06 April 2016

Kuusamo Sprint 2016

MY TEAM Miilu, Piitu, Diesel, Nebula

This was the fourth year Kuusamo Sprint was arranged, and I have been there every time.

This year I had some problems before and during the race. Two of our dogs hurt their frontleg. Mora stumbled and fell when running free on our yard and Tete - I don't know how, but she also was limping.

A week before the race I started asking friends for help. My neighbour Timo Jokela lend me a dog called Nebula. He is a three year old male, breeder Sari Ikonen. 

I completely fell in love with that dog. He is like all the best sides of Mora and Miilu combined: happy, open, easy to handle and hard working.

Visiting Star Nebula with Tete - Yes, they are related.

On the race morning I woke up at five. After breakfast I packed the dogs. My husband drove us to Kuusamo, where I left him at his work in Fire Station and drove on to Multasniemi. I had just time to put the dogs out and give them their drinks before mushers meeting at eight.

Happy Ronja in the orange outfit. 

This year in Kuusamo Sprint they had three new things. Also in 4-dog class the distance was 2 x 9 km. There was a longer trip available on Sunday and a children's class on Saturday. That made me really happy, because I got to see my god-daughter Ronja in her first ever dog race. 

My start

My first start was at eleven and my second start was at three. In my team run Miilu and Piitu in the lead, Diesel and Nebula as wheeldogs. After doing the Robur Sprint I was not nervous about the track at all, I just wished my team would run fast.

Soon after the start something happened. The leaders looked at Nebula and the lines where stangeled. For the first time in a race I actually had to stop and fix them. Soon after that one team passed me and a little later an other. I noticed Piitu was not doing her best. At the finish line I saw why: She had a huge plump on her right front leg. It must have hapend when the lines got round her.
Piitu hurt herself

I put snow on the plump and did all I could, but it didn't help. I took her to vet, who gave her a shot of painkillers. She could not start for second round. I was so disappointed! I was ranked eighth after first round and I would have been so happy to keep that. It seemed impossible with three dogs.

Only three dogs for the second 9 km

I decided to put Miilu alone I in the lead and keep Nebula and Diesel as wheel dogs. They all did great job and I did my best to help them by running all the uphills. Only one team catch me, and when they were in front of me I had to stop and wait for them to fix lines, but I don't mind, because in the end my team was still faster than them.

In the final results my little team was seventh! With three dogs on the second round, I'm really proud of it. I could not have done it without Nebula galloping all the way. There were 22 teams I even got some dog food as a prize.
Overnight in Multasniemi

I stayed the night on the place to take part to the trip on Sunday. I had taken two more dogs with me for that: Tete and Kirka, so in the evening I took care of six dogs and myself - Honestly, it is important also the musher keeps him/herself warm, drinks enough water and eats healthy meals during the day, not just the dogs!

My six dog team ready for the trip on Sunday 

In the morning I took every dog for a walk checked each. To my surprise they were all OK. Piitu seemed completely cured, but to be on the safe side I wanted to leave her in the car. She went crazy. I saw she would hurt herself more trying to break the door, so I put harness on her and walked her to the lines.

So my six dog team for the trip was Miilu and Tete, Piitu and Nebula, Kirka and Diesel. The same dogs who did 2×9 km yesterday would run something like 30 km today.There were nine teams barking and  waiting for the start at a wilderness hostel called Isokenkäisten Klubi. We drove together near the Russian border to Pukari. From there we all made our own speed back. It's a pity it wasn't a race cause I would have won :) Seriously, not really - I just had no-one to wait for.

Turning point, Lake in Pukari 

I learned a lot this year.  As expected, the trip was much nicer than the sprint. I found my sport, where I can use my skills in handling and turning and traveling in the wilderness with my dogteam.

Next winter I would like to do one or two races like this (30-40 km). I have always known mid distance would be better for me and my dogs, but it is a bigger investment.

Husband and sons repairing the trailer a day before the race

I can do a sprint race alone in one day, but going to a MD race often means two or more days, accommodation and a surely a handler.

A handler would be good to have also in sprint races. It would be more easy to make right decisions with an other opinion. To minimize the risk of dog injury, next year I have to be more careful to walk and stretch the dogs before the race. I think I did that better in my first years!
My kind of sport

Next winter my target will be to attend Sport Class in Gold Rush Run and maybe an other similar race, if there is one. Hopefully in Kuusamo?

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