After all the difficulties getting to the Classic, leaving J at home crook, and then having the Saturday night cancelled due to heat, it was a great relief to get up to the chilly morning air on Sunday.
We started out with 8 dog teams, then 4 and 6 dog teams, and then the 3 and 2 dog teams were up - gulp! My turn!!! Mischa's mummy and HK helped me get Mischa and Czar over to the start chute. We queued for a while and then we were up to the start line. 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1!
Watching that moment that the dogs transform from agitated, bouncing, unpredictable noisey demons, into a smooth, flowing machine, is incredible. After that last beep of the starter, the dogs fall instantly silent as they lunge into their harnesses, and, instead of being restrained or held, they leap forward and pound down the track. The wind whistles past. The scooter wobbles and then runs smoothly.
I was, yet again, impressed with the dogs. Czar's strength, and Mischa's work ethic. She is such a pocket rocket, powering away. Czar runs smoothly next to her, and I can relax, not worrying that he'll stop for a scratch or a toilet break. Before each corner, I would talk to him, watching his ears like giant satellite dishes, spin round to hear me. Some corners were perfect - Czar likes to turn left and easily swung Mischa around those bends. Other corners were a bit more of an effort, calling them repeatedly as we entered the intersection. We flew along. It was exhilarating.
As we reached the 2km mark, I started to scoot along, but I tried to keep the gangline tight, making sure I wasn't overcompensating, letting the dogs do the work. Czar would have dropped off at that point, not cause he was tired, just a bit bored. Mischa's determination to keep going, head down, powering along, would occasionally remind him to focus, and he'd lope with renewed vigour. As we came up to the end of the course, I could see teams ahead of us, but we continued at our steady pace, and couldn't pull up to them. Over the finish line, both dogs were still running steadily. I was delighted with the run. When the times were posted later that night, we had a personal best, 10:17 over 3.7km.
Our Sunday run was much the same - no reverse order, so no excitement of getting passed by faster teams, no tows. Bree's dad helped us out at the start line, single handedly managing both dogs until Chermani and co's mum came to help with Mischa. Again, I was so impressed at Mischa's power, and Czar's steady lope. Even though it was the second race of the weekend and many dogs dropped a little bit of time through tiredness or soreness, we improved, coming in at 10:03 over the same distance.
The two dog class was a big one, with 33 entries, many very competitive racers, including those who'd come from interstate. Although I was really happy with my time, it wasn't enough to put me anywhere near the placings - I came 19th overall, and 13th Sibe home. The best bit about the weekend was that I felt I'd finally gotten over my jinx. No getting lost. No falling off the scooter. To do that on a weekend when I was travelling solo, without J there to remind me about watering or toileting dogs, cooking for one and having to drag myself out of bed on not much sleep, was a great achievement. Now, of course, I know I can do it. But I am really looking forward to J coming along to the next race. Even if I do have to share the trailer bed again.