Small dogs show power in soft snow

Anderson wins T-200

Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007


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  Ken Anderson, of Fairbanks, finished the 2007 T-200 in 19 hours, 53 minutes. Photo by Joseph Robertia

Danny Seavey's lead dogs work at the start of the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race on Saturday in Kasilof.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Sometimes, the little guys come out on top.

Ken Anderson, of Fairbanks, running a team of smaller-sized dogs, pulled through the soft conditions in the Caribou Hills to win the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race on Sunday.

“It was soft and warm. I think that’s really hard on the big dogs,” Anderson said after crossing the finish line at the Tustumena Lodge at 7:53 p.m.

Clam Gulch musher Dean Osmar followed Anderson across the finish line at 8:03 p.m., and Mitch Seavey of Sterling was third, coming off the trail at 8:26 p.m.

“All my little dogs — I think it was an advantage for me,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he thought the warm temperatures might have taken more out of the teams of larger dogs, while his team of mostly young dogs handled the conditions with aplomb. Anderson encountered some rain Saturday night, and dealt with some small drifts on the way home Sunday.

“It was a slow slog of a trail,” Anderson said.

Anderson notched his first Tustumena 200 win in his second time running the race. He also ran the race in 2004. He was running what he called his “B” team, and said he was scratching his head a little as to just how he left some impressive competition behind.

“This was this team’s toughest race. These finishers did really, really well,” Anderson said.

Osmar also was pleased with the performance of his team. He said he dropped a pair of his larger dogs, both 65-pounders, because they were punching through in the soft conditions and weren’t as agile as the smaller members of his team.

Osmar was making up ground at the end of the race, though he didn’t have quite enough trail left to catch Anderson.

“I think if he had seen my headlamp, he would have kicked it into another gear,” Osmar said of his pursuit.

“It would have been nice to have finally won this race after so many years of trying. It was a really tough field. ... There are a lot of good people back there, trying really hard, too.”

Osmar said the trail through the hills was the best-marked trail he had ever been on, and passed on his compliments to the race volunteers who put out the markers.

Seavey said he had his top dogs from his Iditarod team in the race, and his plan had been to use the race as a long training run.

“I didn’t push them at all. We just cruised along, like we were training,” Seavey said.

Seavey passed several teams after leaving the checkpoint at Rocky’s Straight Inn, 70 miles from the finish. He said his team maintained a consistent speed throughout the race, a key to a good finish in a distance race.

“I was slow at first, but the same speed ends up being fast at the end,” Seavey said.


Ken Anderson, of Fairbanks, finished the 2007 T-200 in 19 hours, 53 minutes.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

He said he was most happy to have finished with his full team.

“I started with 12 and finish with 12. ... The thing I’m happiest with is I got them all around,” Seavey said.

The Tustumena 100 was a close contest, with just 10 minutes between first and third place. Bill Steyer of Homer pulled through for the win, edging Kasilof’s Jason Mackey by three minutes. Mike Barnett of Kasilof, running a team of Jon Little’s dogs, was third, 10 minutes back.

Mackey had been the first musher into the halfway point at Caribou Lake, with Steyer arriving three minutes later. However, when times were adjusted for the starting order, Steyer got to leave first, at 12:04 a.m., while Mackey pulled out one minute later. Barnett began his pursuit at 12:25 a.m.

Mackey and Steyer found themselves breaking trail through chest-deep drifts from Caribou Lake to Four Corners, taking turns leading their teams through the deep snow on foot.

Mackey, Barnett and Steyer arrived within a minute of each other at the final checkpoint before sorting things out over the last 25 miles of trail.

In the 50-mile Junior T, Ninilchik’s Merissa Osmar edged Daniel Osmar by 17 minutes. Patrick Mackey finished third.

Jessica Hendricks, the two-time defending champion, pushed to the front early in the race. Hendricks, from Two Rivers, was the first musher to the halfway point at the Clam Gulch Lodge, arriving just before 1 a.m. Sunday. She opted to push through to the halfway point while much of the field opted to rest at Rocky’s Straight Inn, the checkpoint 70 miles into the race. Race rules require mushers to take four hours of rest at Rocky’s, though they may choose to do it in the first half of the race or on the way home, or split their mandatory rest between stops.

Kasilof musher Colleen Robertia also pushed through to the halfway point and was second into the Clam Shell at 1:18 a.m. Ken Anderson and Judy Currier checked in at the Clam Shell at 3:01 a.m. after each took three hours of mandatory rest at Rocky’s.

Currier was the first out of Rocky’s for the final 70-mile push for home, leaving a minute ahead of Anderson at 12:37 p.m. Hendricks had to wait for 49 minutes to complete her mandatory rest before entering the chase. During that span, three other mushers were able to head back out on the trail. Osmar was the third musher to leave Rocky’s for the finish line, checking out at 1:10 p.m., followed by Ramy Brooks at 1:18 p.m. and Aliy Zirkle at 1:21 p.m.

Tustumena 200 results as of 9:45 p.m. Sunday (musher, hometown, time of finish) — 1. Ken Anderson, Fairbanks, 7:53 p.m.; 2. Dean Osmar, Clam Gulch, 8:03 p.m.; 3. Mitch Seavey, Sterling, 8:26 p.m.; 4. Jessica Hendricks, Two Rivers, 8:27 p.m.; 5. Judy Currier, Two Rivers, 8:31 p.m.; 6. Aliy Zirkle, Two Rivers, 8:42 p.m.; 7. Ramey Smyth, Houston, 8:43 p.m.; 8. Danny Seavey, Sterling, 9:22 p.m.; 9. Ramy Brooks, Healy, 9:32 p.m.; 10. Colleen Robertia, 9:51 p.m.

Tustumena 100 results (musher, hometown, time of finish) — 1. Bill Steyer, Homer, 5:52 a.m.; 2. Jason Mackey, Kasilof, 5:55 a.m.; 3. Mike Barnett, Kasilof, 6:02 a.m.; 4. Kent Kaltenbacher, Wasilla, 6:14 a.m.; 5. Jane Faulkner, Kasilof, 6:16 a.m.; 6. Austin Keith, Clam Gulch, 6:21 a.m.; 7. Louis Bissonette, Fairbanks, 6:44 a.m.; 8. Brennan Norden, Kasilof, 6:55 a.m.; 9. Jeff Szarzi, Homer, 7:05 a.m.; 10. Randy Chappel, Two Rivers, 7:11 a.m.; 11. Jason Cameron, Homer, 7:51 a.m.

Junior T (musher, hometown, time of finish) — 1. Merissa Osmar, Ninilchik, 11:43 p.m. Saturday; 2. Daniel Osmar, Ninilchik, midnight Saturday; 3. Patrick Mackey, Kasilof, 1:50 a.m. Sunday.

Will Morrow can be reached at

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