aliy obviously think very highly of Kodiak and he wanted to give him an opportunity to prove himself. He passed the test with flying colors! Quito is still the superstar and there is no need to worry, there are still plenty of miles left in this race.

Pre-race was filled with the usual tasks of attaching numbers and GPS trackers to sleds, packing the sleds, ensuring all mandatory gear is included as well as anything that was needed along the trail. Mandatory gear includes an axe, sleeping bag, food and booties for the dogs and a cooker. Race officials checked sleds to ensure everything was present and accounted for.

Right before hooking up the teams we harness and booty the dogs. The temperatures were mild so we didn’t need to put jackets on anyone.

Spencer has his mandatory gear checked by a race official

Allen discusses the lead pairing with Scout; Aliy harnesses Biscuit while Pepe has something to say (Outlaw is uninterested)

The start at Glennallen was, as has become typical for the Copper Basin 300, a well-run machine. Parking spots were laid out logically and the volunteers hooked up each team to a “rhino” – a four wheeled mini jeep type thing that really anchors the team from behind the sled. Handlers are then able to maneuver the team across the road from the parking area to the start line with ease. Thanks to Derek for helping us, with all our teams leaving in fairly short succession it was a bit of a handling challenge.

All three SP teams looked enthusiastic leaving the chute; dogs and mushers alike!

As the final teams were leaving town it started to snow – that “fat” fluffy snow that sticks to everything. It sure was pretty though. For the next few hours the temperatures hovered in the high teens / early twenties F.

The trail from Glennallen to Chistochina follows the road for some miles so handlers and spectators are able to watch teams go by to see how they are going. We managed to miss all three of our teams but we tend not to stop anyway, preferring to get to the checkpoint to get the lay of the land before the teams arrive.

This trail crosses several creeks and rivers such as Bear Creek, the Golkana River and the Gakona River but all were reportedly dry with no open water to speak of.

At the Red Eagle Lodge at Chistochina the team parking area was laid out in a kind-of herringbone design with each “bone” holding three or four teams behind one another. These then lead out to an out trail and was very well thought-out. We parked both Allen and Aliy’s teams away from the main busy throng to ensure good sleep for the teams.

As you know by now Allen and the Black Team rolled in at 3.45pm with a run time of 4 hours, 35 minutes. As they pulled in, cheerleader Scooter was really going to town; telling all and sundry how great the team is. It probably sounded like barking and howling to most. Allen reported having a good run with most of the passes going well. There is a race rule that states that if the team behind you calls “trail”, the team in front must stop to let them go by. (The exception to this is what is called “no man’s land” which is right at the end of the race where it’s all on!).

Allen was fairly self-sufficient at the checkpoint. He got some warm dog water from the lodge to make the team their meal, but other than that, he stayed with his team the whole time. He made extra water by melting snow in his cooker, made himself a freeze-dried meal and even slept in his winter sleeping bag right next to his team. Seems they all got a great rest!

After five hours of rest and a warm, nutrient packed meal, the team was rearing to go. Allen said Kodiak did so well in the first leg that he decided to leave him in front with Scout for the start of the next leg to Meiers Lake.

Aliy and the Red Team arrived only 21 minutes behind Allen at 11.06 with a run time of exactly 5 hours. She had switched out Scruggs and Waylon for lead at some point – Waylon adds a little “attitude” when in lead. She said her run was great and everyone did well.

Aliy snacks the team after arrival into Chisto while the Black Team beds down

Aliy spent a couple hours in the checkpoint that was fiercely warm with the famous sweet rolls and other goodies on offer. When I saw her she was asleep ON TOP of the woodpile right next to the fireplace. Despite the hustle and bustle of the checkpoint she was fast asleep and enjoyed some good rest before setting on the 73-odd mile run from Chisto to Meiers Lake.

The Red Team also took 5 hours rest here although we had some difficulty keeping the team in place for the last 20 minutes. We parked Aliy behind Allen, which has advantages when the teams are resting: they are near their mates and seem to rest more comfortably. BUT when Allen’s team pulled out we need to enlist the help of Scott Smith’s handler Jeremy to help Moira stand on the sled brake and snow hook while Ray and Aliy negotiated with the team to stay put. Thanks Jeremy!

Spencer and his youthful team made the run in 5 hours, 55 minutes. They made great time in the sticky snow. He made particular mention of Violet and Chena, saying, as they are smaller they didn’t sink down into it and were superstars on the run. Everyone else did very well also and he was happy with how they coped with passing and being passed. His team was parked among many other teams at the checkpoint but they did bed down for a while and all of them ate really well. The older pros Lester, Viper, Beemer and Puppet showed them how it’s done.

The Red & Blacks left the checkpoint at 10.45pm (official time to be confirmed) after about six hours rest. A head’s up for those following Spencer’s tracker: He will be running a very conservative race plan for the youngsters and is likely to stop to camp along the way on the longer runs so don’t be alarmed if his tracker suddenly stops for a few hours. It’s all in the plan. He packed some straw with him to bed the team down and will prepare a light meal for them making it a nice, positive experience for them. Spencer himself is doing a great job!

The handler crew is going to catch some rest now before mushers start arriving and I’ll update you again once there is something to say and/or when I have internet coverage. In the meantime, Macgellan will keep his knowledgeable eye on the trackers and times to give you more insights.

It doesn’t look like I am going to be able to upload videos at this point in time so I may have to do a catch up at the end. Sorry ‘bout that but I will try to keep the photos rolling in.

- Moira


Anonymous said...

Thank you Moira for this detailed and lively update. I am very enthusiastic about Kodiak and his development and it puts a smile on my face to think about all those well cared for youngsters of SPK. Looking forward to see and hear more.!

Nessmuk said...

Nice run down of events Moira....we all love having you back!! I'm so excited for Kodiak getting the opportunity to lead in a big race like this! You go buddy!! The GPS tracker is so fun...I like watching the Teams in the elevation mode....hilly country indeed!

Lourdes, VT said...

Thank you, Moira for the great update! The SPK teams are doing their usual excellent performance!!!! Happy, well fed and rested pups and great mushers!!!
I keep thinking what is going thru the young ones minds! They must be having a blast!!! New trails, new experiences and the older dogs showing them the ropes!!!
Great strategy for Spencer and the mostly young team!!!
SPK rocks!!!!

Cal OSME said...

Rest well yourself, Moira and thanks for this wonderful update. You are a superstar on this team, too!

Charlene & Lisa
Erie, PA

A-town's Becky said...

Awesome update Moira, so happy you can be there to help the handlers.
Looks like Spencer is getting in some camping and the Red Team and Black teams are recharging at Meier's Lake, zzzzz good dawgs.

Lisa B said...

Moira after 3 years you should know by now that you don't have to apologize about the videos - we DogLog fans completely understand the challenge of rural Alaska and internet connectivity during races. Besides you have a few more important things on your plate like chasing the race via dog truck and finding rest spots at checkpoints for the teams! This update is awesome as is and really really really appreciated. Thanks so much for the effort. Great to hear the teams are doing so well. Go Dogs! Go Allen, Aliy & Spencer!

Margaret said...

Your reports come alive for those who follow the SP Kennel Teams, 2 and 4 legs - your "voice" adds something special!!!

Thanks for everything, handlers and support team!!!

Go Red, Go Black, Go R&B!!!

Heidi Phillips said...

I second Lisa B's comment. A huge shout out to Moira, Ray and SPK's other handlers. Thanks from this fan for all the hard work you guys put in to help Allen, Aliy, Spencer and the dogs. I am sure I can say with complete confidence that the mushers can totally focus on the race and the dogs knowing that you guys have everything else handled.

You guys Rock!!


Linda Toth said...

Moira, so glad you and Macgellan are keeping us tied into the race. It's like being there without being there.

Anonymous said...

GREAT JOB! Ditto of all of the above comments. you all rock it! Hugs to Moira, thanks to Meghan for staying home to make everyone put 100% into race with no worries about home! I noticed Different Boots on Aliy! what kind are they?
Go SP Kennel!
Padee Santa Rosa CA

John Bronlund said...

Hey Moira. Awesome post. Loving it!!! Cheers Susie😉

marilyn cozzens said...

Thanks so much Moira for such a detailed report. Great having you back. Go SPK teams.

Moosekahl said...

Great to have u back Moira!

Sherry Egbert said...

Thank you so much! I am EXTREMELY greatful for the updates! Spencer is my Son! Thanks also for the comment about not getting concerned if his tracker stops. I know there is a very well thought out plan for his team, but it does concern ME when he stops for a while. Although, I know he's digging it and is making sure he has happy wagging tails all the way! You're the best!