Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tobacco Trail 2012 - Part I - "Pre Race Madness"

Wow, Tobacco Trail is over and what great experience it was for the kids and us! And while I am still digesting our adventure, the preparations for Finnmarkslopet are already in the full swing! 

But I would like to re-live the past race and share it with you, before we move on to our next journey. It will be split to several separate posts. Hope you´ll enjoy it!


Lists with zillions of charts, ziplock bags, fleece dog blankets, chocolates, batteries and an odd mixture of human and dog equipment is laying around in piles all over the house. The kitchen table is covered and if you need to sit for a brief moment and enjoy a quick cup of coffee, you have to shift a pile form a chair and make a few centimeters of space among notes that cover the table.

In the days prior our departure to Kiruna, we ran the dogs, tried to feed the skinny ones up by cooking them tasty fatty meals three times a day, and packed, planned, and made a lot of yummy food for them for the race. The temperatures hit the -30s, with the record of -37,6°C one day. In those days, it was hard to thaw out all the meat that we needed to cook and pack and also just feed daily to the entire kennel, so this is what we ended up doing (below). Buckets and tubs of meat surrounded the living room fireplace, as well as our bathroom. It´s a crazy life, this dog musher´s life! :)

If you wanna talk to handler Steve (aka the snack master) you know where to find him these days, from morning till night, unless he took a quick break to run the yearlings.

Steve heading out with his team.
In picture from front to back, l to r: Inuk, Chip, Joey, Sparky and Iceman.

Yes, you´d find him standing by the band-saw, making dozens of chicken snacks, that need to be all the same weight and must have an ideal shape for a tired sled dog to easily chew on the race trail.

Chicken snacks - fat and very tasty for the long distance sled dog.

We cut more snacks from our great sponsor and long time partner of Kipp d´Amundsen Kennels and Team -TROLL HUNDEFOR, and along with fat snacks, place them all in the overloaded freezers.

I highly recommend these hi-energy, very tasty snack sausages from Troll.
You can buy them at Troll´s webshop - and mention Jachym and Katerina sent you :-)

Rebecca having fun cutting up the high energy snacks

Fat and kibble snacks - our own little invention :-)
another batch of trail snacks - according to our own recipe ;-)
In the rare moments of not having greasy fingers, we sew onto race gear and clothing patches with logos of our sponsors.

Everybody is steadily getting mad.

And while the girls have full hands of serious hard work creating different tasty variations of snacks in the kitchen,

the boys are goofing around, drinking (who knows what - from pink cups!) and feasting on the dogs´ snacks!!! Or have they already gone completely mad after cutting up dozens of pounds of meat??!

At any rate, Jachym looks happy with his job. At least he smiles for the camera :)

And eventually, all graduates into the DROP BAG DAY. Then all the stuff, carefully gathered, made, cut, checked over and over again, ends up in tidy piles and within an hour, all is stacked into the drop bags.

The trail snacks

The checkpoint meat meals

The various types of lovingly prepared trail fat snacks and other yummies

All the kibble

Everything ends up in these super gear/drop bags, made by Louise Russel from www.dogbooties.com

The food drop day was warm so we waited for the evening cool off to take everything out from the freezers and pack it into respective checkpoint bags.

As a Facebook friend wrote - logistics is perhaps the most important part of (the success).
Thankfully, I am a fairly organized person and have a handler crew with a sense for organization too! With all the joking aside, it is very important to have all neatly packed and ready to just reach and grab at the checkpoints.

And this is how the checkpoint drop bags get labeled - with name of musher, bib number and checkpoint name.

Checkpoint bags getting filled up with dog equipment such as booties, dog coats, blankets, etc.

And then all the other stuff gets loaded into the truck - food for the humans, meat and kibble for the kids for the way, the sled with mandatory gear in it, clothes, and tones of other stuff.

And finally, the departure day is here.

To be continued... look for the next post!

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