Apparently the surest way to get a good dump of September snow in Fairbanks is to schedule a dryland skijoring race! Despite several inches of sloppy snow and below freezing temperatures, sixteen competitors, twenty-eight dogs, seven volunteers, two photographers and an unknown number of spectators turned out for the Alaska Skijoring and Pulk Association’s 2nd Annual Dryland Race. To add to the overall atmosphere of excitement, the local Boy Scouts were having a camp-out near the start/finish area. They offered additional encouragement and cheers to racers. The race course even traveled a few feet from the porta-potties making it a bit of an obstacle course for racers and porta-potty users alike! The several inches of overnight snow turned the usually firm gravel trail on the Army Corp of Engineers Chena Flood Control Project into a sloppy, wet, muddy slog. Racers traveled out to their designated half-way point, turned around and returned to the start/finish line, giving dogs and drivers lots of challenging head-on passing. There were three events, with two classes in each event. The first event, Canicross or Run-joring, featured a mass start of runners using 1 or 2 dogs. Runners could go two, four or six miles. Hilary Schwafel with Wizard & Frieda easily outdistanced the competition in the 2-mile class with a time of 14:13. Sara Elzey with Ayla and Carol Kleckner with Ivy and Yanert rounded out the class. Yanert, wearing a harness for the first time refused to pull the entire way! The 6-mile mile class was more closely contested. Janna Miller with Roy and Lily finished ahead of Jodi Bailey and Jake with times of 42:03 and 43:52 respectively. Lisa Stuby and Killae also completed 6 miles but due a stop watch malfunction their final time was not recorded. But Lisa testifies that it “felt really good, maybe 50 minutes or so.” Bruce Miller took Roy and Lily for a second run after his wife Janna finished, completing “around 3 miles” in 19:57. Having completed the Equinox Ultra-marathon last week he was just out for a “casual fun run.” The Bike-joring Event had the most competitors. In this event bikers competed in an interval start race using 1 or 2 dogs. There were two distance classes, 3 or 6 miles. In the 3-mile class Curtis McNeill with Rouen and Brown raced away from the competition in a time of 11:30. Hilary Schwafel with Oliver finished second in 15:19. Sara Elzey with Dylan, competing together for the first time together, had a miscommunication a few hundred feet out from the start line. Sara headed down the trail on the right-hand side of the porta-potties while Dylan thought that going around the left-hand side looked like a better choice. Fortunately (depending on your perspective) the first porta-potty was occupied so it did not tip over when they “clothes-lined” it! According to spectators it was a spectacular crash! But thanks to God, both Sara and Dylan were not injured and continued on in the race finishing in 17:39 to take third place. The rest of the McNeill family, Doreen and Charlie with Snowball and Little Guy traveled part of the race course together finishing in 19:53 and 21:29 respectively. Tom Bachert with Duke rounded out the class in 23:37. Tom vacillated between taking 1 or 2 dogs, deciding at the last minute that Duke would run better without his kennel-mate. The 6-mile Bike-joring class had only two competitors brave enough to battle the mud for the full length of the course. Tom St Clair with Indy and Ben Good with Bull and Piper finished in 27:32 and 37:45 respectively. The final event of the day was the Cart Class. There were no competitors in the 6-mile class. Competitors in the 3-mile class could compete with up to 4-dogs pulling a non-motorized, wheeled vehicle or cart. Andy Warwick and his enthusiastic black and white team of Zip, Boots, Licorice and Joba finish first in 13:01. Don Morton with his three chocolate labs, Cocoa, Reeses, and Toffee, finished second in 24:35. With his tall, upright cart, Don managed to keep his bib nearly free of mud. Lynn Orbison with Scooby Doo and Regime was not quite as lucky. Her cart rode low to the ground with Lynn riding in a seated position. Her face, goggles, and bib were coated with mud by the time she finished. In spite of that, she said that she was “having so much fun” that she went an “extra mile or so” and finished in 19:55. This event could not have happened with the work of volunteers! Thanks so much to race organizers; Andy Warwick and Sara Elzey, event timers; Sara Tabbert, Janet Smith, and Lisa St Clair; handlers and helpers; Wallace Bandeff, Tom & Tanka and to Cindy Bachert for helping with registration. Also thanks to Scott Chesney for taking photographs and to the Army Corp of Engineers for hosting the event. Race prizes were donated by Alaska Skijoring & Pulk Association sponsors, Howling Dog Enterprises, Cold Spot Feed, and Canine Caviar.


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