Monday, March 14, 2011

Red Lantern

This weekend was a lot of fun on and off the course. The team and I went down to Stanley Idaho for the 2nd annual Stanley Dogtown Rendezvous. Twenty-nine teams signed up. Four teams were signed up in the 8 mile (4 per day)/4-dog race that I was doing. My other three competitors were juniors. They weighed much less than me and had much faster dogs. Not that I cared, we’re not out there to win, we’re out there to meet other mushers (and dogs, according to Tensaw), enjoy the atmosphere/scenery and watch my beautiful dogs do what they do best, run.

Saturday the 4 dog teams started at 2pm which is much too late in the day for dog sledding in mid-March. It pushed the temperature limits of what my team could run in…especially Kona who has the thickest coat of the group. The course was FUN! Hilly, windy, and beautiful and definitely a technical course. It made me want a drag brake on my sled that much more (my spring project…among many).

Sunday we improved our time by a minute. The dogs were so much stronger Sunday but poor Saw is afraid of snowmobiles and there were many passing us on the trail; causing him to create many tangles. The dogs did GREAT though. I was so very proud of them. Unfortunately, for our team, there was no red lantern award. That isn’t a big deal, I mostly like the humor in that award, but for all intensive purposes, we “won” the Red Lantern!

For those who do not know, the red lantern award is given to the last place musher in each event. Many people confuse the Red Lantern Award with the widow’s lamp. The idea for the red lantern might have easily stemmed from the widow’s lamp but according to the Iditarod website they are not the same. The widow’s lamp is an Iditarod tradition carried over from the days of Alaska dog sled freighting. Lit when a dog team was on the trail, it helped lead the team in as well as inform others that a team was on the trail. The flame was only extinguished when the team(s) returned. The Iditarod lights its widow’s lamp at the beginning of the race and is extinguished after the last musher crosses the finish line. The Red Lantern Award, on the other hand, was first started at the 1953 Fur Rondy race as a joke and has stuck in the mushing world since.

Next year I’d like to run this race again but run the 20 mile/6-dog class. I’ll have to practice mushing on more technical trails before then though.

Love your puppas!

A side note: I would have pictures for you….had I remembered my camera battery. The other mushers I was with took pictures and I will post them when they get them to me.

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