The Alpine Creek Excursion (ACE) Race Dec. 7-8 was the first of the year, as usual, and while a less competitive event than those later in the season, it's nothing to take lightly. Teams race each other for 65 miles out from the start, camp at a lodge, and enjoy a 'fun run' 65 miles back the next day. There were 27 teams off the start and 24 finishers. Most teams consisted of one musher and up to 16 dogs, although a tandem category has been allowed featuring 2 mushers per sled. Kristy and her husband Andy ran one large sled together with a 16 dog team, taking 2nd in tandem and 12th overall after 7 hrs 29 minutes. Anna generously opted to give friend and kennel handler Treven a chance to run a solo team, and Seeing Double Team 2 finished 10th in 7 hours 20 minutes. Anna enjoyed running trail support on the snow machine and closely observing how the teams moved along. Speaking of the trail, it was really good the whole way! Snow was deep, 6-8 feet off the established trail with a good base to the track itself. Winds picked up a bit (18-20mph) but temps were fairly mild (low to mid 20s F, -6 to -3 C). All participants, dogs included!, were pleased with the event.
Next up was the Eureka Lodge 156 held Dec. 17-18. Each solo musher runs a 12-dog team from an available pool of 18 dogs. Mushers were slated to run 48 miles, could stop and adjust their running dog team from their pool (something unique to this event), and then run 30 miles, each over 2 days. Day 1 went as planned, with Anna coming in 3rd and Kristy 4th in a field of 8 after less than eleven hours on the trail (including stop/rest time). Day 2, however, only consisted of the first 48 miles (the latter 30 impacted by safety concerns and some trail grooming equipment). Thus the 156 ended up being a 126, still a hearty distance for 2 days. Seeing Double maintained their positions with Anna finishing 3rd and Kristy 4th. It was much colder than the ACE Race, easily dipping down to 0F (-18C). But there was ample snow and the remote scenery was beautiful! The single track trail made passing teams particularly tough, and the additional 1,000 feet of elevation navigating the Belanger Pass is always an exhilarating challenge. But again, Seeing Double felt it was a great event and a good finish for their teams.
The Knik 100 was next on the calendar for early January, but trail conditions on the go/no go date were such that organizers had to cancel. Of course Murphy's Law, or maybe Santa, dumped a bunch of snow on the region after that. So while that race still won't be held, the twins can again run their dogs directly out of the kennel without having to travel for training runs - a big win. They're well on track to exceed their goal of over 3,300 miles per dog by the time Iditarod gets here!
Next up competitively are the Willow 300 (Jan 30 - Feb 2) and the Tug 150 (Feb. 15). We'll be back with another update after those races, and then it's time to gear up for the big one.