As always, much to report since last time!
The snow situation has not improved at all up here (although I understand that there is a ton of the stuff at home in Alberta now!!!). I was losing a little sleeping fretting about the training I was getting in on the dogs. Thankfully, Bob Chlupach, who I met in 2001 when he ran Earl and Natalie's team in the Iditarod, has come to my rescue. Bob arrived home from a trip to the lower 48 and heard of my plight from his wife, Robin. The very next morning he was on the phone telling me to come and train out of his yard. So, armed with detailed maps he provided, I've been trucking up the road 10 miles or so to his place, hooking up in his yard, and getting nice, solid 40 mile runs in. The dogs are knocking off some really incredible runs too. A little too incredible actually, so I'm weighing down the sled and spending a lot of time standing on my drag track! They need to save some of this enthusiasm for March!
This weekend is the Knik 200. The Don Bowers Race and the Tustemena were both cancelled, so I'm very happy that they are able to run the Knik. It is a 12 dog race. I've not yet decided which 12 dogs to take, but the more experienced dogs, like Grover, Gus, Camilla, Smiley, Mannie, Chester, and Kaylinn will probably stay home and I'll use this to evaluate some of the rookies!
This past Sunday I went to the Willow Winter Carnival and entered Surge and Grover in the weight pull competition. None of my dogs nor I have ever been to a weight pull before, so I would have been more then pleased if they just pulled the first load, which was 200 lbs. Seems I underestimated my amazing canine athletes - Surge (57 lbs, according to their scale) pulled 800 lbs and Grover (55.5 lbs) I pulled out of the competition after he successfully pulled 1250 lbs (as it was his first pull, I didn't want him to overdo it!)!!!! I was astounded - and then a little scared after I started doing some figuring......say each of my dogs can pull about 700 lbs.....700 x 16 = 11200 lbs......say an Iditarod sled with musher weighs about 400 lbs......11200lbs - 400 = trouble for Karen!!! Anyway, I was so proud of Grover - he looked like a real professional out there and received many compliments from other participants and spectators. What a truly special dog he is. And hats off to Surge too - although he may have lacked the focus and drive of Grover, he did a more then commendable job and had a lot of fun doing it!
If any of you have a weight pull in your area, I encourage you to attend. It is a wonderful display of the amazing strength of dogs and their bond with their owners. The dog that won the pull was a very large St. Bernard who calmly and with relative ease, dropped his head and pulled 3500 lbs. when asked to. Simply amazing! And I thought walking mine on a leash was hard! :)
After the pull, Jamie West and I wandered around the Carnival a bit. There were all sorts of booths with crafts and artwork. I passed on the reindeer hot dogs, which Jamie reported were good. We took in the 'Most abused Carhartts' contest. For those of you not in the 'know' - Carhartts are an extremely tough brand of coverall that are pretty much a uniform in Alaska, Minnesota, around dog sled races, etc. The contest was won by a spunky older woman, maybe in her 80's that also placed in the woman's cross cut saw competition. The wad of chewing tobacco in her cheek during the Carhartt contest was the 'touch' that put her on to victory, I think.
Bidding for the 2003 Idita-rider auction finished up last Friday. Folks bidding to ride the first 11 miles of the race with the mushers raised over $100,000 for the Iditarod. The winning bid on my sled was $1700 - the 8th highest bid overall out of the 74 mushers. That is very flattering! I don't know yet who my Idita-rider will be, but I will get to meet them at a luncheon on February 27. Over the years I have stayed in contact with my other Idita-riders - I consider the friendships made to be the true benefit of this program!
Anyway, that is the news for the day!
31 days left till the start of Iditarod - not that I'm counting or anything!