torsdag 27 februari 2014

Håkans' reflections after Amundsen race 2014

Back home and again very impressed with what the dogs have performed at Amundsen Race - 300 km in just over 35 hours, and only around 2,5 hours after the last Husky team! In other words an average speed of 8.4 km / h. in quite heavy trails and too high temperature in the sun.

I have received a great ego boost by reading all the congratulations and happy posts in FB, about what the dogs and I have performed at Amundsen Race - Thank you and please forgive me if you do not recognize my humble personality in a few days

I started with 11 dogs and had predetermined to take out both Arija and Bielka after the first leg ( 88km ) - Geist our youngster, just under two years, was in the team the first two legs in order to get some experinence and to learn how to relax next to other dogs at check points.

The first 35 km on leg two, the dogs ran the fastest I have ever experineced with Samoyeds - they kept a steady ground speed of about 13 km / h, interspersed with repeated tempo increases that sometimes lasted nearly 3 km. I felt I had to brake them down of concerns that they would otherwise become totally out of energy - but as soon as I eased the brake carpet, Corona  started the team at a high speed again .
I had chosen to go out on the route without booties - a misjudgment that I correct after about 35km and about 10km ahead of next CP the high speed that the team had performed resulted in loss of energy and low speed. The last 10km of the leg was very slow so average speed dropped to " modest" 8.1 km / h

After 17 kilometers of mushing we were only 3.5 h after the best swedish Siberian Husky team, and I regretted not having driven the dogs wiser during the leg.

Geist was still in the team during the 6-hour rest period, and this time , he lay down and rested most of the rest. After the rest, he was put out of the team and taken car of by handlers Johannes Klang and Janne Spasic, even Delta was taken out of team when she showed signs of lameness during the last part .

So left in the team for the last 130 km was now 7 dogs - Corona, Birk , Corall , Appa , Etna, Ergo and Deimos . Very surprisingly, we were NOT last team out to  the 70 km long and hilly leg "Storå Brännan 2".
There was an Alaskan Husky team which we had helped to the checkpoint when they got parked  on "the mountain"  the musher of this team had hoped to be able to latch on to us yet another leg to eventually reach the ambitious goal ... - it didn't work out so well for them, and after a few hours of mushing, it was, as usual, just me and the dogs that wound up in the light of the headlamp against the darkness where King Bore a bit unnecessary, had dropped around 3 cm of snow that made the sled slid as Norwegian Olympic ski ... But it did not matter for all 7 dogs struggled valiantly in the hilly trail and we now had a generous driving schedule of 10 hours per leg to reach the target -  the banquet.

At the top, after just over half the distance, a strong southern wind which combined with few warm degrees, had packed fresh snow so the trail down hill towards the end of the leg, was actually quite okay.

Now, we had just over 10 hours left for the remaining 65 km. This felt good, so light of heart, I went to sleep for another 1.5 hour - at the last rest period I had slept for about 2.5 hours ,that is, I had slept totally around 4 hours the last 2,5 day and night.
When I had stretched and put on dry socks and dry shoes I went to the dogs and was delighted that the chill of the night had made the trail harder.

I put booties on the dogs and so we were off again. The first 5 km was uphill and I walked beside the sled and contributed to the team, but very often I had to jump on to the sled since they went to fast for me - it was not appreciated by the dogs when their musher, with over 90 kg continually jumped on to the sled.

The last 20km went over  the lake Ströms Vattudal - I stopped and removed the dog booties so that the dogs would get better traction on the ice ... unfortunately Deimos slipped anyway,  and stretched left foreleg - far too good trimmed claws. After several attempts, I got him in to the sled bag but his patience is at par with my so after a half hour ride, I gave up - I had met my superior. It was clear that Deimos had to go with  the others across the finish line, and we glided gently, majestic, contented , heroic and satisfied ... the final goal in Strömsund - and I thought I heard how the dogs thanking each other for their cooperation while they wondered if the old man on the sled was less heavy a few years ago - proud they were how ever to have completed 3 Poladistans 300, 1 Polardistans 160, Femund 400 and to be able to put Amundsen Race 300 to their credit - and mountain tour in 1800 kilometers I remebered them - but that, they said was vacation dad, but next year we want to run a combo vacation..... But that I will write about another time so I believe I need to cancel the biking tour from Gibraltar this spring.

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