Jeff King has arrived in White Mountain, and Aily ZIrkle shouldn’t be too far behind.
Jeff’s checkpoint routine is precise. He doesn’t waste much time or energy in taking care of his chores. I’ve often heard that races are won or lost in checkpoints, which I think may be true. Someone told me the other day that their mentor told them if they could shave two minutes off their time in each checkpoint that would make a huge difference in their total time. There’s your math problem for the day. How much time could a musher save by shaving two minutes of of their time in each checkpoint? Don’t forget – they can’t do that in their mandatory stop checkpoints… that would break the rules.
Here’s what Jeff did when he pulled in:
1. Pulled out his cooler and dropped out food that had been in there cooking from the previous checkpoint. The dogs ate this while they were still standing. He said later that the dogs have been eating best when they first pull in, so he’s been carrying food for them.
2. Opened his drop bags and got out his bags of kibble and passed that out to the dogs.
3. Got out buckets and gave each pair of dogs a bucket of water.
4. Opened the straw and gave some to each set of dogs. One of the dogs who was closest to the full bale just helped himself. He pulled some off the bale and made his own nest!
5. Passed out fat snacks to the dogs.
6. More straw! Jeff doesn’t just give them straw to lay on, he actually puts straw on top of them and makes them little cubbies of straw to cuddle down into. When he ran out of extra straw for the top he put his sleeping bag on one pair and his parka on another pair.
7. Then he grabbed a handful of straw and some Heet and started to get his cooker ready.
That’s when he stopped and started telling stories to the reporters! He said the trail out the last checkpoint was really bad for the first ten miles – rocks and stumps. He says he almost pushed his “Get me out of here” button. But then the trail turned great and he had a wonderful run. He says that when he got to the river his leaders were amazing. They went right out onto the glare ice without any problems. It was really slippery and the smallest gust of wind would send them sliding sideways. He thinks it’s been interesting to see the terrain with so little snow because now he know really knows what the land looks like. Usually everything is covered in snow and you can’t tell what is what. He says he feels great, no aches or pains and he’s not that sleepy. He credits his feelings of being awake to waiting until Ruby to take his twenty-four hour rest. He says the dogs look great, they are perfectly gaited.
Oh – dogteam! Aily is here! It’s going to be a close one!