The Long Awaited Showdown Has Begun


We set the alarm for 6:00AM Sunday morning and we were both up and out of bed before it ever went off.  Racing has a way to do that to you; I often wonder why we set the darn things.   We watered the dogs and headed to the parking lot in hopes of getting a parking spot close to the start.  Mission was accomplished.  We were glad it worked out because the snow banks were 4 feet high and that would have been a bear trying to hook up dogs; mountain climber I’m not.  Teams were all rolling in within the ½ hour.   The Gilbertson crew had bad luck on the way to Lander and their truck died, but they were able to get the horse trailer with all the dogs up to the starting line and will work on getting to Pinedale later.  We were scheduled for a drug test this AM, but there were no vets.  The pooches crossed their legs as long as they could, but when I saw pee streaming from the boxes it was time to drop.   They managed to get the dogs when we dropped just before hooking up.  The Chief Pee Tester jumped right in there and even skipped the glove part; now that’s a gal that takes her job seriously. 

Our team today was led by Max & Della.  Supporting crew in order of hook up was Cheyenne, Rocky, Perry, Billy, Utah, Sedona, Shiner, Stella and Vaanta.  Since our theme this year is to mix it up and do things differently, we decided to go with 11 dogs as opposed to our normal 10.  Max & Della would rank as our 3rd fastest set of leaders.  We knew they would set a nice pace and keep us within reach, but we didn’t expect to win this one with them in lead.  We are hoping our other sets will help us out later in the game and will be well rested.  Terry Streeper asked me today if I like to gamble and I said, “No!”  I guess I fibbed a little because we gambled today and we’re hoping it pays off later.

The team was amped to go and just going crazy on the truck.  I was sorry we were so close to the start as they watched 7 teams go out in front of them and were practically foaming at the mouth.  I just wanted them to relax and save the energy.  When we got to the chute two of the dogs got in a little scuffle due to adrenaline overload, but all was handled without bloodshed sparing the crowd the ugly side of dog racing. 

The course was hard and fast for about halfway and then it got really sloppy from all the snowmobile traffic.  Temps were very strange today.  They left in the twenties and it kept climbing for the teams until it reached in the thirties.  However, the handlers all saw the temps drop, then the wind and snow came and as we were waiting it got a little miserable; which the drivers never saw at all.   Bruce had a few issues on the run when one of his leaders didn’t make a sharp right hand turn 3 ½ miles into the run and then they wrapped him around a tree in waist deep snow.   Then later he had a tangle after the team was passed.  So it cost him a few minutes.  Aside from that they ran great.  Our new training program really showed the benefits.  We climbed better than we ever have and they had the speed to boot.  The team fared well from the conditions; there’s a little soreness here and there, which I’m sure is attributed to the fact that we had no snow when we left so they are still getting their snow legs.  Overall, we are pleased with the dog’s performance, bummed about the mishaps, but such is dog racing.   We are sitting in a good position after Stage One.

I know many of you have asked me to write about what happened to other teams; however, I’ve not found this an easy thing to do.  I’m just a blogger and don’t have the mindset for in your face reporting.  Sorry, but going up to a musher that just had the crappiest run and then asking them what happened so they have to relive it is just plain cruel.  Most don’t openly want to talk about bad runs or runs they felt they should have fared better and especially not for me to post on FB.  If anyone is willing to share and wants it out there, I’ll be glad to let folks know.   I do know there are a good handful of teams that had bad runs and had hoped to do better.  The reasons varied from conditions, temps, sore dogs etc.  This is typical dog racing except at Stage Stop there is 8 days of this roller coaster.

We’ve heard that Lance Mackey’s truck broke down and they have everyone working to get it repaired in time for the start tomorrow.  Wouldn’t be Stage Stop if no trucks broke down!  As for the Gilbertson crew they made it to Pinedale and I haven’t heard if there is a ride to Big Piney yet; talk about stress, heh!

Pinedale has minimal snow, but we heard we are still running out of downtown.  Temps are supposed to drop to -20F by Big Piney.  Catch y’all tomorrow!

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