Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Canadian Challenge: Strategies at Play

Good morning everyone.

The trail was busy last night with lots happening, I almost feel bad for my warm sleep last night, almost.

Gerry was on the move shortly after I signed off.
Taking a look at his tracker history I can see he has been taking long breaks, a schedule that has worked well for him in the past.  His dogs stay fresh and ready to hit the ground running closer to the end.
The front runners are not taking very long breaks between long runs as they head to La Ronge where they will take their mandatory 8 hour rest.
Aaron has recently arrived to take his 8 hours with a 21 mile lead.   He maintained some incredible speeds over night.

There are many race strategies in play on the trail so far.
Working closely with a competitive musher I know how guarded they can be with their secrets.
In fact when I was speaking to most of the mushers before the race many shared some of their plans with me, and not surprisingly instructed me NOT to share  any of this information.

One team that is running this year told me one thing, then went around saying something completely different to his competitors.  Mind games at play here.

There have been many MANY miles in training put on a team before even starting a race.  One musher even proudly stated that they had over 4000 miles so far this year.
For many, with lack of snow and cold, the mileage has been very hard to accumulate and a good handful were saying that this was going to be like a training run.
However watching the race unfold, between the 12 dog and the 8 we can safely assume that 'training' run is no longer in their vocabulary.

There has been one big surprise for me.
Steven Laviolette and his team.
I didn't think he would do as well as he is, and I don't mean that in a negative way.   You see Steven is running Siberians, and they tend to be slower than the Alaskan Huskies that most teams use these days in distance racing.   This does not mean they come in last by any means, however Stevens dogs have never raced before, they are tour dogs, and I just couldn't make any real guesses as to how they would do. I'm sure Steven is having a blast out there, and I also have a feeling he'll walk away hooked on racing.
They are definitely holding their own.
Steve and his Siberians
Photo Credit: Rod A Young

Race Fact:

When a team leaves the starting gate they carry with them some mandatory gear.
They each have a vet book, (the vets ask to see this regularly)
Working headlamp with spare batteries, a knife, an axe and cable cutters. An alcohol cooker, fuel and waterproof matches and or lighter.  A winter weight sleeping bag, one days emergency rations for the musher, one pound of dog food for each dog and two sets of booties for each dog.

Race officials will check to make sure that mushers are still carrying these supplies, and for sure at the end of the race before calling the time, mushers have to show that they still have this gear with them.
Aaron is currently in lead in 12 dog
Photo Credit: Jim Williams

Marcel is currently lead in 8 dog
Photo Credit: Jim Willaims

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