representing Great Britain
Representing Great Britain at the World's Premier Races is a huge honour. To quote the USA Olympic Ice Hockey Coach in the Film Miracle "The name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back!" The Union Jack & Great Britain being represented in Dogsled Sport or any Winter Sport is rare and something Mel hopes her own racing will inspire amongst other Dogsled & Winter Sports Athletes, especially Women. Successfully finishing premier races dominated by Norwegians, Americans and other snow/blessed nations, has been incredibly tough, with many hurdles, barriers, tears & fears along the way. But Mel believes success is 90% perseverance and the rewards for that British determination are wonderful. Mel was ranked the UK number 1 in 2013, 2014 & 2016, holding the British Champion title.
mel's race results
Ranked UK Number 1 - Elite Class
350km Expedition - April - 42 dogs (6 teams) - 5 days Wilderness
400km Expedition - March - 36 dogs (5 teams) - 6 days Wilderness
Finnmarks Race - 1000km *(200km) - Withdrew (dogs contracted stomach virus on trail)
The Femund Race - 600km - Elite Class (12 dogs) - 19th/50
The Gruve Race - 160km - 10 Dog Team - 3rd/30 Mass Start
300km Expedition - Jan - 32 dogs (4 teams) - 3 days Wilderness
Gausdal Marathon - 200km - Elite Class (12 dogs) - 17th/26
300km Expedition - 14 dogs - 2 days ''wilderness off-trail''
Editor for The Femund Race
The Gruve Race - 160km - Elite Class (14 dogs) - 11th/70 Mass Start
Ranked UK Number 1 - Elite Class
The Femund Race - 600km - Elite Class (12 dogs) - 25th/52
*First British Racer in History to finish Femund 600*
The Gruve Race - 160km - Elite Class (14 dogs) - 7th/70 Mass Start
Gausdal Marathon - 200km - Elite Class (13 dogs) - 11th Place
Ranked UK Number 1 - 8 Dog Class
Finnmark Race - 500km - 8 Dog Team - 32nd / 70 Competitors
The Femund Race - 400km - 8 Dog Team - 67th / 100 Competitors
*First British Woman in History to finish The Femund Race*
Gausdal Marathon - 200km - 8 Dog Team - 11th Place
Polar Dog Race - 100km - 8 Dog Team - 11th Place
La Grande Odyssee - French / Swiss Alps - 10 Dog Team - 7 Stages
There are many more great sleddog races around the globe beyond this list. The United States, Norway, Sweden, Canada and France are where you will find most of the Elite Class (Long Distance) Races that attract the World's top competitors. The sport is growing rapidly and each year, more races are announced, prize monies are raised, more dogs enjoy doing what they were born to do and more human athletes go pro. Like many sports, Dogsled Racing came about from historic roots, with many heroic stories of greatness, kindness and love and some stories of practices that belong firmly in the past. Today traditions are embraced and hero's remembered, but like the ancient Gladiators compared to current Olympians, the modern sport and it's athletes are a 21st century version, with modern day morals, professionalism and a scientific approach to understand and produce the best training, welfare and nutritional practices for both canine and human athletes, the healthier, fitter and stronger the dogs, the better their performance at races. With new speed records, scientific discoveries and media technology advances its a massively exciting time for the sport!
the human athlete
The toughest endurance sport on Earth! In a long distance race, ''the dogs are the real athletes'', is absolutely true, no matter who you are, the human will always be the weakest link in a Sled Dog team! Driving huskies for thousands of miles, across mountain ranges, in extreme weathers has always been tough, but these days, in order to compete, the humans have to be super athletes too, especially in European races, where the trails go over the tops of mountains, instead of around them, they are mostly climbing, descending or side-sloping all the way and the snow is soft and deep, far from a firm packed snow-road! The dogs are strong fit super athletes, but helping them out reduces the load and conserves their energy - ie you go further faster!
The physical athletism and endurance demands of the training program is much more than actual competitions. During a race, Mushers will run 2 marathons a day. Thats just the uphill parts. In a race like The Femund, by the time they finish the human athletes will have run 8 marathons uphill, pushing a 50kg sled, skiied, heaved and clung onto that sled down 80 ski runs with a pulling force of a family car, then 'scooted/peddled' all the inbetweens equating to cross country skiing another 8 marathons. All while wearing 15kg of Arctic clothing, in deep snow, on high exposed mountains, with -40c blizzards as standard, throughout both day and night. From start to finish, mushers will be on their feet for 22hrs/day. And thats only a 4 day race! In order for both dogs and humans to be fit enough for this, the 9 month training program is equally as arduous, enduring and demanding. There is a reason why Iditarod is considered tougher than Everest! So cancel your Gym membership and sign up for a sleddog race!
After all the physical demands of racing on the trail, it doesn't end there. Unlike any other sport, when at half-time, a checkpoint or timeout, the athlete can relax and be pampered with water sponges, orange segments and a sports massage, the musher has no such luxury. The musher must look after their 12 canine team mates! The musher's job does not finish when he 'walks off the pitch', it simply changes from Athlete to Physio/Vet/Cook/Outdoorsman. Before the musher can eat, drink, rest or even visit the toilet, there is 1-2 hours of jobs to do feeding, bedding down, massaging and caring for the dogs!