Saturday, February 5, 2011

City of the Lakes Loppet Skijoring Race

A week after the King Boreas Race (results here), it is time for the City of the Lakes Loppet. Mellie and I had participated in the Skijoring Loppet last year, and after a promising result (38th out of 124 entrants, see here) we decided to definitely be part of the event again this year. After last week's encouraging result at the King Boreas Race in St. Paul, I was looking forward to an improvement over last year, even considering the longer distance.

Lynn decided to accompany me, to cheer me on, experience skijoring and to take pictures. We arrived at Lake of the Isles, parking near the skating rink with just enough time to make it to registration to pick up our package and bib. The volunteer signing me in gave me a puzzled look as he glanced from his check list to me and back to the list. It turned out there was me, Christian Franken and a Chris Franken. I could help clarifying, assuring him that Christian was my name and that the other Franken was a woman. How odd is this? He checked and double-checked my bib number to make sure there was no mix-up between Chris and Christian.
Patient pup!
I headed back to meet Lynn and to begin the long wait (about an hour) before start. Mellie and I had to take evasive action in order to avoid being in the way of the sprinters. We dropped our stuff, posed for pictures and said hi to some of the many dogs. After the sprint race was done, the skijorers' meeting got under way. After that was done, Mellie and I went for a little jaunt, mostly to drop her excitement to a bearable level.

Mellie was very good waiting those last 15 minutes, mostly. There were a lot of excited dogs and some of the handlers had their hands full. Some of the scenes were quite hilarious, with handlers ending up on their rear ends and at least one dog making a short-lived escape attempt. Lynn, Sharon and Peggy told me later that there was all kinds of mayhem during the start proper.
The "oomph" as the line snaps tout
On our way!
Thanks to our decent finish last year we got a higher wave placement, just behind the elites in row one, thus fortunately we were spared any tangles. We were not able to match the speed of many of our opponents and concentrated on keeping an even pace. Mellie did very well, staying out of the way of other dogs and skiers and pulling hard, especially when pursuing other competitors. We came by  a wipe-out of one of the elites, a woman with a team of German shorthaired pointers. She was picking up hat and GoPro camera as we were skiing past. Within a few minutes they passed us as if nothing had happened and managed to finish 5th.
Starting the second lap.

In the meantime we finished the first lap, Mellie continuing undeterred by the crowds and were catching up to a group of four teams, two male (including Dallas and Comet) and two female. We continued with them from about half-way through the second lap to the bridge.
End of second lap.
One of the dogs, another labrador-type seemed very friendly to his comrades on the other teams. His owner, a very strong skier was rather handicapped by his teammate, I think he might have been able to get away from us without him. Once under the bridge, the women fell behind. Not sure what happened, they lost 20-30 seconds on us over the home stretch. It turned out that one of them was the mysterious Chris Franken.
Chris Franken on my heels.
We finished behind Comet and Dallas and the other guy, in 17:37 minutes, 13th out of 37 teams in our category. Awesome time thanks to Mellie! For full results, see here.

Did I do a good job??? Yes, you did!

Full picture set can be found at my share site.

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