The night of December 17, Greg and I stayed up late to prepare for my first 100 mile race in Two Rivers. When we woke up in the morning, Scully had another huge gash in her side. I told Greg that I’d miss the race so that we both could take her to the vet. He said that he’d take her and I should go ahead and run the race. I should have taken her to the vet and miss the race.
8:30am on the morning of the race we put the dogs in the truck and drove to the race start, the Valley Cafe in Pleasant Valley. I had twelve dogs in the truck; two of them, Rena and Foxtail, were my neighbor’s. I was somewhat nervous about running 12 dogs because I’ve only been running 10 dogs at a time and 12 dogs means extra power.
At 9:45 the bib draw started. The bib draw is draw to see who goes first. I drew #18 and I wanted to go last, so I switched with #31. The race began at 11:10am (this is when #1 left); Since I was last, I left at 12:10pm.
I knew from the start that my dogs were not performing well. So much for being worried about running 12 dogs. My dogs were moving slowly– but things were okay. I passed two teams and then stopped to fix a tangle. I let the two teams pass me, and from then on my run was a disaster. 4 miles into the run Higgs had diarrhea. 10 miles into the run Higgs was vomiting and had diarrhea. Since the first part of the race occurred near the trails by my house, I thought of mushing home to drop off Higgs. I’m not sure why I didn’t chose this option. Instead I decided to continue on and that I’d drop Higgs at the 27 mile road crossing. I mistakenly thought that it would take me the same amount of time to get home as it would be to get to the road crossing. Furthermore, I knew I was lagging behind and didn’t want the people waiting for me at the road crossing to have to wait for me and wonder where the hell I was.
My team usually travels around 10 miles an hour. I turned on the GPS to see how fast we were going and we were traveling at a rate of 6 miles an hour. Ugh! This was going to be a long day. We traveled along well known trails and I needed to turn my team around several times because the dogs wanted to go their “usual” route and not where I told them to go. I stopped the sled every 10 minutes or so to fix a tangle or to switch dog positions. One of the problems was that Foxtail, my neighbor’s dog, was a total maniac and he overpowered my dogs– which created many tangles. I tried a zillion leader combinations (Duke & Frankie; Duke & Rena; Duke & Chez; Rena & Chez; Rena & Frankie; Rena & Levi; Levi & Frankie; Levi & Chez; Levi & Duke)– but my leaders weren’t leading well or keeping the line tight. Double Ugh!!!
A little while before I reached the road crossing, while I was on the river, I passed a section of open water. This was a little nerve-racking because there was a huge hole in the river and the trail was only 10 feet away from the moving water. When I reached the road crossing I asked if I could drop Higgs. It was an “illegal drop” and could cost me the race (i.e., be disqualified), but it didn’t matter– I wasn’t here to win :) In fact, if Greg had been at the road crossing, instead of taking Scully to the vet, I would have scratched right there. I even considered just mushing home, but stupidly, I continued on for another 5 hours of tangles, slowness, and more tangles. I reached Angle Creek at around 8:30pm and Greg was waiting for us. It took us over 8 hours to run 50 miles. Note, the fasted team ran 50 miles in around 4 hours! All of my dogs were exhausted, except for Foxhound who wanted to run with a “real” team. There was no way I was going to continue the race, and anyway, I was disqualified because I had a 15 minute penalty for dropping off Higgs and I needed to arrive at Angle Creek before 8pm.
We fed and souped the dogs, hung out for a while until all of the other mushers left Angle Creek and packed up the StinkyPups. While we were bringing the dogs to the truck I heard a cough. I realized why my dogs weren’t performing well– they were all sick with kennel cough. This made sense. The previous week I had taken my neighbor’s dog for a test run. Two of these dogs were recently pulled from the pound, which means they were probably sick.
We headed home, picked up Higgs at the Pleasant Valley Store, and arrived home at around 12:30am. We put all of the StinkyPups away, checked their feet, gave them rubs and kisses and went to bed.