2002-2003 race season
First dog sled race of the year: West Yellowstone,
well... I just got back from the first big race of the year...
West Yellowstone, Montana. I came in third out of 20 teams the first day
in the 6 dog/10 mile race with a time of 39 minutes 51 seconds (in other
words, averaging about 15 mph / under 4 minutes per mile) ....54 seconds
behind the leader, 21 seconds behind 2nd place. Forth place was 2 minutes
6 seconds behind me.
I was running five, 1 year 8 month old dogs with one 7 year old lead dog
to help make sure we got through.... she wasn't really pulling anything,
just trying to keep up, but I needed an experienced dog with my new yearling
leader. This was all the yearlings first race ever, and with all the 12
dog teams, there were literally several hundred dogs at the race. Basically
this race was just to really to get the core of my team into a race and
have a positive experience, so placing was just an added bonus.
Anyway, we passed about 9 teams from behind on the first day (the trail
was exceptionally fast and hard because of a lack of snow)....and that
was a pretty big deal.... my pups really hadn't had the opportunity to
run with other teams, and, up to that point, had only begun to make it
through head on passes with out a tangle.... chasing and catching is easy....
but slowly passing from behind is difficult when the dogs think the idea
is to 'catch' the other team, not catch and *pass* the other team. Anyway,
we caught a lot of teams and then pulled away from them strong.
The second day, I came in 2nd, but unfortunately I didn't
do well enough to get second overall, missing overall 2nd place by 25
seconds over the 20 cumulative mile race. The second day was much cooler....
about 4 degrees F at the start. The second day the first three teams were
so fast, we past the last 3 teams that we leaving the start, head on,
which wasn't supposed to happen, but pretty intense.
2nd sled dog race of the year: Leadville, CO
my dogs swept them 2 days in a row in Colorado! 10 dogs
15 miles. It was cold the first day (-4 degrees F) and bright blue sky.
The trail had been groomed the night before and had set up hard and fast.
My dogs exploded... we passed four 10 dog teams from behind and 2 head
on... we passed eight or nine 6 dog teams head on as well. The coolest
was a half mile from the finish, I came up behind two 10 dog teams....
one was chasing the other and had finally got along the side of the other
team but stalled, so the teams were running side by side. All of a sudden,
I call up my dogs to pass and they surged ahead and blew through, right
up the middle.... 30 dogs coming into the final straight away within sight
if the finish line! And then I called the dogs up again, and we just left
The second day was on a different trail. A bunch of 6 doggers went out
in front of me, one minute apart, then 5 min between them and us... I
went out in first of the 10 dog teams... passed maybe three 6 dog teams
before the turn around and then another 3 on the way home, plus seven
10 dog teams head on, one of which I passed going down a mountain full
on the drag but still flying.... it was Clint Hallam, behind me in second
place... so I knew how far away he was from me, which was a pretty cool
feeling because I knew all I had to do was keep my team together and have
a clean run home, and it was mine. Granted is wasn't as big a race as
West Yellowstone, but if anybody had a faster team, they should have shown
3rd sled dog race of the season: Steamboat, CO
well, I just got back from race number three.... 3rd place.
Not bad, but not great... it was supposed to be 10 dog 18 miles but then
they decided to add an extension loop which bumped it to 24 miles, which
we really weren't ready for... then it snowed 8 inches and the groomer
was broken, so we went out on a loose trail, which didn't help me any.
And it was steep as well.... GPS said 1800' vertical, and at 9000' elevation,
that is a pretty serious climb. Plus it was hot, in the 20s-30s F, which
was hot for both the dogs and me (who was trying to run up the mountains
in full gear behind the dogs.) Anyway, we got schooled by the two distance
mushers I beat in race #2...Clint Hallam, the #1 musher did it in 1h 43min,
#2 Ray Gordon @ 1h 51 min, and me @ 2h 7 minutes 25min off pace, which
was pretty lousy. The next day, it snowed another 4-6 inches and the groomer
was still broken, and it got a little sunny.... I drove in a T-shirt and
gloves. My dogs ran faster than the first day and the other 2 were were
slower, but they both still beat me again, so I ended up staying in 3rd...
or the guy who lost to the guy who lost. but, hey, that's racing.
4th sled dog race of the season: Laramie, Wyoming
...a 2 day sweep and a blue ribbon for me and the dogs this
weekend out in Laramie, WY:) 10 dogs, 18 miles, 2 days in a row... first
day's time was 1 hour 7 minutes... which was about 10 minutes faster than
#2, Dawn Breedlove, a known musher who came all the way from Minnesota.
She told me that night at the bar that she hadn't been passed in 4 years
of racing.... we left her stunned, and behind, 9 miles out ...and she
never saw us again:)
Unlike race #3, last weekend, the trail wasn't mountainous even though
we were around 9000'.... hilly, yes, but no massive mountains. And no
deep snow either... the trail was hard and fast.... and my dogs just ate
it up. If everything was against me last weekend, everything was in our
favor this weekend. As far as the next race, there is a 10 dog, 25 mile
(x 2 days) next weekend in Dubois, WY, just North of the Grand Tetons.
It wasn't on our schedule this season, but it wouldn't be bad to do....
a whole bunch of other drivers than on the circuit I've been running.
The trail would be more like the Steamboat race, but since my dogs have
seen that type of trail already, they are much better prepared mentally
and physically for that type of run. But honestly I could use a weekend
off... it is exhausting to run these and then drive 8 hours back home...
then unload and unpack... basically it is 4 days of constant work, up
late and waking early.... plus the stress of racing just uses me up.
The next race on my calendar is 2 weeks from now at Glenwood
Springs... 22 miles and a 1500' mountain pass that you need to go up and
over, turn around and go back up and over again. Then the following weekend
is a race in Ashton, Idaho which is the oldest race in the lower 48. 8
dogs, 30 miles (x2days) which I wasn't planning on running but supposedly
it is the biggest race of the year.... you run right down main street
with a huge Iditarod size crowd. here is their site:
So the thing to do would be to race every weekend... or take next weekend
off and just do some long training runs.
5th sled dog race of the season: Glenwood Springs,
well, even without Gypsy Dog (injured), and me sick with
food poisoning, we set a new track record in the Glenwood Springs, CO
'Defiance Race' with a first day time of 1h, 40min, 8sec for a 22 mile
mountainous course...running 11 dogs in the 'Open Class' (Open = as may
dogs as you want to run.)
Basically I had promised to do a 'meet the musher' appearance
from 4-6 on Friday at my town's Winterfest celebration.... so I started
driving @ 75mph @ 6:15pm and got to the race site at 1:30am.... woke up
in the dog truck before dawn, a few hours later, sick with food poisoning(?)
I puked a few times ...then dropped the dogs and watered them by 6am (3
hours before they would run.) Then I sat in the front seat wrapped in
my sleeping bag and fought with myself deciding if I was going to run.
I felt terrible, plus no real solid sleep. I had just convinced myself
that I wasn't going to go out, and instead just go back to bed and then
drive back home (and I was ok with that) ....then my better side spoke
up, "So, Sissy, you are are just going to pack up and go home, just
like that?" ...and so the arguments began....but, as always, I settled
the brawl by flipping a quarter... first flip, Tails.... 'I don't go out'....
'well, there you go' ...'flip it again, Sissy'...Heads... 'I go out'...
'flip it again'...Heads... 'I go out'... 'flip it again'...Heads... 'I
go out'... 'flip it again'...Heads... 'I go out'... 'flip it again'...Heads...
'ok, can't argue with 5 in a row... get your butt up and dressed'... 'yeah,
I didn't come all this way to turn around and drive back'... 'yeah, me
neither'....'maybe I'll just go back to sleep'... 'shut up and on the
count of three open the door and be ready for the cold. Just stand on
the runners, don't worry about running or peddling. The dogs aren't sick...
wouldn't be fair to them to not let them run.'
...So I hit the ground in auto-pilot and went into my routine.
Other people came and helped me harness and get hooked up and off the
line. The trail was pretty hard and groomed but still a little choppy
from snowmobile use... so it was pretty fast, but not crazy fast. Dogs
looked good but I knew we had a good sized mountain coming up so I was
wondering how they would look coming home. We passed three teams by the
top and never saw them again. The trail was pretty intense at times....
sharp drop offs going into blind turns and more drop offs... and with
45+ feet of dogs in front of you, you can't even see your leaders. Anyway,
I really enjoyed it... all sorts of terrain but a hard well packed trail.
I also felt much better after the adrenaline started pumping. But I didn't
think I would break any records.
6th race of this season: Ashton, Idaho
well, it wasn't pretty.... but we came in 3rd overall out of the seventeen,
8 dog teams in Ashton, running 68 miles (34 miles 2 days in a row) in
6 hours 24 minutes and 10 seconds.... about 12 minutes off the 1st and
2nd place times ...but only 36 seconds away from the guy in 4th. Trail
conditions were wet and warm with deep snow the first day (I came in 5th)
but faster and harder on the final day (I came in 2nd.) Click
here for the time sheet
So, for the 2002-2003 race season, that was three 3rd place
finishes and three wins (including a new track record in Glenwood Springs,
CO in the Open Class.) We were also the Colorado Mountain Musher's overall
points leader in the 10 dog mid-distance class, winning a gold medal.
Next Year, I hope to run the 8 dog Kamchadal
International Sled Dog Race, an IFSS World Cup event, which will take
place on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, March 25-28, 2004. If you have
an interest in sponsoring us, please click