Saturday, February 6, 2010

City of the Lakes Skijoring Loppet

Today was the big day, The City of the Lakes Skijoring Loppet! We drove to Lake of the Isles around 11:30, quickly found a parking spot near the warming house by the skating area and skied over. I tried a new technique to prevent Mellie from chewing up the rope: I gave her a tennis ball to carry. It worked!

The staging area was a veritable zoo, dogs and people and bicyclists from the bikes on ice race taking place while we picked up our bib. We met many nice dogs and people. Unfortunately, Mellie got a bit too friendly with a little boy and pushed him over in her exuberance. His parents were very kind about it but I felt so bad.

We met up with our friend Sher Stoneman, who had been wanting to take some pictures of Mellie and me skijoring, thanks to modern technology we met near the parkway bridge, on the Lake of the Isles side. I am grateful that she came and she certainly took some great pictures. We chatted a bit and then moved to the start. Being in the second wave we could see how the pros were doing it. Most of them had handlers along that held their excited dogs back.

You can see the tug line going under Mellie's stomach. From

My concern during the start was to avoid getting tangled up with other skiers' tug-ropes, a valid worry, if you care to look at the photos at Mellie ran nice and straight, as I suspected, the presence of other dogs was a huge incentive, getting her competitive juices flowing. Somehow she got the tug-rope caught under her belly and I couldn't free it until about the middle of the race. That probably cost us three or for places in the rankings, if not more. After we had the rope freed, she pulled way better.

Photo by Sher Stoneman, from Christian's Running Blog

And then the stumble (red marker on map): the snow on and after the ramp from the lake to the mall was very deep and mushy, kind of heavy, too. This is where the race organizers had needed to cart in snow from the outside and it was not premium quality. We made it up the ramp but when it leveled off one of my skis dug into the soft snow and I fell flat on my face. Fortunately I could get up without having to roll around but it probably cost us another two or three places!

View City of the Lakes Skijor Loppet in a larger map

For Mellie and me it was still a success! We placed 38th out of 124 total and 17th in our (Recreational) category, finishing in 10 minutes 41 seconds! (See here for the results). I have to say that per my Garmin Forerunner 305, the course is significantly shorter than the advertised 4.5 km (3 miles): I clocked only about 3.25 km. Now we know what to expect.
On the home stretch, seconds after kissing the snow.
No time to re-cap my head.

Mellie seemed a bit shell-shocked, so many dogs in one place! She was trooper, though. I wish I could have gotten that tug-rope out from under her belly faster. The only place where she got a little confused was between the phalanxes of spectators, especially on the mall. she wanted to stop to say "hi" to people but did continue. Mellie slept hard after we came home.

While walking back to the start to retrieve our bag, we heard all of a sudden "Nice shirt."
It was Jerritt Johnston from the Minnesota Orienteering Club (MNOC), volunteering for the Junior Loppet. Besides Sher, he was the only person I knew.

From Christian's Running Blog

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