Saturday, October 17, 2009

endurance exemplified

Our dogs' fitness is rarely in question... because my wife, Meg, runs them twice a day for a minimum of 8miles each day. As much as it benefits them, Meg needs to run. On the other hand, I haven't had that compulsion in a long, long time. But Meg enjoys it and, to her credit, has completed a handful of marathons. So, feeling the need for a specific goal and having read such tomes as Dean Karnazes' Ultramarathon Man, she decided she'd like to try an 'ultra' -- and doing a trail run had to be easier on the joints than a regular road race, right?

Here's a short clip of the start beside lovely Shepherd Lake. Everyone happy, cheering, excited, and clearly in blatant denial. I don't know if this fellow finished, but he seemed to think it was going to be fun, too. (Sadly, as of Sunday evening, we have discovered that this fellow didn't.)

So she entered the inaugural Mountain Madness 50k. Bearing in mind that race promoters like to amp things up to sell their event, and New Jersey doesn't really have mountains, how hard could it be? 'Sick-o-saurus Rex' is the answer to that question. Here's Meg running down a typical trail on the way to Aid Station #4 at mile 17 or so. We were chatting with another runner who was accompanying his wife on her first 50km who said that he, after now having finished 6, was convinced this was the hardest one he'd ever done.

And so, approximately 9hrs 20mins after she started, my crazed wife crossed the finish line back at Shepherd Lake. And yes, as you can tell from the flash photograph, darkness was absolutely closing in. When I wrote this first, we believed she was the last person to finish. But now (Sunday evening), we have discovered that she was 66th of 70 folks who completed the course; 30 starters did not finish. Congratulations and thanks to Tim + Branwen Ellis and friends for sticking around the extra 20mins or so to cheer Meg's arrival.

In conclusion, Meg rocks.


On Tuesday, I opted to go up to the Northeastern Open Shooting Dog Championship up at Flaherty. Deb had decided to enter Yogurt in the competition because, as an hour-long championship stake, it would be a great training run for her in preparation for Nationals. Being an American Field-sanctioned event, Yogurt was the only non-Setter or Pointer in the race. This is to say that American Field events place an even higher premium on speed, stamina, and range and, with certain exceptions, don't require the dog to demonstrate a retrieve. And frankly, Pointers and Setters will generally on average display those characteristics to an even greater degree than the average 'other' pointing breed. So I was keen to see how a great vizsla would do against a field of long-tailed white dogs.

And the answer is... pretty darn good. Unlike the AKC, there is often prize money given out both to overall champions and to the best dogs on each day. Yogurt finished 3rd on Tuesday, just missing the money, and according to the judges 11th overall for the championship. Yogurt was probably helped by having Sherry Ray Ebert as one of the judges, simply because Sherry has handled and judged other continental breeds and understands that a vizsla's style is no less intent than the ramrod tail of a Pointer or Setter.

I have to admit, though, that while I thought Yogurt had run well, I hadn't seen any of the white dogs put up a performance that was light years beyond hers. Until the final brace of the day. I feel genuinely blessed to not only have seen Mike Tracy and Luke Eisenhart handle those dogs, but to have seen the race that Lawless Lady and Erin's Backstreet Affair laid down. And contrary to the stereotype that perhaps AKC-folks perpetuate these were dogs that ranged hard and far and still had a handle on them. And just stood their birds like it was perhaps the only other thing they knew how to do. Which it might be, but holy mackerel! watching those dogs go through that routine 10 times each during the hour and still finish with gas in the tank was wicked impressive. The final picture is of Lady with her owner, Jane Donze, and handler, Mike Tracy and scout, Alex Smith. This picture, though, is from her win at the Spruce Brook Bird Dog Trial this spring.


Meg said...

How lucky I am to have you as a supporter of these crazy adventures! xoxo Meg

Winter Bicycles said...

10 hours of off road running? Meg, rock on.

Dale Hernden said...

Tell Meg I'm really impressed!

Glad you got to see Mike and Luke. Between them they probably have 10 more dogs equally as good!


Delilah and Rocket said...

Meg- you absolutely do ROCK! I'm lucky if I can eeek out a mile running.

Stephanie said...

Meg, you're an inspiration!


denise garro said...

thanks for the pics Andrew....hope you are well & your shoulder is healing....awesome off road adventure Meg.....tough mind and body....rock on....D