Aurora 50/50: Day 2

We had such a good time on Day 2 of the race! I was more confident the dogs could handle the distance, it stopped snowing about two hours into the race (it had been snowing almost non-stop since Friday), the sky cleared up, and a good time was had by all, mushers and dogs alike. The race started an hour earlier on Sunday, which meant we were able to complete the whole run in daylight, which is always nice. I really enjoyed the race trail. Once it stopped snowing, I was able to look about and soak in the scenery. It is really gorgeous out in the Big Lake swamps. The trail followed a part of the old Iditarod trail, a fun, twisty track that winds through lakes and beautiful snow covered birch forest until it drops into the long straight section lines that run through the Susitna River drainage.

Sunday's Race Roster:

* had never run 52 miles before this weekend

The dogs I had concerns over after Day 1, Ruby & Goofy, seemed fine in the morning. I let Ruby run around the dog lot before I loaded her and didn't observe any signs of soreness, just her regular goofy antics. Goofy still seemed a little tired, but then almost pulled my arm off on the way to the dog truck, so I figured he was fine. The dogs were a little more toned down off the starting line on Day 2. After about 15 miles, they warmed up and started rolling. After 20 miles we hit the slog on the section lines-big snowmachine highways with terrible churned up trail, and after 25 miles, Flathorn Lake, which had blown in and Cim had broke in by dog team just that morning. They powered through it all awesomely. Not as awesomely as the Redington & Berkowitz teams, those dogs were impressive to watch as they steamrolled though the sloppy trail, but great for what we have been doing :) Ruby was the super star of the team this weekend. She is so incredibly driven. Head down, working hard, no matter trail condition or incline. There are some STEEP hills on the Iditarod trail! Great training for the dogs; we don't have any hills quite that steep on our local trails. Fritz got demoted from lead and had to watch his brother Nils lead the team with Ruby from back in swing. 52 miles is the longest these boys have ever gone in their life, so I let them each get a turn. Goofy did even better on Day 2 than Day 1. I think he is getting back into the groove of pacing himself for long distances again. Buddy did better Sunday too. Vinnie & Sneezy got tired. The rest were as steady and awesome as they were the day before. Out of 20 teams that started the race, 16 finished. We finished in 15th place overall.

The front runners can of course be congratulated on their wins & fine looking teams, but I'd like to extend a special congratulations to my friend Mary Helwig, who took home the red lantern and the accomplishment of completing her very first race with dogs from her very own kennel. Good job Mary!  And a BIG BIG THANK YOU! to Aurora Dog Mushers Club for organizing and hosting the race. I'm on the board for Aurora so am well aware of how much work went into putting it on, from paperwork, parking lot plowing, to putting in trail, and I am so appreciative of everyone's hard work. Sled dog races can not happen without volunteers! It's fun to follow the mushers, but be sure to thank and congratulate the race organizers & volunteers as well. They work so hard to make these events happen. You can check in with Aurora Dog Mushers via their website and Facebook: http://www.auroradogmushers.net/Aurora_Dog_Mushers/HOME.html  and  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aurora-Dog-Mushers-Club-Inc/170131633016136

Some info about the dogs I took:  FRITZ, NILS and PETE are brothers and all lead dogs. They are former Rondy dogs and are trying their hand at distance this season. Their other brother, Fox, is a lead dog for our neighbors down the road. SNEEZY is a half-brother of these boys (Sire is Cowboy). VINNIE and VICTOR are brothers. Victor ran with me last year, Vinnie is new to distance. I have their other brother, Vader, as well (he was left at home to lead the other 9 dogs who didn't get to run the race on a run today). I tried to get Dad to give me their sister Vixen so I could have the whole set, but it didn't go over :)  RUBY is a half-sibling (sire: Demon) to the V litter, so is MAJOR. BUDDY is out of Echo and Pebbles, which means he is GOOFY's cousin. ROBBER is a Kozy (Kozelskiy of Anadyr) puppy.

Some interesting Siberian history I learned recently: All Siberian Huskies in existence today can be traced back to one of three males (Tserko, Smoky or Togo) on the sire line. Maternally, to one of four females on the dam line. Our kennel is probably one of the only kennels today that still has dogs going back to every single line. Kozy goes back to Tserko.

If you are interested in pedigrees, check out ped.anadyr.com. You can type in any dog's name, click "breeding info" and trace the pedigrees. I know a lot of people following my racing this season have relatives to my race dogs. Suzanne in England, for example, has Buddy's uncle. Major's sister lives in Finland, and Fezzik's mother came from the Netherlands.

I remembered to bring my phone and was able to snap a few shots along the race trail. Don't think the photos don't do the landscape justice...
The NOME sign, 15 miles from the Aurora Dog Musher's clubhouse. Arrows point toward Nome and the sign reads: "Nome 1049 miles"
The sky began to clear. Sleeping Lady visible ahead.
Headed towards Flathorn Lake.
Cottonwoods. Sleeping Lady in the distance again.
Overflow on the lake.
Having fun. Dogs looking good 30 miles in.
Fantastic colors in the swamp. The trail runs though the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge.
Looking back at a great day. 

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