The Peninsula Sled Dog and Racing Association's 20th annual Businessman's Race was held Saturday on the trail network adjacent to the Soldotna airport.
A fund raiser for PSDRA and for charities chosen by the top three finishers, the annual event was filled with thrills and a few spills. Eighteen teams entered the race, representing a wide variety of businesses and organizations from the peninsula.
Experience was not required, and in fact, was not allowed. Most mushers participating in the event had never been on a sled.
A quick "Sled Riding 101" lesson was all they got before standing on the runners behind three excited sled dogs. Each team then went twice around the 1/2-mile loop through the woods.
Maria Ismael, representing Soldotna dentist Dr. Hu's office where she works sterilizing instruments, was the winner with a total time of 2:28.
Ismael came across the line with a big grin. "It was my first time with a dog team. What a fantastic feeling, snow in my face, I really felt like I was in a race. It felt like 10 dogs!" she said.
When asked what she thought of winning, Ismael said she was just there for fun.
Tied for second place, with a time of 2:43 were John Lesterson and Kevin Rigby. Lesterson was representing Dennis Maloney, Litigator for the Little People, and Rigby represented Central Peninsula General Hospital's Radiology Department.
Lesterson, a retired guide, said of running the team, "It's a rush! I was really jacked up for the second run. It was a whole lot more fun that I thought it would be and all for a good cause."
Rigby, a sophomore at Soldotna High School, was celebrating his 16th birthday, and had a fantastic time. Parents June and Dean Rigby, along with his two younger sisters, were their cheering him on.
Rigby ran a team owned by musher Jeremy Malloy. Malloy asked Rigby if he wanted to go fast or slow, and Rigby replied "fast."
"I'll give you the powerhouses, then," Malloy said, and hooked up the team.
After a fast first run, Malloy asked if Rigby wanted to go faster, and gave him tips on starting and kicking up the hill. When Rigby left for his second run, Malloy was ecstatic.
"I told him how to do it, and he did it just right!" he said.
Rigby's mother June said she was still thrilled by the experience. "Its wonderful to see the dogs, and the great care given them. It's smart using three-dog teams so nobody dies."
The charity portion of the proceeds was designated by the winners to go to the United Pentecostal Church of Sterling and the Make a Wish Foundation.
Dogs, sleds and other gear were provided by PSDRA members Bill and Patti Berkhahn, Rob Sparks, Jeremy Malloy, Mitch Michaud, Susan Anderson, and Phil and Gail Hoekman.
Susan Anderson is a PSDRA member.
Peninsula Sled Dog and Racing
Association Businessman's Race
Results (Place, time, musher, business) 1. (2:28)Maria Ismael,Dr. Hu, DDS; 2. (2:43) John Lesterson, Dennis Maloney, Litigator for the Little People; 2. (tie) (2:43) Kevin Rigby , Central Peninsula General Hospital Radiology Department; 4. (2:44) Derek Crane, Spenard Builders Supply; 5. (2:50) Bill Miller , Dr. Boling, Surgeon;
6. (2:52) Jared Ison, Sweeney's Clothing; 7. (2:58) Dave Gilbreath, CEO of Central Peninsula General Hospital; 8. (3:02) Jerry Ralston, Freedom Realty; 9. (3:10) Tom Boedecker, City of Soldotna; 10. (3:20) Rachel Nunamaker, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy;
11. (3:28) Stephanie Sims, Dr. Kobylarz, Binkley Street Dental; 12. (3:46) Peter Waldo, Dr. McCarten, Kenai Veterinary Hospital; 13. (4:21) Samatha Dalebout, Mizera's Steamway Services; 14. (4:39) Susan Fore, VFW-Women's Auxilary; 15. (4:40) Meg Mueller, U.S.D.A.;
16. (5:28) Glenda Feeken, Remax of the Peninsula; 17. (NTA) Ross Baxter, Choice Realty; 18. (NTA) Suzie Nelson, Suzie's Cafe in Sterling
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