I woke up on Sunday morning and I felt GREAT! It was amazing. The Drigg’s trail must have scared the shit right out of me as I had no symptoms. It was going to be an amazing day. I was fired up and I had John in my sights. I knew this team could do it and I just had to manage them properly. I could taste the win this morning and I had my game face on. I have never been this calm before a race start and it was awesome; why can’t they all feel like this? I pulled out my secret weapon and led with Yona and Smoke, Anders, Magnus, Teller, Nickle, Nero, Jax. It was about 3 degrees this morning and anticipated to get to 30 later in the day. I hoped the trail was not 6 inches of sugar as it had been the Thursday before the race.
We took off and the trail was all groomed and you could still see the groomer tracks. The team was fired up and started cooking. I was doing everything to keep them around 14.5-15mph. For me this was amazing as I had never raced in the mountains and I couldn’t believe they would climb over 15.5 mph. I was thinking, “Holy beans, I’m on the pad going uphill! Should I be doing this?” I stuck to my plan though and then as I neared the turnaround I
saw Liz coming on the return. I’m a mathematical num nut and cannot calculate time in this manner so I had no idea how far apart we were, but it appeared I had gained a little on her. Then I made the turn and not long after I saw John. It seemed really close, but possibly he had gained on me. I knew I had to make my move.
Then I let the beasts out of the cage and they responded accordingly. These dogs love to roll and they do it effortlessly. Smoke was brilliant and kept us hard on the right side right on the groomed track so we had hard, firm footing underneath and Yona was on a mission. Every time he saw a team, he put the after burners on and we charged right at them. It was truly awesome to be a part of this team as they ate up the trail. I kept my mouth shut, kept a close eye on them and let them do what they were trained to do while keeping the wheels on the buggy. We started picking off teams and then I saw Liz and I knew we were cranking. We rolled past her and kept going. I have this thing when I’m racing that I NEVER look back. My focus is forward and I refuse to look behind me. So we were running for all we were worth and for all I knew John was on my tail. We got to no man’s land and there was a team and I had a mild panic attack as I knew they didn’t have to give me trail and we were very near the turn off to the finish line. Thankfully, Dave Hochman is a real sportsman and gave me trail just before we had to turn. Unfortunately, the turn is not such a brilliant situation as the man trail goes straight to the parking lot with all the rigs and they turn you off right in front of the parking lot to go a ½ block to the finish. I was the first one back and there was no one manning the corner. There was no lathe just a few fluorescent sticks. So as I’m flying towards the turn there is a guy and a dog in the trail. I yelled, “Heads up”. They start running towards the parking lot and guess what my dogs wanted to do as I barreled into and through the sticks. Run to the parking lot as our truck was right near the edge in viewing distance. Thankfully, disaster was diverted as we got back on trail and headed to the finish line. A handful of teams behind me also had a similar problem including both the Stewart teams. Not a great way to have to finish when teams are so close in the standings. I hope they return to stopping the time before the turn next year to avoid this sort of unfortunate mess.
I was very proud of my team and the young dogs did fantastic. We won the day and lost the overall cumulative by ONE second! If only I had pumped or ran a few more of those hills the day before, if only I hadn’t stood on the pad so hard on some of those downhills, if only ……………..
I sucked up all the good juju today as Bruce didn’t have a great day. He and a few other teams decided to boot today as we are highly cautious of the Alpine trail due to what it has done to our feet in the past. He left with the mother son duo Sedona and Pfister in lead. For those of you that don’t know, Sedona is 10! She is a total phenom that can’t figure out she is getting older. We swore she would not make the team this year and she blew our doors off and put herself on the team again. We decided to put her in lead to keep the pace down a bit, but apparently she was on fire. They team stroked it to the turn around and Bruce figured Lina only had a minute on him and he was happy with this especially given he was booted and she was not. Right after the turn around at mile 31, Bruce had a dog suddenly just crumple and go down. He had been running perfectly and saw nothing. It became apparent he would need to be carried and so he bagged, of course, a 62 pound dog for the remainder of the race. That team worked their butts off and he was thankful that the trail had held up pretty decent or he could have been out there for a while. The dog is ok, but they think he might have miss stepped or something and it affected one of his vertebrae as they were able to duplicate the crumpling and ironically it is right where a harness pressure point is. They were able to adjust him, but they want to monitor before we decide if he can go again. It was one of those unlucky, tough breaks that we seem to know so well. Surprisingly, Bruce still managed to pull of 4th place. However, he has some work to do to in the overalls to get back up in the standings.
We have a day off tomorrow and then it’s off to Lander. Stay tuned!