Well, it wasn’t exactly on a dog-sled, as there is still a little summer remaining here, but it did involve being pulled along by dogs, under the watchful eye of a time-keeper.
Every month or so there is a gathering, organised by DPSAY (Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon) and Yukon Brewing Copper Haul Twister League, for anyone who wants to take some of their dogs for a run.
The options for competitors are a bicycle with two dogs pulling, a bike with one dog, or running with one dog. Obviously I wanted the fastest option, keen to enter the two-dog bicycle class.
The races were scheduled for 5pm, so a bit of training was in order in the afternoon. Moe’s bicycle was given a quick service, which consisted of pumping the tyres up, and swapping the brakes over. I’ve come unstuck in a painful fashion before on a bike with the back brake on the right, which is all wrong to me!
Moe got a couple of dogs harnessed up, and attached by ropes to the front of the bike. Any last minute tips, I wondered? “I’ve never tried this before!” she said, “Good luck!” And with that we were off, with Moe and Maible in hot pursuit on the quad!
I managed to stay on the bike down the twisting, dusty driveway, and then out onto the main gravel road. The dogs got in to their stride along the road, and were pretty fast. We managed the left turn where Finn pointed me onto the trail through the forest, and the dogs pulled us along at an easy lope through the trees. Eventually we hit the driveway, and back up to the kennel again. Race training successful!
Moe picked three sled-dogs from the kennel, two fresh ones for me, and one for her. My companions for the race were to be Warrior and Wham. Moe would run with Gromit, and Maible would be running with pet dog Zoli.
At the race start point quite a few people gathered, and we filled in the requisite waivers, and I found that there was only myself and Darryl competing in the two-dog race.
With temperatures approaching the thirties, it was decided that the course for the two-dog bicycle race would be shortened from two miles to one, to avoid overheating the dogs, which are of course much more used to running in temperatures well below freezing.
Darryl was first away in our race, and suitably padded with Finn’s skateboard protection, I was in pursuit a minute later. The course took us through a couple of deep puddles, and then up a slight hill to a creek where we turned around to return.
I got a bit of a scare coming back down the hill, as I was peddling fast and the dogs were pulling hard, and we came round a corner to find a huge truck hurtling towards us. The track was only one vehicle wide, and he had to veer off into the bush. I continued on regardless – I was in a race after all!
I found out later that the truck had been stolen, and was being thrashed about through the forest by the new “owners”! I had been pretty lucky no to get hit.
I finished the race in great time, my dogs pulling through the water with no hesitation at all. Darryl had had a bit of trouble with his at the water, and we weren’t sure who had been the quickest.
There was much entertainment in the rest of the races, with a couple of spectacular falls at the water obstacles. Runners did well too, and Maible and Zoli turned in a great performance.
Results were announced at a BBQ late that evening at another of the competitor’s house, and unfortunately Darryl had just beaten me! Still, second place in my first race sounds like a great result to me. Moe and Maible both did well, Maible finishing third in her class with a fantastic run. We both received gift vouchers to spend at the local deli in town.
What a great afternoon and evening, and thanks to all involved in organising the event. And what a fun introduction to running dogs. I hope to compete again in the September event.
You can see pictures of the event on the Copper Haul Twister blog here.