I have to apologise for the very slow, well non existent, feed to this blog over the last week. It is fair to say that none of your expectations of what the trail throws at you are ever realistic enough. I have three or four posts in my head ready to dump up into this space but I’ve not had time or the internet access to get to them yet.
So this post will appear out of sequence as I’m currently sat two days down the trail in Circle checkpoint using our one hour of internet (thanks to the comms team for giving me a second half hour ticket) to watch Rob’s progress up the trail on the tracker.
I should also say that posting when you are suffering the level of sleep depravation that I have since Saturday morning is a very very dangerous thing so I will be careful to try and stick to reporting rather than reflecting as far as possible.
However, I do have to start out by saying that this has been an enormous levelling experience for me in very many ways. It has taught me that there is still a lot you can learn about yourself, even in your fifties, and that you can’t make assumptions about your own reaction to the world around you let alone the what, why and how the rest of your environment works and reacts to you. Below the veneer thin presentation layer that we normally rely on as reality there is a deeply complex web of systems and events that we like to ignore but are in reality absolutely critical to the outcomes of life.
Back to reporting! The good news is Rob is still going and from a leader board perspective is going well running in the middle of the pack at good pace. This is one of those examples though where the presentation layer of the architecture creates a simple image that hides a deeply complex web of things that feed that presentation layer. This has already been a very tough Yukon Quest for him. He has had to drop a team member at each of the first three check points. It was a terrible shame to lose the lovely Tanq at Two Rivers but in losing Psycho at 101 and Nyx at Central he has two of his leaders in the van and no longer on the trail and that is very tough from a team perspective
But he’s doing a really great job. The challenge is always to communicate that to him and convince him of it. I know that we are all very grateful for the support that Rob (and by extension the rest of the team) get from the team’s fans around the internet and around the world. He can’t see the very positive messages that you send himself but we are passing those sentiments on to him.
He has pushed really hard up the first two hundred miles of trail and he is obviously very tired but he continues to drive himself beyond the limits of what most people would consider possible. The next twenty four hours are likely to be very significant to the future of his race – not being too dramatic about it – so we really are sat here in Circle waiting with bated breath to see what happens next. If he is able to leave Circle with the 11 dogs that left Central then he will have a good chance of getting through the last part of the Alaskan side of the Yukon Quest and in to Dawson in one piece where he can rest and regroup for the Canadian end of the race.
To selfishly move back onto what is happening for the handlers I should say that Chris and I keep asking ourselves what day is it and what time is it. By normal standards we haven’t really slept at all since we left Melinda and Chris’s care in Fairbanks on Saturday morning some 48 hours ago. We caught two hours sleep from 6pm to 8pm in Central last night and I woke up feeling like it was actually Monday morning so it was strange to walk into the restaurant to see people drinking beer and eating their post Super Bowl Sunday dinners.
For Chris this is a repeat journey but with a very different script. His experience with Siberian Huskies is very important to Rob particularly with Louise unable to join us until Dawson. It has been one of those personal lessons and frustrations that I mentioned that for me that I can’t actually add any value at that level. Consequently I have had to make sure that I find the way that I can actually add value, not where you think you should, and maximise those. I also have to keep reminding myself that this is a holiday to be enjoyed and not an ordeal to be endured. Thanks to Sheila as always for sagely reminding me of that. And don’t be fooled, it is enjoyable, it is the experience of a lifetime – until next year!
Off now to prepare for Rob’s arrival in Circle. Wish him luck everyone. We know you are all rooting for him.