Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A mushing weekend

Finally, I've managed to upload the pictures from our weekend of racing. There were a lot of pictures, but not as many good ones as I had hoped. I was very busy, and turned the camera over to Brandon's girlfriend, Sandy, and she did her best to snap a few photos, but had a lot of trouble with the lighting. Taking pictures of things in the snow on a very bright and sunny day is extremely challenging!

The exciting news was that my younger son, Alex, got his first professional win! He's been racing in the pro class for maybe 3 years now, and he usually comes in somewhere 'in the money' and has won a couple of small "fun runs" where there is no purse, but this was the first time he got first place in a big-time race. The competition in the 6-dog class at this race was huge, and there was a racer there that nobody ever beats. EVER. This guy is amazing, and when he shows up, everybody starts racing for second place. Except this time.

Let me try to describe the scene. Saturday, after the first day of racing, Alex was only 6 seconds behind this other guy. Races are two-day combined times. Sunday, teams left the starting line one minute apart, in order of finish. That meant the guy in first place went first, and then one minute later, Alex went. If Alex crossed the finish line less than 54 seconds after the other guy, Alex would win. The way the course was laid out, we got to see the teams pass through this gorgeous apple orchard about two miles before the finish. There were a lot of teams competing, but I was totally focused on watching for the first two teams to cross through the orchard.

The other guy came through, and the minute I saw him, I clicked my stopwatch and held my breath waiting for Alex. When I saw him, I immediately clicked the watch and checked the time. Exactly one minute - which means Alex had not gained any time. But he hadn't lost any time, either. I knew the last couple of miles of the course were mostly uphill, with the last climb quite steep, and I also knew Alex wanted this so very badly. He's pretty athletic, and competitive, so I thought he had a chance.

We all waited for the guy in first place to exit the woods near the finish line. After a bit, the spectators (including me) could see a team coming through the trees. I grabbed my stopwatch again, ready to click the second he crossed the finish line, to see if Alex would cross in less than 54 seconds. The 6 dog team finally emerged from the woods, turning the corner up toward the finish. But it wasn't that other guy - it was ALEX. Oh my good Lord. He was running behind his team, only his hands on the sled, as focused as his dog team. When the trail flattened out, he jumped on the runners, and raised one fist triumphantly in the air. He knew he had won.

I've never seen him so happy. And he deserves it - he told us he ran just about the whole two miles uphill to keep the team moving fast and not having to pull his weight. He not only caught up to the guy by a minute, he passed him by almost another minute. Alex set the weekend course record with that run. He was so excited, and I am so proud of him - not because he won, but because he worked so hard. He wanted this and he went out and made it happen. A thrilling moment that I will not soon forget.


This is Dart, Alex's 5 year old leader. She's contemplating her winning strategy!



Yankee and Doodle (don't laugh at Doodle - he's very sensitive about his name!). They were part of a litter born on the 4th of July (litter mates include Dandy, Liberty and Justice!). They usually run wheel (the ones closest to the sled) on Brandon's open class team, but this race didn't include open class competition because the trail was too curvy and dangerous for the larger teams. Instead, they ran on a 6 dog team, and only 6 miles, which probably seemed like a jog in the park to them!


One of the teams getting hooked up. They get so excited, it usually takes several people to help.


Brandon, joking with officials at the starting line. This is such a friendly sport.



Brandon, getting ready to take his team to the starting line.



Alex's team (except for Jamie), stretching their legs before getting harnessed. Jett, Dart, Major, Legolas, Gimli.


This is big brother giving Alex's dog Jamie a hug for luck.




View of the yard where some of the trucks were parked. There were about 75 teams competing.


The orchard where the teams came through with two miles to go.


Brandon always has a little quiet time with his leaders before the race starts.


One of the pretty views - can you see the dog team?


Brandon and Sandy. They look happy, but bulky. It's always amazing to see all these people without their winter gear - they all look so small!


The Champion! Alex is accepting his award (and the check that goes with it!).


It was a long and tiring weekend, but everybody had a good time. The best thing about this sport is the family-friendliness of it all. Everybody is willing to help everybody else and there are smiles everywhere you look. And I love that my kids are outside when so many other young men (and young women) are sitting on the couch in front of the tv or playing video games. Temperatures ranged from 7-25 degrees over the weekend, and they were outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and loving it. I'm a proud mom - can you tell?




25 comments:

Odette said...

YAY that's so exciting! It's great to see someone accomplish something after trying for so long! It sounds like it was a great weekend!!

Congrats Alex! :)

Joanie said...

Congrats to Alex! What a wonderful weeked for you and your boys!

Under the Influence said...

That is so exciting! Congratulations.

claudia said...

Wow! The way you told that was so exciting! I wish I could see some i=of it (or all of it) in real life! I can tell you are so proud of your kids!

Sue said...

Why wouldn't you be the proud Mama? Sounds like a GREAT weekend!!! yay Alex!!!! and Brandon!!!

Robin said...

congratulations to alex!!! i'm glad you and your sons had such a good weekend, it sounds very exciting.

Scriptor Senex said...

It's great to have someone to be proud of.... well done, Alex.

Just Joni said...

Your photos are wonderful and this looks like such a fun event. Thank you for sharing, I've always been curious about it. Congratulations to your son and for setting the record too, that's really something!

Laura ~Peach~ said...

how totally awesome CONGRATULATIONS ALEX!
Love yankee and doodle they are just too cute and great names!!!!

kim-d said...

WAY TO GO, ALEX--CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR BIG WIN!!!

I, too, loved the way you told this story, ME--I was feeling all nervous for Alex as I was reading. And Dart! OMG, what a beautiful dog. They are all gorgeous, and I LOVE the picture of Brandon taking some time with his dog. Thanks for sharing this whole experience; I look forward to hearing/seeing more.

I have been missing you, though...and, hey, anytime you want to talk, give me a call. Seriously! Hallisicle has the number, or e-mail me and I'll send it to ya!

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Connor's only comment - Alex looks like Brandon.

He's a man of many words.

H

Andrew Scott Turner said...

awesome!

(and way cool you have a dog named Gimli, which is Corrine's dog's name)

Great minds....

Lynn said...

How fun ! I just love seeing dogs doing what they were originally bred for instead of just laying around an empty house all day ! Good work guys and dogs !!!

Becca said...

ROCK ON!!!!!!

(and yes, I am happy to see that North Eastern sledders are as mutty as ours. I have a house-pet sled dog and he howls to say good morning. Makes me laugh)

Reddirt Woman said...

Boy, does that boy look happy!!! Congrats and an "Atta Boy!" to Alex. It sounds like a fun time was had by all and the dogs are beautiful.

You did good with finding something to interest your boys in the outdoor world. They will be a lot healthier for it.

And to top off your day... You've got a surprise gift at my place. Not the biggie, but still a surprise gift. I will need you to e-mail me an address to mail it to, or call Hallie and have her send your address when she sends hers. I hope you enjoy them.

Helen

Midwest Mommy said...

Everytime you write about this I am just amazed. It is just so awesome.

jojo said...

What a weekend!!! So glad you shared it with us...
Beutiful pics ;))

Sarah Laurence said...

I enjoyed your photos very mush. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Congratulations to Alex and his dogs! What an interesting sport. My son has started racing Nordic this year. You do need to embrace winter to survive it. We got a horrible crust on our snow with this last storm; I hope you got all snow. My dog hates it.

Tonjia said...

awesome! Congratulations Alex and his team!

Thanks so much for posting the pictures, this looks like a very exciting sport.

AirmanMom said...

ME...I'm a bit behind reading blogs... these photos are amazing! I'm so glad you enjoyed the weekend! Hey, it's another weekend already. Can't wait to read what you are up to this weekend!

~AM

gin said...

Congratulations!! How exciting!!

Vegas Princess said...

This is amazing! And the way you wrote it, I felt like I was there! How thrilling. Congrats to Alex!!

Mrs4444 said...

Very cool! Happy for him :)

Proud Mom said...

I love reading your blogs, they always make me laugh. But this one was extra special. What a proud moment this must have been.

Barb said...

I just love this whole posts--the dogs, the snow, the family. Congratulations on all of it.