Phew, it’s been a long day for everyone!
We started early and loaded two trucks with 32 dogs and headed in to Fairbanks ready for the ReStart. It was a typically cold Fairbanks morning, around -25F but clear blue skies.
Once at the staging area we dropped the dogs and gave them some meaty water for breakfast while the vet team came around to do some pee tests. Mismo was not impressed and held out until the plastic bag was removed from around his waist and the vet team had gone before peeing. We popped them all back up into the trucks again for an hour or so to rest and especially so the youngsters didn’t get too overexcited by all the activity, people and dogs.
With about an hour till “go-time” we dressed the dogs in their harnesses, booties, puff jackets, leggings and T-shirts. They all looked ready to get out of here. The staging area was quite a distance from the start chute but it was well organised and with lots of help from friends and family we got the teams safely to the line.
3-2-1-GO! Off they went towards the first checkpoint in Nenana while the crew went for breakfast and to ready ourselves to head to Nenana also.
The first checkpoint on this route is different to all the rest in that handlers take food, water, straw and whatever else we please to the checkpoint and are able to give our mushers a hot meal for the dogs and themselves. We can not touch the dogs or provide any kind of dog care but it was nice to be a little bit hands-on and able to help haul things and fix things.
Both Aliy and Allen stayed a while – Aliy about three hours, Allen about five – so we watched them complete their arrival chores while the vet teams checked out each athlete. Then they went up to the checkpoint building which is the local community centre. There was an amazing spread put on by the local community with chilli, spaghetti, soups, brownie, cookies and water. Aliy didn’t “dilly-dally” and headed back out to bootie up her team shortly after but Allen found a comfy spot for a quick nap. We are already seeing the difference in race schedules of the two teams.
Once the sun went down it got even colder out there on the river with the truck temperature gauge reading -30F. The stars were out in abundance and we had a wisp of auroras. Beautiful but cold.
Aliy left with a few of her dogs wearing their brand new reflective and battery-lit collars. Thanks to the team at Head-lites, they are fantastic!!
After his nap Allen left a howl and we watched until they were out of sight. We don’t see them again until Nome.
I have a heap of photos and video to edit and post and will do the over the next few days so there is something for you to look at other than the tracker. I hope you were able to follow along with our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages as I was able to post some pictures directly there throughout the day.