Kasilof musher Tobie Hansen harnesses a dog Saturday before leaving for a 50-mile training run in the Caribou Hills. Hansen will be a rookie in this year's Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race scheduled to start Saturday.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
While some people may like to slowly wade into the waters of sled dog racing, 18-year-old Tobie Hansen of Kasilof is more of a cannonball-into-the-deep-end kind of guy.
“Tim (Osmar) and Lance (Mackey) and everyone said just jump right in, so that’s what I’m gonna do,” Hansen said before taking off on a 50-mile training run Saturday. He is signed up to run the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race this weekend.
“It’s my first big race, so I’m a little nervous, but I think I can handle it,” he said.
Hansen has been mushing for just over a year. He is a next-door neighbor of 2005 Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey and Hansen is dating Nicole Osmar the 2004 Junior Iditarod champion and daughter of Tim Osmar, a 20 year Iditarod veteran. As such, he said he was almost destined to end up behind a sled.
“You can’t hang around all them and not end up running a dog or two, but Nicole really inspired me. After her win, I really wanted to give mushing a try and see if I was any good,” he said.
Hansen, although a rookie, has logged many miles by dogsled this season.
“I’ve been training hard for it. I’ve probably got about 1,200-1,300 miles in, so I think I’m pretty prepared. I hope I am, anyway,” he said.
Hansen said he also hopes all the training will pay off literally during the T-200 race, which has a guaranteed minimum purse of $25,000.
“I’m hoping to do good. My main goal is just to finish, but it’s a race and I’m going to be racing,” he said.
Hansen said that in addition to the competition which includes two past Iditarod champions weather and unforeseen factors can alter the performance of even the fastest and strongest dog teams. He was confident without being cocky about how he might do in the race.
“I’ve got young dogs, but good ones, so I’m hoping for a top ten finish, but who knows. I think not racing before will be my weakness, but I think learning from Timmy (Osmar) will be a real strength,” he said.
Hansen said he also is excited about taking part in his hometown race.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I was born and raised here and have watched the race every year, and now I’ve decided it was time to do more than just watch,” he said.
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