Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Canadian Challenge: Arm Chair Mushing - Qualifying, Predictions

I sit here at a distance, not knowing what the chatter was about once the musher meeting was complete and trail conditions were reported.

I did catch 'wind' of nerves, fast hard trails, lack of snow in places, however that could be almost any year spoken of.

This year there is a big change that makes a difference in what predictions were set previously in my mind.  That is the shaved 70 miles off the trail.   A sprint race is what we are possibly looking at now.
Strategies are changing, and no one is sharing!!
Although I did hear some rumour, but I'll keep those quiet for the time being as I don't want to be the one to spread false information. 
I do sit here twiddling my thumbs excited to see where this rumour leads.

Mushers are the most giving people I have ever met.  You show up at their place and they will wine and dine you, give you the shirt off their back if needed.  BUT you ask what their race plan is, or even training routine, and they turn to stone and become the fiercest competitor out there.

I have spoken of mushers who are looking to qualify at this race.

The Iditarod and the Yukon Quest don't allow just anyone to run their race, you have to in fact be experienced in distance racing. 
In order to enter you must have run two approved races that are a minimum of 300 miles and one that is  150 to 200 miles.  You in fact have a report card that is signed by a race official after you have completed what is required.
The Canadian Challenge is proudly one of the approved races that can be used to qualify.

What this means for the musher is they receive no help at check points from their handlers.  
They make drop bags to be sent on to the check stops just as they would at the 1,000 mile races.  Handlers do nothing to help other than clean up their spot after they have left the check point.
Dogs on a qualifying team, bedded down in straw
Photo Credit: Kandis Riese
In the 2015 race, Laura Neese qualified, sleeping in a bag curled up along side her dogs snuggled into beds of straw while their tug lines still held them to the sled.   No one helped as she massaged each dog, checked feet and bootied each one.  No help to feed each dog, no help of any way from her handlers as they stood patiently to the side waiting for her to leave.

I do not have official word on who is qualifying this year, but last I heard for sure, Jennifer Campeau, Steven Laviolette and Remy Leduc were all using this as a qualifier.
I know Chris Wall and Josh Lichti were also on the list, but nothing is confirmed as of yet.
Apologies to those if I missed anyone, but will do my best to keep everyone up to date.

Start time is still set for 5:00 pm as Gerry Walker leads the race this year leaving from Elk Ridge.

In the meantime.
What are YOUR predictions for top 3??
One of this years superstars
Photo Credit: Jim Williams

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