I am a sucker for dog races and since I don't know if I'll be in Alaska to watch any of my favorite ones in person this year, I showed up at a little local race that happened this weekend in Colorado. I almost brought the Disreputable Dog and my skate skis, just in the off chance that we could register for the skijor races on race day, but since I wasn't sure I didn't. I had a blast. There were some great young mushers, 13-16 years old and one 5 year old who went off together with his older brother. It was entertaining talking to the people in the town who talked about the "great dog races"; the Yukon Quest (February) & the Iditarod (March). I heard them asking each other questions about the races and the mushers and since I've volunteered as a handler and know some of the mushers who run those races personally I stepped in to answer their questions. I love February and March, hearing the barking of dogs on my radio in the dark of morning and the mushing reports from the trail, trying to follow my favorite mushers, every year I choose a few to follow - sometimes it's ones I know, sometimes it's one's I just met because I handled for them, and sometimes it's because they come from another place that I have a connection to.
I love being at the starting line and watching the excitement of the dogs, every vocal noise you've ever heard come from a dog is pitched into the frosty air and excited dogs lunge in their harnesses like whales leaping through the spray, excited to get away and to run. When they finally get going their excitement and beauty is so much it almost makes tears come to your eyes. These Colorado races had one thing right, the whole community was involved. This seems to be tradition in the mushing sports that every community that either hosts races or has them pass through takes part in some way in making the race happen. Perhaps that is why I enjoy this sport so much.