The Race day started out with a slight brisk wind just about right for a race Prince Albert to Anglin Lake 50 miles,first the 12 dogs teams left town followed by us,the 8 dogs teams as the count down started my sponsor rider jumps on the sled right off, the bat we are behing the 8 ball, weight wise so to speak we are two big boys. but I knew the rules coming in we all start even ,
off we go the team starts well down main street and on to the river over on to the opposite bank we come to the drop off for my rider he thanks, me I in return thank him and his company for helping the race ,As sponsors, are a big part of most competitive sport.as we wind though the outskirts of Prince Albert and on to farmland the day is rapidly warmimng up the team just doe'st seem to be themselves.
as we continue along we come to a drop down to the little red river no trail just a drop and man" do we drop and Crash' we hit the bottom of the river bank I do a quick survey of the team at this point, they all look no worse for wear so we continue on. (everyone who went down this embankment has a story to tell, a couple went the wrong way one musher lost her team,for the first few miles all teams are jockeying for position and this will continue for the next while The trail is heavy and slow ,Bo starts to have a slack tug line way out of charteter for him ,when we stop he's not hitting the line wanting to go, the way he normally does ,I keep my eye on him ,All the teams seem to be in a good mood .we leave the field and head into the forest and are now in Resort country ,I still felt at this point we where in a good position and that the team would respond once it cooled off as i was planning a night run.
we arrive at Anglin Lake check point and My Handler JD is there to greet me we discuss the team and any concerns with their Care , as the vet are checking over the team I tell them about Bo" My main wheel Dog, not being himself, once examination are done all is good except Bo he has a bruised lung tissue, I mention the wreck at the river ,we all agree in the best interest , Bo's race was over" ,it was hard to leave him behind,as he was one of my best wheels dogs .
I'M down to 7 dogs.
we head out of Anglin Lake on our way to Elkridge check point #2 ,20 mile run finally some fast trail we do the run in 21/2 hrs , they don't seem to have an appetite i decide to stay a couple of hrs. we do other check of the team all looks well,off we go I'm hopping to do a 40 mile run ,we are now heading back to the highway. about a mile from there i spot two teams sleeping in a warm up shack ,A couple of my dogs seem off so once again I decide to give them a break .I grab my sleeping bag and head in. theres a fire going I like this, it turns out to be 2 mushers I know well and good friends,I tried to be as quite as possible ,Sid was up and we had a short talk. I get about an hr worth of sleep,still to hyped up ,Sid & Jess pull out I decide to stay a couple more hrs I roast a couple of hot dogs for breakfast and have a cup of tea ,As I'm hooking up the team the morning feels to warm for northern Sask we have been here when it has been -49 -59 ,now I'm Way to warm -6-16,Off we go check point #3.
As i Step on the Runners, In a blur I notice
That my lead dogs, guide dog (Yeah really) is continually looking back never a dip on hers tugs ,I start worrying she not running right soon she just says to heck with this and stop working completely ,
we stop and I do a head to toe check to see if she has and injury , None evident Not taking chances I load her in the sled still 35+ miles to go. "Now" this, as we carry on the heat of the days is catching up with us ,I'm doing all I can to stay positive at this point, anything different and the dogs will pick up on it and act to it,
As the heat overtakes us we stop we are all exhausted ,Checkers come by ask how its going ,I explain NWAS but thanks for asking, Nice guy we chit chat for a bit,He keeps saying I don't know but they don't look to good , I should consider scratching, I'M Thinking no, only 1 dog is feeling poorly the rest are ready to continue(I Think ), I ask Him if the Vets could come and have a look at her, he agrees and request or suggests (sleep Deprivation) he will call my handler to the roadside just in case.(As a last place musher HRS behind the rest there are times when some want the race to be over and to close the checkpoints, as everyone is tired its been a long week and so on ,more negatives I won't dwell on,moving along)
I agree and But stat I will only make my decision after they have had a once over by the Vets Because we still had a lot of time to go and I felt we could still make it .The race Marshall arrives I explain my position to him he agrees to let me drop the dog there and says the other racers will have the same concessions, he goes on to say the rest look real great and to keep going which I explained I had every intention if the team was fine, I end up dropping another Dog,down to 6 with a 100 miles to go.
"What is going on here not the team I left Home with" Do they have a bug or is it the heat, I'M racking my brain here ("Where is my Team"),So on we go Trying to push the afternoon into the Dark. Then around 3:00 its trying to Rain, at that point a checker arrives ask how this are going, "You know what I said " she says that "ITS about 9.6KM to go, and most of it involved Hills I thanked her for this information, And said I should continue on, and that if I did not arrive in 2hrs to send help and a sandwich LOL ,
As I started again got to thinking I should have said 3-4hrs what if the team stopped,But on the last hill into checkpoint #3 the dogs just flew in ,So in we go JD is there waiting for me I go to a fire to warm up. JD tends to the team ,once done he said we could go to the local hall where the rest of the Mushers rested for a much needed snooze "we get there the doors are Locked ,WTF ,I say Really)
JD" I give up sleeping in trucks yrs ago This is gonna be a long Night I just feel it,I make some calls to the R.M and soon the hall doors are open .Just in Time I start cramping up big time My handler gets me hydrated along with Some pain killers, I crawl into my brand new 400 dollar sleeping bag goodnight" Irene,ZZZZZZZZZZ until about 3 in the morning I wake up sweating drop's of water, Bags working too good soaking wet, I take my undershirt off its wet ,then Lay down to ice cold bag ,shriving I sit up put back on, my wet shirt ,Why the Hell didn't I take up surfing,suddenly theres a loud bang" Furnace must have kicked on Time to rise and run " I wake JD up who just layed down hrs ago after dropping them I get a run down on who's eating and drinking ,as a handler the musher relies on the information and observation the the teams actions while resting I have one dog to be concerned about ,and yes one of the big boys .Its a 20 mile run to the last check point The vets do a quick examine he stats the team looks good,The vets are the trooper of the race out 24 hrs very little rest and Their volunteering their time Can't thank them enough,Off we go the dogs start OUT AT A Good LOPE i HOLD THEM BACK IT IS A FAIRLY EASY RUN TO WHAT IS KNOWN AS LT's
Once we arrive it is my good friend and previous president of the race ,I explain to dave we plan on staying till night fall fall, He says we have lots of food and drink stay as long as we need .I have a good visit with the crew ,and come late afternoon my big boy still is not drinking as much I i would like,I'm starting to worry ,Only 60 miles to go Can I make it with five dogs what to do ,about 3:30pm he starts to drink and eat . Thank my lucky stars ,I ask if there is anywhere along the trail I can drop this brute if he falters, Dave says there is a drop about 35mile up the trail and he states someone will be There." AS we hit the trail it is smooth and just right for the team I hold them back just enough to loosen them up all of a sudden, Mooshu starts to dip for snow and dip and dip right on hes getting hydrated ,Off the road and into the woods we go the sun is down and its starting to cool off the team is flying.
NOW this is the team left home with where have you been, I ask them,When we stop they are hammering the gang line to go,
I says to the team alright if you wanna go we'll go
I'm looking for this road with the checkers on it .As i had already passed a couple of roads, but saw no one But as i was leaving I said to the checker to tell the crew ahead I was planning on taking my time as we were not gong to catch the first 2 racers , all we wanted was to cross that line and slay my Dragon,
As I have tried this Race 3 times previously ,and came up short,at about 11:30 I knew that either we have passed the road or we are really going slow ,12:00 am Nothing,all of a sudden we are on a lake and there are homes along the shore ,could this be Lac La Ronge ,on we run the Northern Lights come out briefly as if to congratulate us soon the lights of town show up ,and I know we have finally finished what we started ,AS I watched my Team run into town the Tears, start rolling down ,I said thank you my most precious friends" Thank you.
I was told Later on That we for Now hold the record for the fastest finish of both the 12&8 dogs teams, from LT'S to the finish line "8hrs15min nonstop ,6 beautiful dogs. The smokey river racing team collects the........... RED LANTERN