Raumai Cup Day One

Raumai Cup Race morning began with drizzle and thick mist hanging over the forest. I arrived early to help set up then headed off to walk the trail. Thankfully it was pretty dry in the sheltered depths of the trees.

Walking along I took time to help by clearing debris from the trail. The temperature turned out to be mild, not freezing as I had dressed for. Lugging my backpack, tripod and camera in hand, I was soon sweating and puffing my heart out, with too many layers for this mid-morning 6km hike!!

The hike was worth the effort though as it enabled me to find good spots to be at during racing that could best capture the action. Only looking over a plan or map of the course would not be anywhere near as effective.

Forest trail
Grass trail
forest and grass trail
Forestry track

Cars, trailers, people and dogs began arriving early afternoon with the mushers meeting for race briefing and bib draw at 3.30pm.

Everyone seems to know each other, catching up on happenings and swapping stories of how their life and their dogs are doing. Rigs, scooters and equipment were unloaded from cars, vans, trailers and even a house bus. Dogs are put on leads and taken out to stretch their legs before race time.

Musher briefing

Rigs and scooters come in many sizes and designs.

red three wheel rig
Yellow three wheel rig
Red three wheel rig with bag
Four wheeled rig

Racing started just before dusk. Classes include Junior, Veterans, Open Scooter and Rig Class. Scooters are 1 or 2 dog teams with Rigs this weekend ranging from teams of 2 up to 8 dogs.

Veteran and Junior teams were out first for the evening racing on a shorter course than the open scooter and rig classes . Veteran class refers to the dogs’ age not the mushers!! With Junior referring to the mushers age 😉
Once veteran and junior teams are all home, the trail is changed and the full distance is set for the open classes.
Scooters were sent out at 30 second intervals and once they were all back across the finish line the Rigs were sent off at 60 second intervals.

With overcast, damp conditions and fading light, fast shutter speeds to capture the action was not going to happen. I shot at f4.5, ISO 6400 and only got 1/200 sec shutter speed. This resulted in any photos taken from a side angle being an uninteresting blur as these dogs are really powering off the start.

Moving to a front on angle allowed the camera to cope much better with the approaching dogs and freeze the action at a lower shutter speed.

two dog teams finishing
Scooter and dogs finishing
Huskies pwer at the start

By the time the multi dog rigs went out it was completely dark. Not wanting to use flash and distract the racing teams, I played with some creative settings to work on my ghost dog effect. Obviously still lots of practice and patience required to get this happening!!

Ghosting dogs
Ghosting dogs

After helping pack up for the night I followed Eric & Gaby back to Palmerston North to stay with them for the night. Enjoying Gaby’s lovely home cooked dinner and a tasty bottle of red wine shared between us.

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