"Typical distance musher..."
This was said by race marshal Mike McCowan, with a shake of his head, to the crowd after I left the start chute in yesterday's race. I got to the race an hour early to get ready but futzed and dilly-dallied and chatted and then before I knew it, they were announcing 'Seven minutes until the start of the mid-distance class' over the loud speaker. Crap! So, I almost missed my start time but as the announcer was counting down 'Three! Two! One!' I burned it across the line and I was off. Long-distance mushers are notoriously late for everything and Mike knows that I'm an aspiring Quest musher. Well, I may not be ready for 1,000 miles yet, but I have the late-thing down pat.
There was only me and another guy in the 20-mile division yesterday but, wait for it, I won! Hooray! The dogs finished the course in an hour and 40 minutes. Not bad for distance dogs. I was looking over my shoulder the entire time as was Capiche up in lead. She knew. But we beat the guy by 13 minutes. After the race, Sam and I turned the team around and I went back out and ran the 10 miles home. Today, it's 37 below zero at our house, so no training. Tomorrow if it warms up, I'll take the dogs out for a 40-mile run. This weekend is the 100-mile race in Two Rivers and we are signing up for that one. After that, it's the Knik-Goosebay 120 in Wasilla at the beginning of February. Anyway, this was a good training race and good start to the race season. I had Summer and Kat, my new dogs, in the team and they were great. All the dogs were great, in fact. And with my new gear, despite it being 20 below F (-29 C) I was toasty warm on the runners. About two miles from the finish a musher in the open sprint class whizzed by me on the trail (he wasn't in my division, so I didn't care). He was whistling up his dogs to go faster. Short, loud blasts. And his dogs responded. When he passed us, my dogs responded too, and despite having just run 18 or so miles, they picked up the pace. We lost the guy on the hill coming into the field at the Mushers Hall, so I tried to whistle like that guy had done. I can't whistle like that, so I resorted to squeaking in a high-pitched voice to mimic a whistle. "KKWWEEEEK! KWEEEEEEEK!" It worked, and the dogs once again picked up the pace to the finish line. I just hope no one heard me. I sounded like a cross between a howler monkey and the dying cat parade.
Coming across the finish line. 'KWEEEEEEEEEK!'
Frosty love. My handler/husband Sam.
My eyelashes froze together at one point and I rode for a mile or so with one eye glued shut. A big thank you goes out to Libby, Theresa and Owen, and John and his family for coming out to the start to cheer me on.
Sam leading me to the start. Photo by John Wagner.
Fellow musher Alyssa helped me with my bib. I couldn't get my freakin' parka done up and they were counting me down...do I look like I'm freaking out? I was. Photo by John Wagner.
Sam, the best handler ever, helps me hook my dogs up. That's Summer he's got in this pic. Photo by John Wagner.