Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

This is a forum for general discussion of dogsled racing, with a special focus on Alaska, and is open to all. It is expected that this area will see the most activity during the months leading up to, and during the annual Iditarod sled dog race. Pictures from races can be posted here. Hosting is provided by the Bering Strait School District (BSSD), and the area is open all year. Care to be one of our volunteer moderators? Contact us!

Moderators: mira, mamamia, fladogfan, txbennett, libby the lab, sc-race-fan

Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby fladogfan » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:19 am

Hey there AUK, love the beginning, looking forward to more of your adventures.
All my children have four feet and fur.
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby elsietee » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:00 pm

Great stories! Look forward to hearing more.
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elsietee AT ponyhill DOT org
Repotted english person in the Sierra foothills, CA
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby Another UK Fan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:11 am

Thank you for the feedback - it's great to share! So sorry that the next bit has taken so long to get to the board.

Part 2 -

So far, so good.

The first stretch was straight and even, allowing time to adjust to a new world of balance, speed and direction. Then there was a big bend to the right. After lots of wobbling and heavy braking and 'being brave' we were through to the next straight stretch. Rohn sped away to check the trail ahead. In seconds I heard the team behind me barking. A quick look back caused a very big wobble, bringing my concentration right back to my team who amazingly held us steady and straight.

The team behind were stuck in the middle of the bend. Thoughts flashed through my mind - stop my team and walk back to help? Turn my team around and mush back to help? Almost simultaneously, Rohn returned, spun around to travel parallel and shouted across that he was going help the team behind. 'You're doing well!' he yelled, smiling and surprised. 'Get off the brake! Let them run!' he said, 'And take the next left'. With a perfectly executed 'u' turn he was gone.

The positive effect of a little encouragement is amazing: Rohn said to get off the brake. The lead dogs, looking back at me often, seemed to say the same. I lifted the brake and experienced a surge of power and speed. Liberated from the brake, the dogs leaned into their harnesses with exuberance. It was like a canine 'yipee!'.

We settled into a steady, pacey run on a perfect trail under a bright blue sky, the intense sunshine magnified by the snow. The wilderness was immense, wild and beautiful. For a few moments there was just the dogs and Alaska.

The instruction was to 'take the next left': soon enough, I saw the trail continued straight ahead AND had a trail peeling off to the left. The dogs were running straight ahead at full throttle. It's fine, I reassured myself - these dogs know the training route. They'll just peel off to the left. Well. . . . . . .nope. Almost at the point of no-more-choice, I called 'haw!' One of the lead dogs looked back at me, 'Are you sure?' Again I called 'Haw!', and what fabulous lead dogs they were . . . on that second command they turned their heads back to the trail and took us left. It felt like they were in charge - the communication chain so swift and crisp. Command received for 'left' - check for confirmation - yep it's a left - go left.

The left bend lead to more straight trail with clumps of evergreen trees and bushes trailside here and there. Rohn and the second team caught up and we all stopped for a rest - a doggie tea-break.

The dogs were on their backs wriggling in the snow, then shaking if off, darting around each other in play and I couldn't resist joining in. The four of them piled into me for fuss and fun and we played and laughed before enjoying a time of rest and quiet.

It was all going beautifully. No more surprises could possibly be in store . . . . oh yes, they could.

To be continued.. . . . .
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby Another UK Fan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:13 am

Here's the team on the tea-break.
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby fladogfan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:55 am

You tell an exciting story! :o What will happen next??
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby Another UK Fan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:07 am

Thanks fdf - am writing up the next bit now. It was just one day - ONE day - training and sledding and so much happened!

The way the story is unfolding you'd think I'd run the whole Iditarod, which is absurd. :roll:

If this much can happen in one day, how many stories have played out on the trail untold?!! :D :o :? :D
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby Another UK Fan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:14 am

Here's three of the four dog team.
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby Another UK Fan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:21 am

Part 3

While the dogs were resting after play and snacks there was a bit more training.

A very important thing was learned right at the start of the tea break when I stopped the team. Rohn ran up, lifted the snow hook from where I'd placed it and said firmly 'No. Not like that'. What with all the balance and co-ordination challenges come my way, I hadn't thought much about the snow hook. We'd trained to use it. Isn't it always the way that training is only complete when applied? I'd applied it as art and now learned it is definitely science.

Just throwing it into the snow is not enough. As it sank a long way down in the very soft snow trailside I wondered how exactly this was going to hold the team. Sure, it looked very pretty . . . but, but. That's as far as my thought processes got because Rohn was there so fast. He showed that I was right to doubt the effectiveness of the snow hook. Hurrah! And then showed how to use it so it does its job - by stamping it into the ground and testing the security by pulling the gangline. Double hurrah! It's so embarrassing. I've been an Iditarod fan for years and yet this most basic of safety actions escaped me.


Relaxed and rested, our trail journey resumed. All was well. I was feeling more stable on the sled, more able to stop and secure the team, assured in our communications and very confident all round in these four amazing athletes: this was all to be tested more quickly than anyone could imagine.
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby fladogfan » Sat Dec 22, 2018 1:04 pm

Another UK Fan wrote:
If this much can happen in one day, how many stories have played out on the trail untold?!! :D :o :? :D


Too many!
That is why I always like when someone -- Sebastian -- follows or rides in the back of the pack to give their stories.

But I'm sure the front and mid-pack have theirs also.
All my children have four feet and fur.
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Re: Iditarod 2018 - volunteer tales

Postby sc-race-fan » Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:27 am

Great writing! I feel like I was there on the runners with you. My memory drifts back to my "run" with Tangles dogs a few years ago in England. Not on snow, but with a 3 wheeled cart with hand brakes. Every time, I remember it, I become fearful/amazed with the power of just 4 dogs and can not imagine a team of 16 on the Iditarod trail. You have added a "need to do" activity when and if I ever get to Alaska. Keep writing, it's just a few short months to this years race and you are getting my trail juices reawakened.
Proud PaPa of the triplet litter; Aidan (B), Bailey (G), and Cameron (B). Cameron is on top in picture; Bailey, of course, is the bowhead!!
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