Reynolds Repeats as Fur Rondy Sled Dog Race Victor – adn.com

From ADN

February 23, 2014

Arleigh Reynolds won the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship Sled Dog Race for the second time on Sunday, then announced that it would be his last Rondy race.

He picked up the first-place gold pan award with his 7-year-old lead dog, Guts, who ran her fifth Rondy. “She’s the reason we won,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said his duties as associate dean at the new school of veterinary medicine at the University of Alaska Fairbanks were among the reasons behind his decision to make this his final Rondy run.

The school is just starting. “We’re getting staff this year and taking students in 2015,” he said.

Mali, the lanky lead dog for five-time Rondy champ Egil Ellis, looked like she planned to give Guts a run for her money at the start, loping down Fourth Avenue so fast that Ellis lost his footing for a moment in front of the White Spot Cafe before quickly getting back on the runners.

The misstep didn’t do him any harm; Ellis turned in his fastest day time in the race and the fastest day time of any musher on Sunday. But it wasn’t enough to boost him out of third place. Kevin Cook beat him to the second-place gold pan trophy by 45 seconds.

Ken Chezik, the 2012 champ, improved on his Saturday time by more than seven minutes. He said his goal in this race was to finish in the top five, and with his Sunday performance, he was able to do just that, edging out Greg Taylor, who had held fifth place on the first and second day. Even though Taylor was five minutes faster than he’d been on Saturday, he wound up in 10th place for the day and sixth overall.

Most of the field ran notably faster on Sunday than on Saturday. James Wheeler, Bill Kornmuller and Dave Turner all posted their fastest day times of the race.

For Turner, it made a difference. He bested his Saturday time by 11 minutes and took 13th place back from Lance Mackey, the only musher to chalk up the slowest of his three day times on Sunday.

Mackey had said he was in the race to enjoy the fans.There seemed to be a special cheer when he crossed the finish line, arms in the air and smiling at the crowd. Before the race, he predicted that he would finish last, but that slot went to Jack Berry, who had the slowest times on both Saturday and Sunday.

The 2014 race will be remembered for its field of expert racers. The two rookies on the list were Mackey, who has won the Iditarod and Yukon Quest races four times apiece, and Turner, who earlier this month earned third place in brutal conditions in the International Pedigree State Stop Sled Dog Race in Wyoming.

It will also be remembered for the fact that not a single team scratched. There were relatively few incidents — moose encounters, tangles, loose dogs — that can cost precious minutes. Trail conditions, excellent from the start, remained very good on Sunday, with little wind on a brilliantly clear, sunny day. It was warm but temperatures remained below freezing.

The weather made for happy viewing as the crowd soaked in the sun on Fourth Avenue. The reverse-start procedure, by which the fastest mushers left last, meant the finish came quickly, with two and three teams often running together in the final blocks, in full view of those who lined the street.

Unlike long-distance races, it’s easy to catch both the start and finish of Fur Rondy. Between the time the mushers left and returned, hundreds of people were milling at the food kiosks and vendor booths on the street and at the Rondy carnival a block away.

And, as Mackey noted, mushing is the only major sport you can watch for free.

Fur Rendezvous Open World Championships

Final Results

Times for day one / day two / day three / total

1. Arleigh Reynolds, Salcha, 1:30:57 / 1:33:02 / 132:14 / 4:36:13

2. Kevin Cook, Preeceville, Saskatchewan, 1:32:43 / 1:33:43 / 1:32:21 / 4:38:47

3. Egil Ellis, Willow, 1:32:26 / 1:35:31 / 1:31:31 / 4:39:28

4. Jason Dunlap, Salcha, 1:32:55 / 1:35:34 / 1:33:28 / 4:41:57

5. Ken Chezik, Fife Lake, Mich., 1:34:42 / 1:42:36 / 1:35:14 / 4:52:32

6. Greg Taylor, Fairbanks, 1:33:40 / 1:43:07 / 1:38:20 / 4:55:07

7. John Erhart, (Tanana), 1:36:11 / 1:45:00 / 1:36:28 / 4:57:39

8. Marvin Kokrine, North Pole, 1:35:44 / 1:48:16 / 1:37:44 / 5:01:44

9. Donald Cousins, Crooked Creek, Alberta, 1:37:39 / 1:47:50 / 1:37:46 / 5:03:15

10. James Wheeler, Clam Gulch, 1:40:56 / 1:48:44 / 1:38:15 / 5:07:55

11. Bill Kornmuller, Willow, 1:42:59 / 1:46:57 /1:42:46 / 5:12:42

12. John Hanson, Jr., New Stuyahok, 1:41:21 / 1:50:14 / 1:43:58 / 5:15:33

13. Dave Turner, Sandy, Ore., 1:45:58 / 1:52:22 / 1:40:57 / 5:19:17

14. Lance Mackey, Fairbanks, 1:47:31 / 1:47:28 / 1:49:55 / 5:24:54

15. Jack Berry, Homer, 1:39:32 / 2:07:27 / 1:52:31 / 5:39:30

Reach Mike Dunham at mdunham@adn.com or 257-4332.

Reynolds’ Dogs Look Strong on Rondy’s First Day – adn.com

From ADN

February 21, 2014

Arleigh Reynolds showed he has the team to beat in this year’s Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship Sled Dog Race.

His sled was the seventh to leave the chute on Friday and the third to cross the finish line. Reynolds’ day time of 90 minutes, 57 seconds was a minute and a half faster than his closest competitor, five-time Rondy winner Egil Ellis.

Reynolds, a veterinarian and associate dean at the new animal medicine program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, won last year’s Rondy. His team of 14 was headed by two lead dogs, Guts, who was on last year’s winning team, and Stratus, who replaced last year’s co-leader Stock.

Ellis, who finished second last year, ran with just 10 dogs. It was the smallest team in the field.

Ellis said he planned to retire after last year, but hasn’t quite gotten there yet.

“I still have dogs, so why not run the Rondy?” he said. All 10 looked fresh as they returned and Ellis said he figured they’d all start on Saturday for the second of three heats that make up Rondy.

Less than 30 seconds separate Ellis from Kevin Cook and Jason Dunlap. Cook started with 18 dogs and Dunlap had 14.

Lance Mackey, running with what he described as “a puppy team,” started and finished in last place. The four-time Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion is competing in the Rondy race as a rookie. Health issues have kept him from signing up for the long-distance races this year.

Mackey said he was hoping to stay out of the way of the other racers and would be completely satisfied with claiming the Red Lantern.

All of the dogs on his team are related to his famed leader Zorro, Mackey said, but most are yearlings. They left the gate with the most enthusiasm of any team, bounding in the air. A double rooster-tail of snow sprayed up behind Mackey’s sled as he tore down Fourth Ave. They returned with tongues out, looking a little stunned.

Mushers described trail conditions for the 25-mile run as excellent. The run down Fourth Ave. was white and packed. Compared to the soft and gritty condition encountered in many years, it looked and felt like an ideal sled racetrack.

“The city ought to get some kind of award,” said race marshal Janet Clarke.

Not only were the streets in prime condition, but a propitious snowfall earlier this week and steady below-freezing temperatures had made it possible to groom the Alaska Sled Dog Racing Association trails into similar shape. The bike trails, which have to bear the traffic of skiers, pedestrians and winter cyclists, were not as good as the sled trails, she said, but still in very good order.

“The city has taken the cleaner snow from lesser-used streets and piled it in strategic locations for us,” she said.

The teams will leave in reverse order of their first day times from the starting line at Fourth and D St. at noon on Saturday, meaning that Mackey will leave first.

Reach Mike Dunham at mdunham@adn.com or 257-4332.

Fur Rendezvous World Championships
25 miles
Friday’s results

1. Arleigh Reynolds, Salcha, 90:57
2. Egil Ellis, Willow, 92:26
3. Kevin Cook, Preeceville, Saskatchewan, 92:43
4. Jason Dunlap, Salcha, 92:55
5. Greg Taylor, Fairbanks, 93:40
6. Ken Chezik, Fife Lake, Mich., 94:42
7. Marvin Kokrine, North Pole, 95:44
8. John Erhart, (Tanana), 96:11
9. Donald Cousins, Crooked Creek, Alberta, 97:39
10. Jack Berry, Homer, 99:32
11. James Wheeler, Clam Gulch, 100:56
12. John Hanson, New Stuyahok, 101:21
13. Bill Kornmuller, Willow, 102:59
14. Dave Turner, Sandy, Ore., 105:58
15. Lance Mackey, Fairbanks, 107:31

Chezik’s Blazing Run Decides ExxonMobil Open

From ADN

February 9, 2014

A blazing run in the second heat carried Ken Chezik to victory Sunday in the 40th running of the ExxonMobil Open sled dog race at Tozier Track.

Chezik, who was tied for second place after Saturday’s first heat, covered the 16.8-mile course in 55 minutes, 45 seconds. It was the fastest run over two days and it gave him a two-day total time of 1:52:48.

Chezik raced a team of 10 dogs, two fewer than Saturday.

Egil Ellis, who was deadlocked with Chezik going into Sunday’s competition, clocked 56:20 for a two-run total of 1:53:22. He drove a team of 12 dogs.

Jason Dunlap, the leader on Saturday, had Sunday’s fourth-fastest time, 55:57 with just eight dogs in harness. He finished third overall, five second behind Ellis.

In other races, Dawn Brown took the 8-dog victory, Jennifer Sterling topped the 6-dog class and Beverly Stevens set the pace in the 4-dog class.

Open-class mushers were racing for a purse of $24,000 in the Alaskan Sled Dog & Racing Association event.