I'm not sure how many times I can say this but it is such a tight race this year. The top three are separated by only 17 minutes but very quickly being caught by Radek who has finally found his running feet and was on the podium again today. Also on the podium was Daniel Juillaguet who is getting some really great runs in and slowly climbing the leader board... But we hope to have enough time on him to stay ahead. Radek is starting to look dangerous in fourth place and the gap between has reduced to about 40 minutes.
At this point Jiri and Jean-Philippe look unbeatable. Jiri's team looks really strong and in good shape. J-P's team perhaps not so much. But what Pontier might be losing to injuries or tiredness in his dogs, I think he will gain with the longer stages, known to be his favourite and strongest part of the race. It will be interesting to see if they can both keep that speed for the longer distances or whether the toll of running the dogs fast in these first few stages will start to show.
Milos has been running a very sensible race and does not have eyes on the top spot any more. We've been dogged by bad luck this year (excuse the pun) so although we still have a lot to be grateful for (ie. that we're still here after Balto and Slash's suspected Kennel Cough which thankfully turned out to be something else) we're now just hoping to hold on to third place by not losing too much time. Having said that I'm sure Milos will take any opportunity that comes his way but he will not be pressured into running his dogs fast down hill which is where the other teams are gaining speed on him. They catch him up and overtake down hill but quite often he will be faster up hill. But he says it's a risky strategy and the sight of dogs falling in the snow as they speed down steep slopes is horrifying to him. No top prize is worth that and teams will suffer injuries because of it, without fail.
Back to today, he managed fifth, giving the leaders about a 5 minute gain in the general rankings. He's now some 17 minutes behind, which isn't much really but when you see how these guys run, they don't give anything away!
We had 9 dogs today as Milos wanted to leave Sonnie and Grony, Balto and Slash are still out and Gina appeared from the trailer this morning with a swollen toe! We noticed it as we prepared to race. The vets said it is yet another problem that is unrelated to running and she probably caught it on the trailer or twisted it somehow. We now have another dog that needs special attention... Icing her toe every 2 hours then re-applying a compress to help the swelling. We hope this one will be a speedy recovery but I doubt she'll run for a couple of days. The good news is both Slash and Balto have normal temperatures again and both have started eating from the bowl. It's a great sight and I'm sure now they're eating their recovery will gather speed. Yay.
Tonight at 7pm we have to take the dogs out again for the Megeve Challenge, a short 6km "show". It doesn't count towards the rankings although there is a separate prize. But we will just take what dogs we need to (8) and take it easy. We don't want to make any mistakes at this point.
That's it today. Results below and see you tomorrow!