Reprinted from Sled Dog Sports Magazine, April 2006It is not supposed to be this cold in the middle of March in Fairbanks. The thermometer was stuck at 30 below zero the morning of the first race, so we turned to the scientific method of determining temperature by throwing a cup of boiling water in the air and seeing if it turns to ice before it hits the ground. It did. They say that happens at 40 below. About a foot of snow fell in the area just two weeks before the race and cold temperatures during the period up to the race made for an unusually soft trail, soft by ADMA standards anyway, despite extensive grooming efforts.8 dog class:Uschi Liebhard, the mushing enigma from Austria, continued her domination of the 8 dog class by breaking her competitors by over a minute each day. Uschi has won this race the last three years in a row. Her dogs are mainly ¼ pointer, ¾ Alaskan husky and are quite leggy and tall. The pedigrees go back to dogs from Ivan Schmid and Helmet Peer, 2 other very successful and well known Austrian mushers. Other than 10 dog races, the only races I can remember her losing are when she has run off the trail, or had to scratch due to sick dogs. Uschi’s dogs are high attitude at the starting line and seem to be a handful to keep calm. Once they blast from the chute, they are all focused and business like, going out strong and coming home the same way. I spoke with Uschi and she said she will only be back next year if her husband, Ewald, is able to accompany her for the whole trip. This year he was only here for the LNAC, then had to fly back home to Austria. Making it a long and somewhat lonely mushing trip for the Austrian. 6 dog class: Kourosh Partow, multiple winner of the 6 and 4 dog classes at this race stormed to his latest victory by breaking a track record on the first day, and nearly tying the previous record on the second. At Zero F., and low humidity the sled slides like it is on sand. Although it is perfect temperature for the dogs to run, the abrasive quality of the snow usually keeps the speed down. Somebody forgot to tell Kourosh’s dogs this, as they came to town from Chugiak with game on and set a pace that baffled the rest of us. Only on the third day was anyone close, yet still 15 seconds off his pace on the longer 7.7 mile trail. Beverly Stevens, retired school teacher, author of a recent childrens book on mushing, and proponent of a “my dogs all live in the house” mushing style held on to second place overall. Having won the race last year I had high hopes and expectations coming into it this year, but Kourosh and Bev had the better teams of the weekend. I had the second fastest time on day 2 & 3, but couldn’t chip away enough at Bev’s lead to get past her on overall, and I doubt I could have caught Kourosh even if the stars aligned in my favor. Congrats to those winners. This was probably my last 6 dog LNAC, as I will be moving up to 8 dog next year if all goes as planned. There is something about the 6 dog class that is elusive and alluring. It usually has the most racers, the tightest finishing times, and the fastest average speeds. A couple seconds of a dog having to poop on the fly, a couple seconds of a dog dipping for snow, a couple of slides around corners with your sled, might lose you a few places.4 dog class: Part time musher Scott Campbell of Two Rivers, Alaska took home first place in the 4 dog competition. Campbell’s overall winning time was about 90 seconds over second place Julie Bloch of France. It was a tight race for 2nd through 5th with 4 mushers separated by under 60 seconds overall. Chugiak’s Deanna Partow was third. Skijor: All three skijor classes used a new, longer trail distance than had been previously used. Having voted in favor of extending the distance to equal the distance of the 6 dog class, the skijorers raced 5.9, 5.9 and 7.7 miles. In 3 dog skijoring, Cindy Salmon took advantage of her home track and pulled out a come from behind win over Amanda Byrd also of Fairbanks. Amanda saw her 1st day lead dwindle on day 2, then totally disappear on the longer 3rd day. Cindy used her experience, excellent skiing technique and her Alaskan Huskies to cover the course 46 seconds faster than Amanda on the third day to win by 33 seconds overall. Finishing 3rd was another Fairbanksian, Brian Charlton. The 2 dog class was won by Susan Seitz of Fairbanks who moved into the lead on the second day and stayed there, beating out Becky Voris from Anchorage. Greg Jurek of Fairbanks was 3rd overall. Andy Seitz was the sole competitor in the 1 dog skijor class, but gave it all he had nonetheless. Seeing Andy collapse as he crossed the finish line each day, reminded me why I don’t skijor.
Dog scootering involves having your dog(s) pull you on a wheeled scooter whilst attached via