Living Vicariously

If you’ve read the previous entry, you’ll know of my dog truck troubles.

Sadly, these have still not been resolved, Problem A has metamorphed into Problem B and as of Friday, neither issue has been fixed and so, I’m stranded at home.  The dogs are sitting around with their feet up and the season is wasting away before my very eyes. I’m even flirting with the idea of buying a used dog truck just so as I can get the dogs training – but that’s not really sensible, financially prudent or even that practical an idea.

The cold weather of the past few weeks has also moved on – temperatures here are bouncing up around 40 – 50 F, although I had to laugh when I noticed the other day, that Edinburgh was colder than Anchorage, Alaska.

As a group, dog drivers are obsessed with the weather. It provides endless conversation and conjecture. We seem to want it colder, warmer, more snow, less snow, less wind, sunnier, cloudier, and even on occasion, rainy (not very often for that one).  This last couple of weeks, I’ve had the time to follow the adventures of some of our American friends who are just starting their mid/long distance racing season.

Over the last few years, we have become good friends with Mike and Sue Ellis of Tsuga Siberians. Based in NH, I have had the good fortune to be allowed to handle for them on a couple of race occasions, spend some time up at their training camp and generally get in their way. A lot of the drive I have had towards getting more involved in distance running is down to the time I have spent with Mike & Sue and also Bob & Rhonda O’Hearn. Mike’s a regular in the Can-Am 250 mile race held in Fort Kent, Me – consistently finishing in the money. Last year, he fulfilled a dream of running in the Yukon Quest and despite it being his rookie race , his finish time was quick enough for his team to become the fastest team of Siberians to finish the Quest. This year, Mike’s gone back to run it again – and has hopes of doing even better.

Anyway, they made the long trip from NH to Alaska again this Fall, and are living in Two Rivers, training and racing in preparation for the upcoming Quest. Mike writes a great Dog Log and really lays out his feelings for his dogs for all to see. I heartily recommend you have a read at it.

Partly out of my interest in following Mike’s exploits and partly from my fascination with distance mushers generally, I tend to keep an eye on those kennels who publish blogs and also on distance race sites. Some race sites are incredible in the amount of detailed information they provide ( Can-Am, take a bow you are the standard bearer), others leave you with a little more guess work and one or two seem to consider their job is done if they tell you the day the race starts.     So far this season, I’ve followed the Sheep Mountain 150, the GinGin 200, (click here to read Mike’s harrowing account of his race.) and the Copper Basin 300.

Mike Ellis at the start of the Copper Basin 300
Mike Ellis at the start of the Copper Basin 300

Photo credit: Jonathan Flamm

This weekend should have seen the starts of the Kuskowim 300 on Friday and the Klondike 300 on Saturday.  Both of these races have had to delay their start dates in the hope that the freakishly warm weather will ease off. For me, as an Outside observer, it’s doubly amazing that the weather has been so mild this week, because of the conditions experienced in the races the previous week – where temperatures had plunged to well below -50F at some points. I have seen a few places where the temperature swing has been over 100F in the course of a few days. Whilst I’m sure everyone is glad to see the back of the extreme cold, I suspect most would have settled for not quite such a drastic change.

It’s fingers crossed all round – I’m hoping my truck gets fixed soon, and we’re all hoping the weather gets fixed real soon too.


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