{Tsuga Siberians}
February 25, 2008 - "We Did It!"
  Hello all. 

The weekend of celebrating is over and we've said goodbye  to all our new friends that we meet along the trail, as they've  headed back home.  We are getting ready to do the same thing soon. The finish line came a little too soon for me.  I wasn't ready.  The  dogs flew down the last 30 miles of river running and in tho  Whitehorse.  It had broken my heart and some of the teams spirit to  drop Jim in Braeburn.  The cut he got on his foot way back outside of  Circle in the jumble ice was just too much for him to continue to  overcome.  His gait had been off as he tried to compensate for the  sore foot and that eventually was what led me to drop the heart and  soul of our kennel for the first time ever in his career just 100  miles from retiring with a perfect record.  I knew I made the right  decision, but I have to admit I seriously thought of putting him on  the line to get out of the checkpoint and carrying him the rest of  the way to the finish.  Not a smart idea, but maybe it shows you how  much that dog means to me.  The whole last 100 miles as I watched the  rest of the team pull me home, I could see Jim all the time as 5 of  his kids were still in the team and doing very, very well.   So just  nine of my original 14 starters trotted under the finish chute on  Thursday evening in a time of 12 days 9 hours and 58 minutes.  My  amazing Stump and Reba led the way.  Stump led almost 900 miles of  the race and Reba led the last 400 straight.  Behind them were Mugs  and Eliza.  Eliza had replaced Gecko at the last minute before the  start when some of his bloodwork came back with indications of  possible internal problems.  The brothers Logan and Merlin ran  together just behind the girls.  Their energy stayed very high the  entire race and Logan was banging his harness in the finish chute to  the point I had to release his tugline before he popped the  snowhook!  Gila ran in and with 3 of her puppies on the line with  her!  Ambler and Hood were the workhorses in wheel position and  Ambler, like Logan, was especially animated in the chute.  It was  amazing to see my whole team wagging their tails, rolling in the  snow, smiling, and still eating well even with all the folks gathered  to see us finish.  I got a great hug form Sue.  And a good many more  from Tom, Linda, Scott, Uncle Bobby, Moe, and more.  Lance Mackey  also came out to greet me and had great things to say about the team  and our accomplishment of becoming the fastest purebred team in Quest  history.  A record that had stood since 1991.  

After letting the  dogs relax for a bit, we loaded them and the gear in the truck and  drove across town to the Yukon Inn for a couple beers and finally, bed! The finishers banquet was fun and a good way to wind down the intense  experience that is a 1000 mile sleddog race.  We had a pretty nice  group of folks sitting with us as first, Lance and Tonya Mackey asked  if they could sit with Sue, Scott and myself.  Phil Joy and his  handler/wife to be, Kumi, joined us along with Hugh Neff and Tamara  Reynolds.  We had a lot of great compliments on the team throughout  the night from fans, other racers, officials, and the vet staff.  It  was humbling and very rewarding to hear that we had broken down some  negative feelings towards our siberian team and that we exceeded  most, if not everyones, expectations.    Except ours!  We know we  could do much better and that's a tough feeling to walk away  from....   

Lance brought back a mountain of awards and trophies to  the table and it was cool to see how excited he still gets to win.   He was very moved by getting the vet's choice award, and I can fully  understand why.   Once the official part of the banquet was over, we  all went back to our hotel and did some more celebrating, not quite  ready for it all to be over..... So that's that!  We definitely feel this void of purpose at this  point.  We have worked so hard to get to this point and now don't  have any set goals or things to do.  It feels very strange.  We'll  run teams for a couple of days, just to have some fun with the dogs  and allow ourselves to catch up on sleep, food and relaxation before  packing the truck and trailer and setting off for the long drive home. Thanks so much to all of you that have supported us in various ways  and sent greetings to us and the team. We are very grateful. 

Thank  you. take care - Mike, Sue and TeamTsuga.

 

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