This is not a biking story.
Instead this is a story of Java and I running the Musk Ox Trail Run not for a race time, but for the sheer enjoyment of each others company…
…and to pick up pin flags from the course because I’m not sure I’m capable of doing anything for “fun”. I’m mission driven like my dog.
This race included several objectives:
- Run a half marathon distance as part of training for the Klondike Road Relay.
- Run the course of the Musk Ox Trail Run without actually racing. This course is hilly, slightly technical, and easy to get lost on if you aren’t paying attention. Plus the race insurance doesn’t allow dogs, and…
- I needed to take Java somewhere for the afternoon so the guys could move the beds and couch to the new house.
The easiest way to accomplish all this was to pick up pin flags after the race was over. And what should have been a straightforward training run had some adventurous moments thrown in there.
First, was the iffy trail conditions. It had rained heavily the day before and so I expected the trail to be sloppy. On my own this wouldn’t be a problem; however, Java is a powerful 16 month old dog that we affectionately call “the huskador” because she likes to pull on her leash. And though she used to be so much worse, it is something she does when we run to get me to go faster, and not give up when I face something challenging like a really big hill. Unfortunately, when we are facing a really steep downhill with wet roots and mud, things can get dangerous. Only once did I lose footing on a root during the very steepest part of this race. And when Java heard me come to a halt in a crouched position she completely stopped. That didn’t stop her from trying to pull me, especially in the last two miles when I was completely tired.
Second, we had to deal with an aggressive dog with an owner that couldn’t control him, nor gave a real inclination that I should worry. Let me breakdown the conversation:
Her: Is your dog friendly?
Me: Yeah. She’s just a puppy.
Her: Well, my dog has the tendency to bring out the worse in other dogs.
Me: My dog just likes to play.
Her: Yeah. She won’t want to play after meeting my dog.
I barely think What? when her dog lunges at us, drags his owner across the trail to attack Java. Java yelps and I fall down the hill behind me as Java is trying to escape this dog. I have no idea if the owner even has a hold of the leash anymore and am fully ready to be bitten.
Eventually, we get out of reach of this crazy dog and the owner, who is sitting on the ground pulling her dog back to the trail. Java is sitting at my heels no blood and no sign of anxiety at this point. She is quiet and stoic as this lady apologizes. She then asks her dog why he is such a jerk. I don’t know how I managed to stay calm when I really wanted to ream her for not admonishing her dog’s behavior more.
She then told me that she was just going to sit there until we climbed out of the thorny brush ahead of her. I looked at all the stumps we had to climb over and told her that was not possible. We waited until she got up and got a down the trail. We climbed out and saw this dog trying to pull his owner back towards us.
From here on out Java is leery of every dog we meet on the trail. She does eventually warm up to another chocolate lab that we meet about a mile after the attack. I warn the owner about this crazy dog. He decides to go to the Secret Trail. Java and I make it to the turnaround point and begin to collect pin flags. We drop piles in several roadside areas and pick them up later.
If I were racing, I would probably finished the Musk Ox Trail Run in 2:45:00 or just a bit more. But picking up pin flags requires a lot of pausing, and we stopped a bit because of the dog attack and to let her play with the other Labrador. It was 3:39:00 before we made it back to the Musk Ox Farm where I finally got a photo of said beautiful animal. I thought Java might bark at it, but she was too preoccupied with food to care.
For the next couple of days I struggled to walk without grimacing. Java was running around the new house by 6pm that night. Oh to be young again…