Thursday, June 4, 2015

What have we been up to! A lot!

This winter I decided to give Bender a go at dryland dog sledding. I joined West Australia Sleddog Sports Association (WASSA) and we entered our first race, the Hampton Hoon, last weekend. I have been well and truly bitten by the bug. Without Nic's steady influence I think I would have gotten a sled puppy to train up for next year already!

I have decided that our team will be called "Team Planet Express" - as Bender is always going to be my very first sleddog. I have ordered a sticker for the car and the scooter, as well as an iron on patch for Bender's dog coat!

Bender and I at the mock race at beginner's camp
I also took a friend's dog along (Poppy), as her mother and aunty are certainly good sleddogs. Mouse came to participate in the canicross and I was just hoping that we wouldn't win the Red Lantern (the red lantern is the prize you get for coming last - you can read about the tradition of the red lantern here).

Poppy and I starting our first race!
It was a quite a drive out to the Hamptonview Homestead where the race was held, but it's beautiful country out there. It seemed perhaps a little dry, and in fact, it was so dry that there was no condensation at all on my tent in the mornings. This made for very pleasant camping despite the cold temperatures (which are a necessity for the sport), and the very early starts.

I decided that I would buy myself a new airbed for the trip. Well that was a mistake. It was great on the first night but sometime on Sunday it sprung a leak and so it was useless on Sunday night. I ended up stealing Mouse's bed and making her share it with me and Bender.

As for the racing, well it went as well as I expected. Bender's an old man and he ran pretty well in Novice - he definitely had the idea it was a race by the second heat and he even vocalised a bit on the start line when he was being revved up by Vanessa who was handling him for me. We finished 8th overall in Novice with an average speed over the two, 2 km heats of 14.09 kph.

He pulled up really well and this video is of his second heat. He was certainly tired after the weekend and wanted to eat more so I'd say that is a good sign. I have to complete two races as a novice before  I can enter him in any other classes but I plan to move to veteran with him when I am eligible.

Poppy is a pup, almost a year old but a large mixed breed so a long way from being a mature dog. She ran in puppy class and she ran *like* a puppy! I think she probably ran an extra kilometre from all the zig zagging she did all over the track! Poppy and I finished 5th out of 6 dogs, so this was the closest I got to getting the red lantern. Her average speed was 11.5kph. Her litter sister Lily won the red lantern instead.

Hampton Hoon 2015 - Puppy Edit Heat 1 from Jet Ska on Vimeo.

Mouse ran better than expected in the canicross. By the end of 4 heats of racing with Poppy and Bender as well as the 6k walk I did with Mouse on the Saturday to keep her happy, my feet were killing me, so I think I held us back a bit. We ran the 2 kilometres at 9.78 kph and Mouse trotted the whole way, finishing 15th. We could definitely improve in canicross as a team.

The next race is at the end of the month. I'm not sure if I will be taking Poppy along or not but I will definitely post about how we go.
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