Libby Creek’s Whiteout Racing Team exceeded expectations yet again this season when Christina Gibson and her dogs took third place overall at the Eukanuba 8 Dog Classic Sled Dog Race, a division of the Pedigree Stage Stop Race in Wyoming. Teams race 25-30 miles a day, attend events in the evening, and spend the night in a hotel before running the next race in the morning.
The Eukanuba race is held during the first three days of the Stage Stop race and has a limited entry of 10 teams. Christina raced both days with eight core dogs. Nellie and Brother ran lead positions. Her mother Emily acted as a one-woman support crew.
The Eukanuba race started with a vet check in Jackson, Wyoming. The next day, Jan. 26, the team traveled to Alpine, where they ran 30 miles in 2 hours, 38 minutes, and 12 seconds. The next day in Pinedale the dogs swallowed up miles in a furious pace, finishing at 1:57:08.
The team has spent the season training at longer distances with slower paces. The end goal was to participate in a 100-mile mid-distance race. Christina was surprised at the faster pace the dogs took on during the sprint runs. “I was not pushing them, they were comfortable. I went into the race expecting to finish in the bottom three,” she said. Her dogs had different ideas and busted out the speed, finishing in the top three.
Although Christina is focused on longer mid-distance races and enjoys the solitude of a 100-mile run, she tried the short sprint to get a feel for other race options. Christina was surprised to discover she loved the sprint events, and the increased density of teams. “There was so much knowledge to gain from being around other mushers and a multi-vet team,” she said. The dogs enjoyed the different atmosphere too — “it was good for the dogs to gain exposure to crowds, and socialize with lots of people,” Christina said.
The race following the Eukanuba was Race to the Sky — the mid-distance race Christina and her team had trained for all season. Montana’s Race to the Sky is recognized as, “one of the most challenging and beautiful dog sled races in the world,” and is an Iditarod qualifier. Unfortunately, Brother fell ill and required veterinary care. Christina canceled the trip to Race to the Sky and kept her dogs home under watchful eye. “It would be irresponsible to put other teams at risk,” she explained, “and I don’t want to run my dogs if there is a chance that they are sick.” Valley Veterinary in Twisp performs annual vaccinations and health exams, while multi-vet teams at races check out teams every leg of every race. All told, the Whiteout Racing team has seen a vet at least 10 times in the last year. Christina expressed an appreciation for Dr. Terri, who has taught her how to care for her dog team.
During the off-season the dogs stay active by playing fetch, swimming and hiking. Christina raises funds by offering educational presentations in schools and at community events. This week, Christina and the Whiteout Racing team were at Methow Valley Elementary school as the students follow the Iditarod races.
Presentations generally cover the history of dog racing, details of the Alaskan Husky breed, and tales from Christina’s experiences. All presentations are tailored to specific audiences. A standout review from ninth-grade English teacher Cameron Alford is posted on Christina’s webpage, and reads, “She spoke with articulation and maturity … Her interesting tales of adventure weren’t the only thing that inspired my students; her confidence in speaking and the boldness and self-motivation she shows pursuing her passion did so as well! I highly recommend finding an excuse to have Christina present in your classroom!”
To book a presentation, sponsor a dog, or learn more about the team, visit www.whiteoutracingkennel.com. Follow all the fun on Facebook, www.facebook.com/WhiteoutRacingKennel.