The results for yesterday are in and we got 4th place. A bit surprising not to get a podium place as Milos said the dogs ran really well (he took 10) although he took the downhills slowly because Sonnie doesn't like them too fast. We missed 3rd place by 15 seconds. And infact we were only 3 minutes behind Pontier who won. Another surprise from Daniel Juillaguet who got his second podium place in a row with third place... There seems to be no stopping the French this year although the Czech/Slovak contingency is trying! Radek took second place and seems to be warming up now, although a podium place is still going to be hard to get if the other teams have a good run as the time gap from the first few stages is about 50 minutes. Jiri lost a few minutes in this stage and consequently conceded his Leader standing back to Pontier. Those two keep playing Cat and Mouse with first and second place in the general rankings.
Despite not reaching the podium, Milos ran a good race for us and has managed to take about 1.5 minutes off the difference between us and first place overall. Now there is just 12 minutes between us and Pontier and only 7 or so minutes to us and Jiri in second. It is such a tight race this year, it's almost unheard of. The top three (us included) only have 12 minutes separating them having run four stages and nearly 20 hours on the trail!
Meanwhile back at the trailer we (the handlers) are having a tough time with the sick dogs. Slash, who seemed to be improving, took sick again and his temperature went back up. He now has antibiotics for the fever. Both Slash and Balto are on Imodium. It means its unlikely they will run again in this race, maybe a small possibility for the final stage. They are requiring constant care as we are feeding by syringe to try and keep them hydrated and their weight up, and its massively time consuming when we have other dogs needing attention. Sonnie needs a lot of massage on her back legs for tight muscles (although its not causing her too much of a problem), Gina seems to have knocked her front paw and has a swollen toe (not through running, probably in the trailer) and of course all the dogs need walking, stretching and massaging not to mention feeding and feet moisturising for cracks and cuts. It's an unrelenting task. We've had little more than four hours sleep each night and the tiredness is beginning to show. Tonight will be our second night staying in Megeve's sports hall and its full of smelly mushers and handlers who snore and walk around at different times if the night (including us!). Beyond that horror we move further south and get to stay in an apartment in Lanslevillard. I can't wait... I'm cold, wet, smelly and tired. We all are.
We hope to just hang in there, keep running a safe race and not push too hard. Milos just wants to finish with a healthy team. We're saving as many dogs as possible on each stage and the team look really good when they finish. The dogs are so strong still and not looking too tired. We've had no running-related injuries at all... Just bad luck so far. Balto and Slash didn't even run the day they got sick and neither did Gina run when injuring her toe.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for reading and sending your comments... And also your support for Falco who got better very quickly and has been back in the team for a couple of days and doing well.
I will blog again later when I get a chance. Milos left for stage 5 at around 9.45 this morning and although there is light snow it's cold at around -10 so it's much better for the dogs.
Pictures today are the results and a few from our day (Wednesday).
P.S A special hello to the Czech spy who is apparently reading this blog to get information on our team... ;-)
Ooo, and I've just had an update from the vet and Slash's temperature is normal again now so fingers crossed he's really on the mend now. Yay!