Sledding from the musher's perspective.

J and I have been playing around getting some of his videos uploaded, to show what it looks like from his end. We're still working on getting the six dog team he ran at the Wild Dog Derby up and running, but in the meantime, here are links to a couple of other videos.

Firstly, the first SHCV race of 2012, at Wellsford. Its an early morning daylight heat, so you can see the dogs and the trail and the surrounding bush relatively well. You might notice some of the different markers along the trail. A blue square means "this way", a red square means turn, (the direction is given by the side of the trail that the square is posted on), and a yellow means caution. You'll also be able to hear J encouraging the dogs and giving commands - he doesn't use the traditional "gee" and "haw" but sticks to "leffff" and "riiiight". Because this was the first race of the season, the dogs weren't terribly fit and you can see how they drop off towards the end.

This second one, from the Goldseeker's race of 2012, is also a morning heat and you can see the sky getting lighter as the race continues. Competing in Australian winters, to achieve the temperature that suits the dogs best requires races to run after dark, so torches are essential. You'll be able to see the start chute with the timer counting down on the left hand size - the dogs LOVE the beeping and take off like the blazes!

Depending on how many days the race meet runs for, J and the team might run two or three different heats, and their placing is then based on their accumulative times. As well as winning an individual category at a particular meeting, a team can also accumulate points for club awards at the end of the season. 

As you can probably tell from the videos, our dogs are not world class runners, and we often don't place. Traditionally, the last team in wins a "red lantern" award - for a lovely explanation of why, read this entry in Karen Ramstead's blog about her completion of the 2001 Iditarod in Alaska. Karen was one of the few teams that year running Siberian Huskies (most teams racing faster cross breeds), and raced for 2 weeks (living mostly outdoors in the Arctic for the duration) to complete the race - a goal that had taken many years, and had been a driving force since she'd been forced to scratch in her first attempt in 2000. Her attitude of pride in her achievements matches some of the thoughts J and I have about our dogs running. With three dogs who've been rescued from pounds, two in terrible condition, its not about winning, but more about getting out there and giving the dogs an amazing time! We're very proud of J's collection of red lanterns, because they represent wonderful experiences with our dogs every time.