Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tails Along The Trail

8-hour layover at Maclaren Lodge
The Story of the Shrew!
Just outside of Maclaren Lodge while the dogs and I were running down the packed trail, I saw a tiny shrew standing alongside the left-hand side of the trail on top of a snow berm. I said to myself that this could become a catastrophic event if the dogs caught sight of him. Just after I had said that out-loud, the shrew jumped off the berm onto the trail. My eyes widened with anticipation of what he (and the dogs) would do next. What I feared most happened right before my eyes as that little bugger ran toward the team full-throttle. As if he could have planned it any better, he headed full-on down the center of the team. I kept envisioning a tasty snack for one of my furry athletes, but they acted as though nothing was going past them other than the flying snow. I watched in awe as the shrew continued forward, running beneath my sled and beyond. I was so amazed at this daring feat that I began to imagine his little buddies off to the side of the berm cheering him on . . .
Running dogs over the 108-mile stretch between Wolverine Lodge and Maclaren Lodge.
Quickly moving along the trail, Micah (another musher) and I were entertained by fighter planes overhead. They were practicing their quick maneuvers. The baby blue sky served as their canvas as they shot past one another leaving a trail of exhaust behind. The dogs did not seem to notice the show above as we ran across the pristine snow. Toward the end of the show, there were two loud booms that shook the air around us. My first thought was that someone was shooting at us from across the way. I came to realize, soon afterwards, that the planes had broken the sound barrier. It was such an awesome event that will always be a memory of my final qualifying race for Iditarod.
Running hills during the 60-mile loop.
The scenery was beautiful along the 60-mile hilly loop. There were small spindly trees rising from beneath the blanket of snow. The snow sparkled under the afternoon sun and the swishing of the sled's runners and panting of the dogs filled the air. The run was extremely invigorating for the dogs and me!

Running the 60-mile loop
I left the starting line in position #9. After two hours on the trail, I fell back into last place. Other mushers were passing me in a full run. I was instructed to keep my dogs trotting, and this is what I did. I feel that, in the long-run, this allowed my dogs more energy for later in the race. It was, however, really hard to watch people pass me by.

Just a short clip of me out on the trail babbling . . .

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two Days Later . . .

The 60 mile loop was full of hills. I had to do a lot of running alongside the sled to help out the dogs.

My sled is on the left. We are packing up for the first run - 60 mile loop out of Wolverine Lodge.

I am back from the race and am ready to go another 300 miles! This race was a lot of fun, and I was able to learn a lot of new things and experience a variety of challenges. The temperature one night dipped down to 30-below, but, thankfully, I did not frostbite anything this time! I was wearing a Cabela's snow suit and Apocalypse down parka. For gloves, I wore a thin Red Ledge liner with beaver mitts. My hat was a beaver hat that one of the kids made for me when I taught in the village of Pitka's Point. I had a neck gator to stop the cold from slipping down the front of my jacket. I wore wool socks and used bunny boots for the 60-mile run and extreme-weather Sorel boots for the remainder of the race. Most of the time I was very comfortable. With all the lay-overs (6hrs., 8hrs., and 4hrs.), my race took about 59 hours. Out of those 59 hours, I slept a total of 5 restless hours. The hours that I slept were restless because I was trying not to oversleep and miss my leave-time. After I finished the race, I slept 5 hours and have continued on a normal routine since then. I think that there is so much adrenaline pumping that sleep deprivation doesn't really bother me. More than 3 days might be another story. I guess we will see . . .
I have so many stories to tell, and I am hoping to get a lot of them written up in the next week or so. Please check back on this blog often, and I will have more stories and photos.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A 4th Place Finish!!!!

Angie called home about 11 o'clock this evening (4/3) to let us know that she's finished the race - in 4th place out of 21 mushers!!!

We're so proud of you, Angie, and so thankful that you and the dogs have arrived safely at the finish line!

Third Leg of the Race Completed!

According to the Taiga official posting, Angie completed the third (30-mile) leg of the race at 2:40 A.M. in 2 hours and 37 minutes and was able (after her mandatory 4-hour layover) to leave on the final 110-mile segment of the race at 6:40 this morning. She and the dogs should be on the home-stretch now and should arrive at the finish line sometime this evening.
GO Team GO!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Second Leg of the Race Completed!

Today, Angie completed a 110-mile leg of the competition. She's now taking her mandatory 8-hour layover before continuing on with the next 30-mile section of the race. She hasn't called home, so I can't tell you anything other than that the race-committee posting shows (I think) that she arrived 5th (out of 21) into this check-point. Hopefully, she's now getting some rest before heading out again. She's scheduled to leave just after mid-night.
Hope you're enjoying this experience, Angie, and will have lots of information to share once the race is over. Our thoughts and prayers are with you . . .

Trail up-date (from the Taiga Trail Committee) on April 2nd

The trail is hard and fast for the most part. There is overflow on the lower Maclaren and some shaky ice bridges. Temperature on the lower Maclaren was -30 at 5:00 am. Temperature is 0 at noon with high scattered clouds. There is some punchy trail in some areas of the Susitna and the lower Maclaren.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

First Leg of the Race Completed!

Angie and her team of 11 dogs left Wolverine Lodge at 11:16 A.M. today (4/1) and ran the first leg of the race (60 miles) in 6 hours and 33 minutes. She now has a mandatory 6-hour layover plus time differential before continuing on to the next 110-mile leg of the race. She called home earlier this evening during the layover and said she is feeling good about the race and that her dogs are doing well. Hopefully, she'll be able to rest a bit before heading out again because the first leg of the race included a lot of hilly terrain. As a result, she spent much of her time running alongside the sled to lessen the weight that the dogs had to pull.
The earliest she will be allowed to leave for the next part of the race is 13 minutes after midnight. Hopefully, she'll enjoy the next 110 miles as much as she enjoyed the first 60.
GO, ANGIE, GO! We're rooting for you!