(Moira finally got enough cell signal to send this update through… Enjoy!)
Certainly a lot has happened since the teams left from Glennallen over 14 hours ago!
The run from Glennallen to Sourdough was 73.3 miles over some new trail not run in the CB300 before. The severe cold snap that was forecast didn’t arrive (yet) and instead came the snow. Lots and lots of snow, over a foot in Sourdough by all accounts. The snow was also “sugary” making it challenging to run through. Such snow doesn’t pack down like other snow, it is too dry, so instead of breaking trail for those following, the teams in front got the better conditions. This created some issues for the organisers, having ploughed parking spaces and in/out chutes the day before only to see them snowed in again.
BLACK TEAM UPDATE
Allen and the Black Team arrived hot on Matt Hall’s tail. We parked the Black Team near the exit chute sheltered somewhat from too much more snow next to a small bank of trees and willows. After the 73 mile run the team was ready to have a snack and settle into their straw for a good long nap. Allen curled up in his sleeping bag near Rodney and caught a short nap himself before doing his checkpoint exit routine of feeding the dogs the meal he prepared as he arrived, booty-ing and putting leggings on (in these snow conditions, the dogs that have longer hair along the back of their front legs wear leggings to protect against snow balls forming).
After five hours on the dot they headed out on the 34-odd miles to Meiers Lake. Conditions changed quite suddenly around that time to cold driving wind at the top of the steep hills blowing in the trails and making it more challenging than normal. (This part of the trail has been run the last few years, only in reverse, so Allen and Aliy are familiar with “the hills”). Kodiak and Commando were still the dogs to lead through this. The weather and trail conditions made the run time slower than first anticipated but still made good time considering.
Meiers Lake checkpoint was very cold with horizontal driving snow. The parking spots that had been beautifully ploughed out yesterday had disappeared so we were left to find what spot we could to shelter the dogs somewhat. Mark had the genius idea of parking the team around the back of a cabin BUT this meant we had to turn the dogs 180 degrees to get them facing the right way. Allen said “no problem – we do this in practice all the time” so after expertly manouvering them (we did it while they were tired instead of when they woke up), we got them settled in a prime parking area completely sheltered from the wind.
Meiers Lake checkpoint has traditionally been where Aliy and Allen have taken their mandatory six hour rest plus time differential (I think Macgellan has explained about this – basically it puts everyone back on equal time after the staggered start). This year was no different so the Black Team rested their required time. They left bang on time ready for the 70-odd mile run into Tolsona lake.
By the way: Tinder, Rodney, Champ and Daisy are rock stars! The others are pretty stinkin’ awesome also.
RED TEAM UPDATE
Originally Aliy was going to start with Spark and Lydia in lead but with the snow falling and more forecast she decided she would put bigger and stronger Chemo up front to break the trail for the team. Lydia said she could have done it “no problem” but turns out she was glad Chemo stepped up. Once on the trail the red team was also making great time until about 25 miles out of the checkpoint. Aliy and Sissy had what Aliy called “a miscommunication” – Sissy got some snow in her bootie and, just like if we had a stone in our shoe, she started limping on it so Aliy loaded her into the sled to ride the rest of the way thinking Sis had some sort of injury. Once they got into the checkpoint Aliy had one of the volunteer vets to take a look and they could find nothing specifically wrong so Aliy decided to let Sissy sleep on it and would reassess after their nap. Turns out she was absolutely fine and continued strongly with the team onto Meiers Lake (well, she did get an extra 25 mile rest).
After checkpoint arrival chores (snacking the dogs, putting straw down for them to sleep, removing booties and leggings, soaking some kibble ready for their hot meal after they wake up and packing her sled) Aliy settled into her sleeping bag, curled up with her wheel dogs and had a nap herself. At some checkpoints there is water available that a musher can heat up in their cooker to make a meal – at Sourdough they have to melt snow into water. That means the musher must be multitasking as they arrive keeping their cookpot topped up with fresh snow in between the other chores.
The Red team also took five hours rest at Sourdough and headed away towards Meiers Lake where they arrived some 4 hours 40 minutes later. Again, the ability of the team to turn on a dime meant they could share the sheltered parking spot with the Black Team and be away from the blowing snow for their mandatory six hour (plus differential) rest.
Right on time, Aliy pulled the hook for her team to head to Tolsona.
Aliy’s rookies, Amber and Iron, are doing GREAT! As is the rest of the team.
RED AND BLACK TEAM UPDATE
Chris’ youngsters coped brilliantly with the chaos of the start line to romp away down the trail. The first leg was a long run for them but they got to Sourdough looking particularly perky!! Chris completed his arrival chores and they settled quickly to take their five hour rest.
By the time the R&Bs ran over “the hills” it was really blowing and thick snow so they all worked really hard to get to Meiers Lake. Remembering this is the Copper Basin 300 – the most challenging 300 miles in Alaska, it proved to be correct once again.
They rested and ate really well to leave after their mandatory six hour stop (plus differential).
Chris himself is doing well! It is a tough race and he was his usual cool, calm self, quietly and efficiently completing his start line and checkpoint routines. He sure was ready for a cheeseburger at Meiers Lake.
The teams are headed to Tolsona Lake checkpoint, doubling back over some sections of trail already run. The handler team is trying to catch what rest we can between supporting our mushers in and out of the checkpoints and cleaning the camp spots once they leave. We will catch a nap ourselves before hitting the road for Tolsona. We are unlikely to get internet there so I’ll hand off back to Macgellan.
I hope to update you again from Mendeltna.
(Sorry – no pictures: not enough internet juice to upload them)