Featured in the July/Aug 2008 Issue: I am Doug Frank. I am 16 years old and I live in Lodi, Ohio with my family. My sister, Courtney Frank (17), our parents and I traveled to Alaska to race this past racing season. This is our story.Our family has been racing sled dogs since 2002. In the fifth grade Courtney and her school class did a project on the Iditarod. Courtney was very interested in this sport and started to ask my parents, Gary and Lisa, Iditarod-related questions. To our surprise, my father was a musher when he was young. His whole family was involved in this sport; his parents and two brothers raced sled dogs throughout the 1970s. After a lot of asking and begging we finally were able to convince Dad to let us start our own kennel. During the summer of 2002 we had purchased 10 Alaskan huskies with the hopes of Courtney and me running in the two dog junior class and my father running in the six-dog class. My mom would keep everything rolling smoothly and make sure were heading in the right direction. Our first year was an eye opener because we had no clue what a race would be like. Our first race was in Pennsylvania and it was all head-on passing. Luckily we were the only two-dog drivers. We had some issues on the trails but we handled them well and we both decided we wanted to keep racing.We currently have 18 racing hound crosses, two retirees, and three house dogs that we do agility with. We usually start to train in late October or November depending on the weather. We train our dogs on a three mile loop mostly on hay fields using a quad. Of course we have to run our dogs more than three miles so we eventually have to start making the teams run multiple laps which can sometimes make things challenging. During the past two years we have had to travel to Michigan to train on sleds because we didn’t want our first time back on a sled be at a race. This season we competed in four races prior to leaving on our Northern Excursion. All of these races were in Michigan. In years past we have raced in New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada. This season we raced at Kalkaska, Kinross, Newberry and Mackinaw. The closest race to home was Kalkaska which is an eight hour drive one way. We finished well but were still concentrating on the northern trip. Two years ago my family and I started planning for the biggest trip of our lives: Alaska. We were going. We had to. We just had to experience it at least once as a family. Finally, after two years of planning, we left on February 14th, 2008. I turned 16 and Courtney turned 17 years old on February 15th in the truck on our way to Alaska. On our seventh day of travel, we reached the Alaskan-Canadian Border, and at about 10 pm we reached our destination, the Comfort Inn in Fairbanks, Alaska. On Thursday we drove to the Jeff Studdert Race Grounds where the Junior North American Championships and Limited North American Championships are held. We trained our teams, and we were amazed at the quality of the trail. We were preparing for our first Alaskan race, the North Pole Championship, which was the following weekend. Our first race weekend had come and gone so fast I barely had time to realize that I was actually racing in Alaska, the sled dog capital of the world. Courtney and I both ran in the four dog class and Dad was in the six. We soon began to get a routine down throughout the week. Mondays were all for homework. We were missing six weeks of school and our teachers e-mailed us our assignments. Tuesdays and Wednesdays we trained, Thursdays we went sightseeing and Friday through Sunday we raced. Our second weekend was the JNAC. Dad told us that we got to run the best dogs because we only had to put together two teams instead of the usual four. My brother, Justin, who races around home, could not come on the trip. Courtney decided that since she was old enough she would run a six dog team instead of four. I liked this because we were not competing against each other, but I didn’t like it because I wanted to run a bigger team as well! Everything went well, the race was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed myself. As the week went on I started to get more and more nervous about this next weekend’s race – The Limited North American Championships. This is the big one for limited class sprint drivers and I was anxious. As the week went on we trained and got as prepared as I thought I could be, and I was. Courtney stayed in the six dog class and Dad and I ran in the four dog class. This race was a lot of fun and it was one of my favorite races. It was bittersweet, though. The LNAC was our last race in Alaska, but we planned to stay and watch the big boys run the Open North American Championship race. We were so excited to see all of the open drivers that we always only heard about before our trip. With the time we had between the LNAC and ONAC we had some time to do some sight-seeing. We went to the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, saw the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, northern lights, visited some nearby kennels and we went to Ice Alaska – an international ice carving championship.Finally it was here, the ONAC. On Friday we watched the start and then headed to the Noyes Slough near Creamers Field. It was amazing to see how fast the teams were moving and how many ways the drivers handled their blazing teams. We found all of the mushers and Alaskans to be very nice and eager to talk with us about the trip and the different ways dogs are run back in Ohio. Our last day in Alaska was the Sunday of the Open North American. We attended the musher’s banquet on Sunday night and on Monday morning (Saint Patrick’s Day) we were on our way back to Ohio. The trip home was quite a bit faster than the trip there, even though we put a sign up at Watson Lake’s Signpost Forest and stopped and enjoyed Liard Hot Springs at 17 degrees. We were home at 4 am Easter Sunday, and it was nice to be home but I would have rather of been racing at Tok. We had a great trip to Alaska and I am really glad we did it. Courtney and I wish to thank to everyone who helped us on our trip to Alaska and for making us welcome. But most of all we need to thank our parents because without them we would have never been able to become involved in this great sport. Doug Frank is 16 years old and will soon be a junior at Norwayne High School. When Doug is not sled dog racing he competes in dog agility with his three year old sheltie, Luke. Doug also enjoys; motocross, paintball, college football, vehicles and playing video games.Doug’s sister, Courtney Frank, is 17 years old. Courtney also does competitive agility with her 3 year old Sheltie Chino. She attends Norwayne High school and will be a senior. Courtney runs Cross Country for her school and loves the sport of racing dogs.


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