Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race

A portion of my run in the Tahquamenon Race

*UPDATE: just after I published this post, I realized my friend mentioned in it, David Gill, won 3rd place in the UP200! WAY TO GO DAVID!!! This is definitely your year, my friend!

Mackinaw Bridge connecting the lower peninsula to the upper peninsula of Michigan

What a whirlwind!

Lake Michigan shoreline along Route 2 - Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The dogs and I headed up to the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race for our long-awaited first race. We ran 13 miles on Friday before the race, 28 miles on Saturday for the race, and then 8 1/2 miles on Sunday after the race - about 50 miles in three days.

Ten dogs and I on a 13 mile "warm up" pre-race run

For the first time that I can remember, I never wanted to come in from a run. Even after nearly four hours on the trail, I didn't want it to end. The dogs ran like a well-oiled machine, settling into a groove and an even paced trot. We started out in snow squalls and fierce wind, but half way through the run, the sky opened up, and I could literally envision myself being on the runners all day.

As I raced, I thought of my friend Jodi Bailey who was racing on the Yukon Quest trail. My little 28 mile race was such a dinky little thing in comparison. And yet, this is where it starts: with a love for the trail, being in the woods in the snow with a bunch of dogs.

Along one of my favorite stretches of the Tahquamenon race

I am happy to report we finished the 28 mile Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race with a respectable time of 3 hours, 36 minutes and 46 seconds.

The team catching up to a musher in the distance

And then, in one weekend, winter is over.

As I write, the temperature outside is about 45 degrees. All the snow around the Ranch is nearly melted. The Jack Pine 30 - the race I had planned for this weekend - I've decided not to run because even in Marquette, Michigan temperatures soared to an unseasonable 55 degrees this past week, which deteriorated trails to dirt in some spots and glare ice in others.

What's happened to winter?

Here are some more photos from the Great North Woods - the land that I love:

Tangled up in red

My friend David Gill coming out of the chute at the start of the 12 dog race at Tahquamenon. At the time of this writing, David is finishing up his first UP200 race and doing well despite crazy trail conditions that have left several mushers hurt and their sleds banged up. Go David!

I could write more, but I need to put this entry - and myself - to bed! Good night, and until next time...

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