photo by Gail Palmer Perrin

Friday, March 11, 2011

The U.P.

I love the start of this race. Thousands of people converge on the main street of Marquette Michigan on a Friday night to cheer us on . Something about the atmosphere that really gets me going, I honestly feel like a rock star when I`m in that starting chute. After you get on your way for approx 30 miles people are gathered in small groups with bon-fires blazing and cow-bells jingling. In that first 30 miles, I must have high fived 500 people...awesome.
 The trail this year was sketchy at best, lotsa gravel and ice and even a stretch of asphalt. It`s going to be a long time I think before that awful grinding sound still in my head will go away. Plastic had to be changed on trail, otherwise you would have ground the aluminium down making your runners virtually useless. There was a particuliar section of road going into Grand Marais from Wetmore that was pretty much glare ice. It was tough to watch my team struggle for grip, a few times some of the dogs would go down and each time I would just cringe at the thought of injury. After awhile the dogs had enough and proceeded to climb up the snowbank which was approximately five feet high. At one point I had actually manouvered the sled to also ride on top of the bank.....well you can probably imagine how that was working out...not good. The bush itself had a fair amount of snow. The bush trail consisted of a single snowmobile track that twisted through the trees.  It was important that the team remained on this track, if they stepped off it they would be up to their ears in snow.Some of the corners were quite sharp and a number of times my team would over shoot and I would find myself in a difficult situation to turn a twelve dog string around to get back on track. Many of these corners I had to tilt my sled to prevent it from hitting a tree and also to help keep my rear end dogs out of the deep stuff.
 Mother Nature made this trail somewhat undesirable but after the race there was a post meeting. In the meeting it was discussed how the trail could be improved and what resources could be used to help make it so.
 The dogs were awesome. The musher well....I underestimated this race. The week-end previous, I ran a pretty tough 120 in Kearney. Michigan can be a very fast race. Going into this race one needs a dog team thats healthy, happy and well conditioned. I went into this race thinking I could just blast my way through and I was wrong. I am not wishing to come up with excuses nor do I wish to take anything away from the Winner of this race, all I`m saying is, I learned a lot this race. Next year I will go with a better rested team and an attitude that shows respect for this course. Congratulations to Ryan Anderson, he ran this race brilliantly. I was awed at the speed he generated on the last leg, wow!

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