At long last, I have the video of all my runs from Champs. Luckily, I made some notes and wrote them up when I returned home from Springfield.
Wednesday: I left for Champs just before noon. It turned out to be about a three and a half hour drive--about half of it on two lane roads. The Fairgrounds were easy to find, but the motel proved to be a little harder. Especially in the dark.
Thursday: Round 1 was 40 obstacles long!!! Belle and I ran about 169th and didn't run until about 2pm, five hours after the walk through. On the walk through, I planned for a long lead out and as much distance and as little running on my part as possible. When I watched some of the taller 12" dogs run, I realized my only chance of making it across the finish line would be to ignore any mistakes and just keep moving. I did a pretty good job with my handling. Belle head checked coming out of the tunnel after the A-frame, but she had no problem carrying out to the outer arc of hoops and I was able to layer the dogwalk saving myself many, many steps. I had to remember to not move fast and end up too deep when Belle was in the weaves to once again save myself from running any more than I had to. I also had to remember to check myself when I her into the tunnel before the tunnel under the A-frame so that she could see me push out to the tunnel under the A-frame. The run was flawless until (like many a handler) I turned too soon at the hoop before the dogwalk and incurred an off-course. I could have fixed it if I were more fit, but as it was I barely made it to the finish line. Belle's Time = 61.08s; Course Faults = 30.
Round 2: Hooray!!! This course was just 20 obstacles long and very fast!!!! We didn't run until about 8:15pm. I had a difficult time deciding when I was going to release Belle from the start line, but I ended up picking the ideal moment. I forgot to slow down and use Belle's name to turn her head toward the correct tunnel before the A-frame and drove her into the off-course tunnel. She came flying out of that tunnel and ran around the backside of the correct one. I wasn't going to correct the off-course, but decided a 10-point fault was better than 30. Belle's Time = 39.49; Course Faults = 10.
Friday: Round 3 was also 20 obstacles. We were the 18th team to run on Friday. Sweet. I chose to lead out to the take-off side of the serpentine, but I wonder if leading out to the landing side would have produced a tighter and faster run, or if the way I handled it with its wides on the serpentine and at the jump after the dogwalk was the fastest way for Belle? I think the turn from the jump to the weaves was fairly tight. Belle's Time = 37.28; 4th Place.
Round 4: This was our best run. I felt like we were perfectly in sync, with no bobbles or wides. Belle's Time = 38.00 sec; 4th Place.
I watched a little bit of the first round of Silverstakes Thursday afternoon, but it wasn't pretty, so I left. Friday, I watched both rounds of Silverstakes and Superstakes, and WOW! The 20 obstacle courses were much more reasonable. Two or three of the teams had nearly flawless runs. One was an older Border Collie who approached her job more slowly and methodically, checking in for direction at strategic spots on course.
Someone stopped me in the afternoon to say how much she enjoyed watching Belle and me run. It was so nice to hear.
I was very impressed with the crowd. They applauded for every run and cheered loudly for many. Matt and Martha did a great job with their commentary during the runs. It definitely would have been awkwardly quiet without their commentary. During Stakes there is no commentary so that the dogs are not distracted. Those of us watching were on the edge of our seats, breathless and hoping for successful runs for each Stakes team. The silence was intense.
Someone shared the winning sequence of turns for returning to the hotel from the Fairgrounds--2R3L1R. It was really nice to be able to get back there without taking a scenic drive through Springfield in the dark :-)
Saturday. Round 5. OMG! Drastically underestimated the speed my running start would produce and totally under-handled the course. This was the worst run Belle and I have ever had. However, I was not alone. The wheels came off the bus for many a team on this course. Belle's Time: 57.06s; Course Faults: 20.
Round 6: The walk-through for this one was brutal. It was very congested in the back corner where the distance line was located as the course went through there twice. Additionally, the sun was in our eyes looking into that corner. It was so crowded that I didn't even realize the 8,9,10 serpentine wasn't a straight line of jumps until I sat down to watch the teams before us run. Luckily, I was able to modify my running plan and still execute it well. Belle's Time = 34.65s; 4th Place.
Sunday. Round 7: There was some talk that this would be a simple U-shaped course run just for fun and speed. Since I was not running until the end of the order and I knew Belle and I would not be running in the final round, I was very pleased to see it was a regular course. I quickly decided how I was going to run most of the course, but I couldn't make up my mind how best to start. Belle on right? Belle on left? Release her while I was still moving? Lead out, stop and release? I finally decided to open with her on my right and to release her while I was running. I wanted to generate as much speed as possible on this one. I was a little slow getting into position in a couple of spots and was basically in Belle's way, so I really pushed for a fast finish, running behind her while she was on the dogwalk, yelling "GO!" Go she did, missing the yellow by a couple of inches. Oops! Bad handler. Should have yelled "Touch!" Belle's Time = 36.00s; Course Faults = 10.