Hey. Remember me? Well, I'm back. Sorry for the delay. (It seems like I've been apologizing a lot lately.) I just spent two weeks in Big Lake training dogs and it was fantastic. They have lots of snow there and great trails. And it's warm...and by warm, I mean not 20 below F like it is here. Some days it was a little too warm and so I did a lot of night running. I trained with my BFF Rich Savoyski out of Greg Parvin's house. The trail jumps right onto the Iditarod route with lots of twisty turns and white-knuckle downhills. The dogs did great and we put in over 200 miles in under two weeks. Not bad for me. We did back-to-back four-hour runs and bumped them to fifty miles, which took me about six hours with a short snack break. We added some shorter runs in the mix to keep things fun. Bully and Capiche stayed in lead for the majority of the time but I did try some younger dogs up front too. We got a lot of practice head-on passing with some big guns like Ryan and Ray Redington and Cim Smyth. (Is that Cim?)
We got practice breaking trail and saw tons of overflow...some knee deep! The dogs just bombed through it all like champions. I couldn't be more proud of them. I took 14 dogs down with me (Bully, Capiche, Sister, Hitchcock, Strider, Brady, Hazel, Drake, Pete, Kat, Summer, Sipsi, Crush and Doyon) and still have to narrow the team down to 10 for the GinGin 200 which is now just a couple short weeks away!!! I feel a lot more confident in my camping skills and checkpoint routine and also in massaging and taking care of the dogs' feet. Even though I was away from Fairbanks, the cabin, Sam and the remaining dogs, I feel like this was the best decision I could have made for the team and my sanity. I'm actually not freaking out about the race now.
I'm home for tonight and then take off again tomorrow for the Sheep Mountain 150. I'm handling for Ken Anderson, who was fourth in Iditarod this year, and covering the race for the News-Miner and Mushing Magazine. Should be fun. There are some really top teams in this, the first race of the season, and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I'll be home late Sunday or early Monday and then it's back to long runs with my team in the White Mountains to get ready for GinGin. Watching the dogs progress like this is why I love driving dogs. It's hard sometimes, but we push through together as a team, and at the end we're all exhausted and fulfilled. I love this job!
PS. I would like to thank the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for their sponsorship and also Lou Ann Savoyski in Minnesota for making me the best dog jackets I have ever seen for a super great price. Your support means more than you can ever know.