Everyone keeps asking for a report on our race yesterday so I figured it would be easiest to post it here.
We want to say thank you to the community and to our sponsors for coming our in such a great way to show Caleb and our team the support. We were overwhelmed by all of the kind encouragement before and during the race. As many know, Caleb reluctantly made the call on the return trip to withdraw from the race. Here are the details. Caleb and I spent the month of January training and racing with Seavey Kennels. The plans for our team here to be trained in our absence were not followed through with. “We kept other’s vineyard. But our own vineyard we have not kept.” Before I left alaska I told Mitch that our team had virtually zero miles in January and asked how we might prep the min just a month for the 100 mile race. He did, when pushed, give me a training regimen for them, but said: “My first and best answer is to withdraw from the race.” That first and best advice was not headed. Caleb is to be commended. He trained the dogs six days a week in gradual increments throughout the month. My knee is awaiting surgery so I was of very little help. Caleb’s efforts were herculean. And I am very proud of him.
Caleb chose the younger ten dogs for the race. One of them was two years old that we had purchased a few months ago. The vets found a heart murmur and we opted to take their counsel and not run him. So Caleb started the race with 9.
The temps reached 30F yesterday and It was obvious that we were not up to even last year’s pace when Caleb arrived in the checkpoint. He arrived with one dog in basket (she was overweight) and dropped her. I asked him then if he wanted to scratch. But the temps were projected to drop and it was hoped with a few hours rest the dogs would regain their vigor.
The temps remained in the upper 20s as he left the Checkpoint for the return trip and there was no pep in their step.
Mushing veteran Larry Murphy was running a safety checkpoint and went out to check on Caleb. He later told me that Caleb was running every hill just to keep the team moving. He asked Caleb if he wanted to scratch. Caleb said no.
Larry wisely counseled, “You're a couple miles from the safety station on the road. There are a couple really big hills. See how they perform other those hills and then make the call.
When Caleb pulled into the roadside safety station he wisely decided to withdraw. When I arrived to pick them up in the dog truck, Caleb was- as one would expect- very frustrated.
I want to say to everyone asking, what I said to him.
“Caleb, you did not fail. The team failed. And the team failed because I set them up for failure.
I should have decided in January to withdraw from the 100. And when I asked you last week if you wanted to drop to the 30, it should not have been a question but a statement. And I should have insisted you take the veterans instead of the younger dogs.
This isn't your fault or the dog's fault.
This failure is squarely on me. You made the right choice in withdrawing and I am proud of you and the team. You put in a massive amount of work this month and showed great work ethic and character. This is on me. I'm proud of you.”