Fort Mac and beyond…
Another race is complete. Going into an event that last 4 -5 days you wonder if it will ever end, but you blink your eyes and your at the finish line and you wonder what just happened. This new race called the 3 forts sled dog race runs 180 miles on the Athabasca river. The race is run in 4 stages, 1 per day. So this format is like running a short version of the Stage Stop. Only no mountains to climb. The weather element that we had to deal with in this race was the temp, dipping down to -40 at night and up to -20 during the day. But we were all very thankful that the wind didn’t blow, that would have been extreme, clear and sunny all the way.
On the first stage from Fort Mac to Fort Mackay, the trail was very fragile and the teams all started to fall through the thin crust that appeared to be solid. As each team went over the trail fell to pieces. I was the 1st team to enter this race so I was able to choose my starting place, so I chose 1st, it worked in the Canadian Challenge and 1st is the mind frame I wanted to keep all the way. So my dogs had and easier run than the teams behind me on the first day, this gave me a good lead on most of the competition, except for Bud Streeper who was only 10 mins aprox behind me. Not a safe lead with 3 days to go. The trail over the next 3 days was hard and fast, allowing Bud Streeper to chip away at my lead. His team is the fastest team in the world up to distances of 60 miles, my team can run about 1/2 mile per hour slower than his, so I was counting on trail or weather conditions to slow him down, my team is a little more husky than his pointer crosses, so if the wind could have blown from the north or the trail turned soft, this might give me the advantage I would need. But the trail was next to perfect and Bud was able to take a 2.40 lead on me going into the final 48 mile run into Fort Chip. Bud was able to catch me and put 6 more min on me that day. His 2nd team driven by John Stewert was not able to make up the time I put on him the first day, so I was locked into 2nd, what a race! Jake ran my 2nd team and did a phenomenal job. Jake ran to a 4th place finish, I never even got a look at Jake during the race until the last day when I caught him, he was too fast and each day he would get to the finish line ahead of me often I could see him on the river ahead in the distance.
I want to thank Josh and Oliver for there huge handling effort, it was damn cold but everyone had a blast. The 3 forts race promises to host another professional race next year, this was the inaugural race, they focused most of their efforts this year on trail safety, often the river can have over flow dangers, and we were in a very remote wilderness, in the years to come the race promises to improve on media coverage, and other logistics.
Sorry I don’t have any pics right now, taking pic was not on the radar at -40, Thanks for reading, Aaron