Again and again I have been asked, if and why I even want to race. I have seen some dogs – those belonging to others, but also my own – which, during a race were absolutely at their limit and looked totally miserable. On the other hand I have also seen dogs that, after more than 1000 Km and looking totally fit, have reached the finishing line and rolled happily in the snow.
However, there is one thing I have learned during races and especially in training: only by training and driving the dogs can I see how good a dog actually is. The fascination of standing on a sledge behind a great team of 16 super athletes is enormous. The efficiency, power and capacity of the dogs is so great that it cannot, in reality, be fully exploited. When my dogs, after 120 Km or more, still play as if nothing had happened, then I am just happy and feel privileged to be part of that experience.
I want to train my dogs so that for them a race is simply one excursion among many. They should be able to run any race distance and when they achieve this I estimate that I have exhausted maybe 70% of the dog’s potential. At this point I recognise my own limitations and accept that I am, by far, the weakest link in the chain but, at the same time, can all the better appreciate the achievements of the dogs.
My role on the team – beside, of course, the fact that I simply must be there, on the sledge – is to be the coach, trainer, masseur, navigator, and food supplier. Additionally, I need to be able to recognize and, if possible, treat illnesses, to motivate the dogs and try not to be too great a ballast. So, I will try my best - promise.