Well Jan 29 here in Yellowknife, our last run here until we get home from the races at the end on March.
Kate and I took our final pool of dogs on a 70 mile run. We have 27. I am still not sure which ones will go to the Quest. We could have almost 2 separate teams, for the two big races as the Quest allows a maximum of 14 dogs.
Most of our 70 milers take about 6 hours, pulling about 40 lbs per dog (combined weight of musher, sled etc.)
It will be interesting to run them with a relatively light sled of about 20- 25 lbs for the race. I have worked very hard this season to get the dogs in a manageable speed that is not bogged down (10 mph and less) as the dogs basic pace I feel and know is 11- 13 mph. The basic pace is what the dogs fall into at some point in the race; it is ultimately the speed they are comfortable running and they pretty much find it themselves (if you allow them).
I have tried to see which dogs will fall out of the available pool. We have continued with the long runs, some consecutive at that. Granted, some have been a little sore, but they all get up and bark to go. I am leaning towards the thicker coated dogs and the bigger dogs for the Quest. That is the only defining aspect that I can use as a measuring stick. All are eating well, they will gain a little more weight while we are on the road.
We are headed tomorrow morning to our great friends Jacques and Magali's outside of Fairbanks.While there we will get the rest of the Iditarod food drops done, and a few more runs on the dogs, then head back into Canada to Whitehorse for the pre race festivities. So that being said , I will not be saving dogs for the Iditarod, how ever it will end up that way.
MJ , Sake and Jean are down in Jackson Wyoming, they will be running with the Swingley outfit there for the race. Mel is going to have a great race! Look around all the standings, these dogs are as close to dominating as you can get these days. Our buddy Dan Turner from Oregon just won the Beargrease 150( which is very competitive) , Jason won the Beargrease, He may not admit his bloodlines but they are primarily Swingley
I saw that Jeff King will be racing there, I can say that he will not be likley to win . However, the mid top ten will be moved around now that he is there.
Zion, Kazen, and Dude are all still in the pool as well. These are all dogs that are for sale. I had almost closed a sale last summer on a group of six dogs , boy am I glad they didn't sell them, they are a great asset.
We had some great leader training yesterday as well, there had been a lot of snowmobile traffic out on the big lake the past week and we had been using other trails, so the trail to our camp was pretty much non existent except for the tree and lath marking our trail. Cash, Earl, Caper, and Frank all had their turn getting in some more practice running without a trail. Those that run dogs will appreciate a dog that will follow an old dog trail instead of a defined snowmobile trail. What a great feeling! And a testament of strong willed dogs!
Here is a picture taking down our camp yesterday.