Energy levels were in full force at the Beach Lake Park dog trails Saturday, Jan. 11.
It was the first session of the Chugiak Dog Mushers Association’s two-day Eagle River Classic Sled Dog Race, and the parking lot was filled with campers and trucks.
And dogs, which were everywhere: Tied to truck bumpers and campers and peeking out from kennels.
The race offered competition in skijor, one-, four-, six-, eight- and open-class.
Kris Rasey drives her dogs to training runs and competitions in a camper with a “Summer Sucks” sticker on the back. She’s been mushing for what she says feels like forever.
“Twelve years, I think,” she said.
She also grooms her own dogs.
She started out skijoring. Then, she acquired more dogs. And a few more.
So she began mushing instead. Now, she absolutely loves it.
“It’s borderline suicidal,” she laughed.
She runs her dogs about three times a week. They’re all house dogs, too.
All 21 of them.
She has a large, 2.5 acre dog area on her property.
“In the morning, I pick up poop and again in the evening,” Rasey said, as she loaded some of her dogs into the camper. “It’s a full-time job.”
She normally races in the four-, six- or 8-dog class.
The open class, she said, is more of an Iditarod-type of race. The teams are bigger and the mushers pace their dogs. The shorter class races, mushers don’t typically pace their dogs, she said.
“We pretty much go full-ass out,” she laughed.
Eagle River’s Alea Robinson, a freshman in college, has been mushing for 15 years. She competed in the six-dog class.
The race went pretty well, she said after the first day of the two-day competition.
“The trails were good,” she said. “There was some overflow and that made it interesting.”
She leaned over to pet her lead dog, Coho, on the head. Coho is a spunky 3-year-old with an intelligent face.
Robinson has competed in the Junior Iditarod. She prefers long-distance racing.
“But sprint racing is great, too,” she said.
Ashner Engeberg, 6, was the winner of the one-dog children’s race.
The competition took place over a looped quarter-mile trail.
“It was fun,” he said. “It didn’t feel fast at all.”
Ashner has only been racing for two years. He likes mushing fast.
“Really fast,” he said.
His mother, Amy Engeberg, competed in the four-dog race. This is her first year racing.
She became interested in mushing a few years ago when the family was out at Eklutna Lake and came across musher Lois Rockcastle out running her dogs on the trails.
She asked Engeberg if they would like to take a ride.
They did — and that was that.
“It was so much fun,” Engeberg said.
It’s also a good family activity, and a way to get them out of the house in the winter.
“We can all do it instead of sitting around watching TV,” she said.
The presently have of their own dogs.
“The dogs live in the house,” Engeberg laughed. “They’re part of the family. They have very unique personalities.”
They’re also, she added, very, very athletic.
Eagle River Classic at Beach Lake
Cheechako — 1. Rachel Munoz, 7:45; 2. Hannelor Kellihor, 9:02.
1-dog skijor — 1. Theresa Klecktart, 23:41; 2. Rebecca Knight, 24:37; Bud Rice, 26:02; 4. Kirsten Lippan, 28:33; 5. Ian Llewellyn, 31:34; 6. Patrick Tomco, DNF.
4-dog — 1. Pam Schamber, 27:20; 2. Norm Hayashi, 28:16; 3. Kris Rasey, 31:45; 4. Ian Llewellyn 32:04; 5. Yvette O’Connor, 37:29; 6. Lois Rockcastle, 37:45; 7. Amy Engeberg, 40:47.
6-dog — 1. Kim Wells, 39:20; 2. Kourosh Partow, 39:46; 3. Steve Cole, 40:53; 4. Kathy Faryniarz, 41:05; 5. Alea Robinson, 41:25; 6. Amy Maclean, 42:27; 7. Marek Harven, 53:14.
8-dog — 1. Kourosh Partow, 45:14; 2. Kris Rasey, 46:34; 3. Ken Chezik, 48:01; 4. Dalton Baines, 49:28; 5. Jason Dunlap, 50:09; 6. Debra Summers, 50:29; 7. Dan Hauskagen, 60:07; 8. Robert Forto, 75:21.
Open — 1. Ken Chezik, 78:27; 2. Jason Dunlap, 78:37; 3. Marvin Kokrine, 84:56; 4. Todd Whitcomb, 87:08; 5. Pam Aviza, 2:11:53.