PHOTO FINISH— Paul Gebhard, left, crosses the finish line on the first day of the Alaska Excursions 120 sled dog race, followed by Ryan Redington, who won the race. Photo by Diana Haecker
TALKEETNA— Sled dog racing began in earnest last weekend with three events taking place at the same time. Sprint mushers gathered at the Montana Creek Dog Musher’s track near Talkeetna and ran skijoring, limited class and open class races. Christian Taveau dominated the open class and bested Egil Ellis by 23 seconds on the 13-mile trail. Anchorage’s Kris Rasey won the eight-dog class, Beverly Stevens the six-dog class and Kim Wells won the skijor class.
In Big Lake, the Alaska Excursions 120 was held. The mid-distance sled dog race saw 38 mushers at the startline, with 29 teams finishing. The event had two heats, held on Saturday and Sunday, with mushers racing on a 44-mile trail each day. Ryan Redington won the race, setting a blistering speed on day one, holding on to his lead. Kasilof’s Paul Gebhard came in second, Hugh Neff placed third. Local mushers Matt Hayashida and Nils Hahn also participated and placed sixth and thirteenth respectively.
Lance Mackey won the Sheep Mountain 150 sled dog race, Jake Berkowitz placed second and last year’s winner Jessica Hendricks placed third.