Monday, January 22, 2007

Cantwell Classic

A few notes about this great race. The race runs along the Denali Highway from Cantwell, through Big Su to Maclaren Lodge. Hugh ran the first half in mostly one stretch with stops every hour for snack breaks. He was the first to Maclaren and was on his own for a few hours. The race format however is that the race re-starts the next day in the reverse start order meaning the dogs had a long 10 hour rest before heading out again. Here's some photos from the start:

This is Watson (right) and Walter (left) in lead at hook-up. In behind them is their mom Colby.
This is me putting booties and harnesses on in preparation for the start. Hugh was leaving second with bib 3 (dual-starts).

This is Hugh with the Cantwell team just before leaving. Most of these dogs will be on his Iditarod team. And a picture from of Hugh in Maclaren lodge:
And this is Hugh giving Watson and Colby a rub-down before leaving Maclaren.As Hugh outlines in his story (above), on his way home, just outside of Big Su checkpoint, the team came across a huge porcupine in the middle of the trail. After waiting him out and thinking all was clear, Hugh let the team continue, only to have Walter pull over into the bushes to go after the porky. He and his brother Watson came out with quite a few quills mostly in their snouts. They made it to the checkpoint where Hugh and the vets started to pull them out. They were able to get Watson's out fairly easily but Walter needed to be put under to remove some quills that were deeply embedded in his back leg. This delay meant Lance was home free to the finish line as Hugh left about an hour late. No worries - we'd rather have 2nd and two ultimately happy, healthy leaders. Here's a great photo from the banquet where none other but George Attla was in attendance (the race was in his honor after all):

Overall, a great race - hope to be back next year!

Next we drove on to Willow where we took the dogs that were to go in the Kusko out for a training run. Here's a pic of the team:

After a longer than expected run (5 hours instead of 2) by taking the wrong trail and many interesting events due to deep snow next to the trail making turning 14 dogs around a challenge, we finally had some quieter dogs in the truck that night.

The next two days were focused on Iditarod food drops which had us running around town, cutting, bagging, and labelling. Thankfully they'll all complete now though. Then early Thursday morning (3am) we arrived at the airport for a fun-filled two hours of kennel assembly, and pallet loading for the Kusko. Hugh only just made his flight at 5:30. I drove the first team home to Whitehorse and Hugh will have to continue with his Kusko adventures....



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