My lil buddies are growing fast. Max and Furiosa are bigger than Annie! The Star Wars pups are lean, beautiful animals who are going to be some incredible athletes. And Cassidy and Sundance are sweet, hard working girls. I LOVE THESE DOGS. Did I mention The Core Four? Egret and Annie are the coolest. Egret is a never-say-stop hard worker (okay except when she poops!), and Annie is pure dedication and smarts. Nala and Ophelia are full of that joyous yearling (almost 2 year old!) energy, which also sometimes manifests in a pain-in-the-butt way. All of these dogs are, in my possibly biased opinion, the best dogs I’ve ever met.
This morning I took the whole team out for an early run while the temperatures were still under 40. Ophelia and Annie held up the lead, and got to go through a real test– A giant puddle! Spring is always wet in Alaska, and we’ve been mushing through our share of puddles, but this was a real monster, going up to Ophelia’s chest. That’s pretty deep!!! The youngest pups were not sure about this adventure but as soon as we made it through, I gave everyone a lot of lovin and told them what a good job they had done. The course we were on meant that we turned around and did the same puddle again! They plunged straight through like pros. This is great training for down the road when we’ll encounter open water on races. The dogs need to be confident and familiar with all kinds of weird obstacles. That way, when we come up on something new on the trail, the dogs can say, “I CAN DO THIS!”
I think summer is officially here. Really this time. The mosquitos have arrived, so that’s pretty much it. My brain is definitely already in next winter. The pups need this summer to grow, work on their socialization and other skills, and just get to be dogs! But I’m impatient, dreaming of the next trail.
Next year is our yearling year. That means a lot of camping! But a big motivator for me is picking out the race or races we’ll get to do.
I’d really love to do a 300 mile race. There are a good handful of options in late January / early February. My favorite 300 mile race is the Copper Basin 300. I just love that race. It’s the first dog race I ever saw in person, the year we moved to Glennallen, and it was the first 300 mile race I ran, in 2010. It holds a really special place in my heart. I am also partial to the Northern Lights 300, which I think is a great race for yearlings! However, both of those races are ones I’ve already done– Not once but twice! So I am also looking at some other 300 mile options.
The tough thing with any 300 mile race is that, even though it’s no Iditarod or Quest, it can be expensive.
Regardless of which race I choose, I’ll need to shore up a good stock of booties, high protein dog food and meat, straw for the dogs to camp with, and snacks the dogs eat regularly on runs to fuel their high metabolism. The big expenses of a 300 mile race (particularly the ones I could run this year) are the entry fee, the cost to travel to the race, lodging and board expenses for myself and a handler, and then, in most cases, the cost to send the dog truck around the race course for support. In races like the Copper Basin, each team is required to have a handler who travels from checkpoint to checkpoint, clocking a pretty impressive amount of miles on the dog truck. The handlers don’t assist the musher beyond telling them where water and food might be at a checkpoint, and helping park a team at their resting spot. However, the important function of a handler (and dog truck) at each checkpoint is to be available in case a team needs to “drop” a dog– If a dog gets a twisted ankle or sore wrist, or feels ill, the musher can take them out of the race and they immediately are taken into the care of that team’s handler.
Sending my fuel-inefficient truck around the course of the Copper Basin will be costly, for sure. I need to decide if the funds are there to make it work. If not, we have the option to do the local mid distance race, the Two Rivers 200, which would be a fine end of the year race for the team. (If the schedule and money works out, we’d hope to do the TR200 or 100 regardless!) Doing that race as our finale, though, means we do miss out on some of the other learning experiences for the yearlings: traveling in a truck to a race, getting to be around new teams and a race environment in a different place, and getting to see totally new trail.
Needless to say, I’d really love to fit a good 300 mile race into the end of our season. After a lot of thought, and mostly because I just love this race, I really want to aim high and shoot for the Copper Basin.
To that end, we’re gonna do some summer fundraising to go towards that goal!
Here is a breakdown of some of the funds to raise:
$500 for the race entry fee
$500 for booties (for training and the race)
$1000 for gas and truck expenses
$500 to put up and feed the human team
$500 for dropbags – including dog snacks, extra gear, and cooker fuel to send to checkpoints
If we are able to get to our goal of $3000 by race signup (I believe that is October 1), we will enter the Copper Basin 300 this year!
If we don’t quite get to that goal, the funds we raise will go towards either a more cost effective 300 mile race, or the TR200.
If you are into throwing a few dollars towards this race season, this is a great place to do it! Click on this button… This one… Right here…
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*Founding Member funds go towards current kennel expenses and upkeep. Our next kennel project is a dog house makeover!
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Thanks as always for reading, following, and supporting ATAO. Onward!