Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Gin Gin 200 off to a WINDYstart.....

The 2008 Gin Gin 200 kicks off to a rough and windy ride for mushers and their teams. The women's division started at 11am with Yukon Quest musher and past Gin Gin finisher, Michelle Phillips first out of the chute. One after another, the women teams left in 2 minute intervals. Last years Gin Gin 200 champion Jodi Bailey left in good spirits with a good sense of humor seeming confident in her team. Aliy Zirkle was all smiles as she pulled up to the chute and Yuka Honda left in a hurry barely having a minute to spare! It was nice to see Colleen Robertia's team pull up ready to roll --a happy healthy bunch of dogs. I recognised her leaders from 2 years ago when they led her to 3rd place. They are back and looking good. Jen Seavey's team rolled up nice looking very professional.

The temps were hanging around -2 with minimal wind in Paxson. It's amazing how fast things can change once you head out of Paxson town and into the mountains.

With unforgiving winds just over an hour out, the trail had been beaten down to a mere sheet of thin ice making it a total scramble for the teams as they head up and over 13 mile summit, not to mention some exposed pavement creating more excitement for mushers as they are forced to drive their sled with total precision and skill. Just what they needed ---more excitement right? With winds blowing at 40 mph and the wind chill factor, we're looking at -55 out there.

They have a long way to go and a cold night ahead of them. -25 at Maclaren right now. Looks like it may get down to -35.

Teams all departed fairly smooth and almost on time. With a very short break, we barley had enough time to run in for a cup of coffee and to warm the toes. The men rolled out in a blur..teams were lining up and heading out in an orderly fashion. Iditarod and Yukon Quest musher Sonny Linders team looked focused eyes staring down the trail, Allen Moore was smiling ear to ear, & Tom Lesatz was ready to get going by the time we counted down 4, 3, 2, 1........the longest 4 seconds....and then there's Lance Mackey. His team looked beautiful---very happy and lively.

About 3pm, we got word that some of the teams had turned around- dogs were shutting down in the hellacious winds. more to come soon....with pic's