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Story Last modified at 10:08 p.m. on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fast dogs, cold temps

BY MATT TUNSETH
Alaska Star

photo:News

Deb Cropper, representing GRRdwood Pets and Green Goods, heads out onto the trail at the start of the businessperson's race at the Chugiak Dog Mushing Association's Beach Lake Trails on Jan. 15. Cropper was one of 11 amateur mushers who braved subzero temperatures for the two-mile sprint race.
Photo by Matt Tunseth

Sue Weimer got her nickname before the annual businessperson's sled dog race at the Beach Lake Trails even began. She lived up to it midway through the annual three-dog race on Jan. 15.

In the days leading up to the race, her friends at Ravenwood Vet Clinic, where she's a volunteer, dubbed Weimer "Wipeout" after the classic 1963 song. So she showed up at the starting line dressed in bright Hawaiian clothing to go along with the surf-music theme of the team, which was sponsored by the clinic's owner, musher and vet Susan Wagnon.

The name proved to be fitting when her sled tipped, sending Weimer crashing to the ground.

"The sled tipped, but miraculously the snow hook came out and hooked itself in the snow," she said.

Expecting her team to be barreling down the trail without her, Weimer looked up from her spill only to see the dogs standing on the trail right in front of her.

"So I hopped back on, took the hook up and went on my way," she said.

Weimer's fall didn't help her standings in the two-mile sprint race. She finished dead last among the 11 competitors who braved sub-zero temperatures for the race, which serves as a fundraiser for the Chugiak Dog Mushers Association, said board president Lexi Hill.

"It serves multiple purposes," Hill said. "It's a way to publicize mushing around the community and also to give various community and business people a chance to try it out."

Anchorage nutritionist/trainer Kevin Thomas entered the race at the urging of one of his clients, local musher Val Jokela.

"Actually, I'm her trainer and now she's training me," at mushing, Thomas said.

Thomas said he first ran dogs with Jokela last winter, and returned to race this time around because it was so much fun.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "It's fun when you have a great trainer."

Thomas said he likely won't take up mushing full time because he has limited space in the city, but Jokela said that shouldn't keep anyone from trying the sport.

"You don't have to have a lot of dogs to have fun," said Jokela, who owns Valkur Kennels. "You could actually have three dogs in Anchorge and a sled, and go all the time."

Wasilla physical therapist Jade Ekle (Healthwise Care Center) won the race, whipping around the course in just six minutes, 11 seconds to edge Alana Lord of the Rural Discount Center. Ekle said it was his first time running dogs, but hopefully not the last.

"I've always kinda liked the idea of mushing," Ekle said.

Ekle's wife, Christine, said her husband has been bitten by the mushing bug.

"He asked for a sled for Christmas," she said.

Funds raised through race sponsorship fees go toward the association's expenses and help fund the purse for the Eagle River Classic, which was also held over the weekend.

In the two-day Classic open-class race, Willow musher Bill Kornmuller defended his 2010 championship to claim the $1,300 top prize. Kornmuller mushed his 16-dog team to a one-minute lead over Daryl Hollingsworth on Day 1, then held on with 15 dogs on Day 2 to best Hollingsworth by 47 seconds overall.

The win was Kornmuller's fifth Classic title, putting him two victories in front of three-time winners Neal Johnson and Charlie Champaign.

Lexi Hill said Kornmuller's biggest competition for the 28-mile race could be from his own family. His son, Will, finished less than three minutes behind in third place – a big jump from last year's 10th place finish.

photo:News

Sue "Wipeout" Weimer takes off during the start of the businessperson's race at Beach Lake Trails on Jan. 15. Weimer, who was racing for Ravenwood Vet Clinic, fell off her sled during the race. Luckily, her snow hook grabbed the trail, keeping her dogs close and allowing her to finish the race.
STAR PHOTO by Matt Tunseth

"We used to see Will just running in front of his dad's team, helping to bring them to the line," Hill said.

In the six-dog, eight-mile race held on Jan. 15, Kris Rasey won a narrow victory over Steve Cole, who was just three seconds slower. Bev Stevens was third.

Contact Matt Tunseth at matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com or 694-2727, Ext. 215.

CDMA Eagle River Classic

At Beach Lake Trails

Open Class

Jan. 15-16, 28 miles

Two-day times (prize money) – 1. Bill Kornmuller, 1:24:36 ($1,300); 2. Daryl Hollingsworth, 1:25:23 ($1,000); 3. Will Kornmuller, 1:27:14 ($800); 4. Ed Wood, 1:27:26 ($700); 5. Jeff Barnhart, 1:30:41 ($600); 6. Eddie Dayton, 1:32:48 ($500); 7. Bob Clupach, 1:35:10 ($350); 8. Wayne Curtis, 2:11:07 ($300); 9. Pam Aviza, 2:22:39 ($250); 10. Leslie Morrison, 2:23:56 ($200); 11. Philip Walters, 2:31:18.

6-dog Class (8 miles) – 1. Kris Rasey, 27:12; 2. Steve Cole, 27:15; 3. Bev Stevens, 28:41; 4. Susan Cantor, 28:50; 5. Norm Hayashi, 29:50; 6. Kathie Barnhart, 31:08; 7. Debora Summers, 31:44; 8. Greg Rhyne, 51:21.

Businessperson's race

At Beach Lake Trails

Jan. 15, 2 mile

1. Jade Ekle, Healthwise Care Center, 6:11; 2. Alana Lord, Rural Discount Center, 6:51; 3. Nick Travis, Chepo's, 6:57; 4. Shoey Ko, Healthwise Care Center, 7:05; 5. Kevin Thomas, Attitude Fitness, 7:43; 6. Tamara Tanner, Diabetes and Lipid Clinic, 7:45; 7. Sarah Smart, Ravenwood Vet Clinic, 8:02; 8. Samantha Bennett, Summit Family Practice, 8:19; 9. Robert Haus, Aero-Metric, 8:25; 10. Deb Cropper, GRRdwood Pets and Green Goods, 8:51; 11. Sue Weimer, Ravenwood Vet Clinic, 9:20.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.