Friday, December 30, 2011

Race essentials and a lengthy discussion about plastic

While gathering up the necessary final items for my races this season, it occurred to me to write a blog post about all that goes into even one mid-distance race. All the dogs' harnesses must be marked with reflective tape 12 inches by 1 inch. Mushers must carry required gear that will basically give them enough provisions to last one night should they get lost or otherwise stranded out in the cold; this gear includes basic survival gear: an axe; snow shoes; arctic rated sleeping bag (mine is rated negative 30 from Cabela's); rations of food for yourself and your dogs for one day; first aid kit; knife; cable cutters; compass; survival kit which includes waterproof matches or a lighter, fire starter and an emergency blanket.

And that's nothing compared to what Iditarod mushers must prepare for and carry!

One thing that is absolutely essential is a top quality headlamp, especially for a race like the Midnight Run, which is primarily run in the dark throughout the night. If you are looking for a super bright, handy beam of light to part the darkness, check out the Princeton Tec Extreme headlamp. Out of all of my headlamps (and I admit I have more than my share) this one is by far the brightest, lightest and most handy.

Another thing every musher needs is an efficient, experienced and upbeat handler. Someone patient and willing to stand out in the cold - serious cold - for hours waiting for their musher to come in. And the "upbeat" part is paramount! I am super fortunate to have one of the best little ladies I could ever hope to have helping me out at the Midnight Run this season. I can't wait to write a blog post all about her...soon!

Lately, my quest for adequate runner plastic for my new sled (which I purchased last summer) led to quite a discussion thread amongst friends on Facebook. See, the runners of each sled are like skis; they're unlike skis, however, in that the plastic can be changed. Plastic is rated differently depending on the climate conditions a musher runs on. There are also different types or brands of plastic to fit different types of runners.

It's quite complicated, and I literally found my head swimming during a recent discussion. This is a picture of the bottom rear view of my runner:

This thread went on for a long time....
....and on...and on...

...and on...

...until finally, someone asked me to archive the discussion thread. it is! 

That is the gist of the conversation, which finally came to a wonderful conclusion by none other than Troy Groeneveld, owner of Ten Squared Racing, where I buy 99% of my gear.

Thank you, Troy, for clearing that up for all of our inquiring minds!

I am so grateful for all of the essentials provided by a small but mighty cast of supportive friends this season. They have helped with dog jackets to keep the doggies warm at our checkpoint (thank you, Audrey and Dennis), my outstanding headlamp and snowshoes (Dennis), monetary donations, meat not suitable for human consumption,  dog booties (Sherry), mechanical help (Chris) and most importantly, moral support! Special thanks to the random person who handed me cash at a recent speaking engagement with an encouraging, "good luck to you and the dogs this season." I am continually amazed and grateful for the generosity of strangers.

The dogs and I leave for our first race in just a few days. We'll be heading back up to the U.P. to train for a couple days on my new sled before our 42 mile race on January 7. Stay tuned, and as always...

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