Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bogus Creek 150

The Bogus Creek 150 Sled Dog Race is less than two hours from its projected completion. At the just-past-half-way point, Henry’s niece Angela Denning-Barnes was in fifth place, about 45 minutes behind the leader. There are 13 mushers and dog teams running the Bogus this year. Angela is one of three women mushers in the race. She has trained hard for this, and Dutch and I would love to see her win.

The Bogus is a completely different kind of race than the Kuskokwim 300. Because K300 is a qualifier for the Iditarod, it is organized like Iditarod: mushers must take complete care of themselves and their teams with no outside assistance. Dropped dogs are left with the checkers at the checkpoints and flown back to Bethel as part of the race’s organization.

The Bogus Creek 150, on the other hand, is a handlers’ race. Each musher has a team of handlers who follow the race on snowmachine and get to the checkpoints ahead of their musher to take any dogs the musher wants to drop. At the 75-mile turnaround point on Bogus Creek just above Tuluksak, there is a four hour mandatory rest. The handlers get there ahead of time and set up tents, cook dog and musher food, and take complete care of the team while the musher rests. The snowmachines are pulling sleds behind them with dog kennels lashed on to carry the dropped dogs. It would not be possible to run the Bogus 150 without a team of handlers.

Angela’s handlers are divided into two crews. Her husband Sean and their friend Jenny are the camping crew. They went up to Bogus Creek the day before the race started and set up a wall tent with a small wood stove in it. They have food to prepare for her and the team, and bales of straw for the dogs to rest on. They will break down the camp after Angela leaves and pack it home.

Henry and Joan are Angela’s trail crew. They are on snowmachines pulling sleds, and will be at each checkpoint prior to Angela’s arrival, in case she needs to drop dogs. The Bogus 150 is a ten-dog race, and she had all ten on the team when she left the four-hour rest/halfway point at 4:32 this morning. She dropped three dogs at the next checkpoint. Three is a lot to drop at once; I hope she is not having any illness problems with the team. Racing sled dogs get stress diarrhea with attendant dehydration sometimes; it happens more easily if they are poor feeders to start with. Henry has always taken pride in the fact that his dog teams are good eaters and have “good butts” when they race (meaning no diarrhea).

Dutch and I will be heading to the finish line down on the river in a few minutes to be a cheering squad for her. Hopefully, she has passed a few teams and will finish in the top three. More to come…



Blogger Ken said...

Wow! Your dogs are beautiful! I know my Anna was always the best dog in the world for me - but I can see how special these friends are for you.

What do you feed them? I've teamed up with a holistic vet who makes her own dog and cat foods made from human quality ingredients. She ships all over the USA - you might want to try some?

Good luck


Tuesday, January 30, 2007 5:01:00 PM  

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