Fur Rondy Races Begin in Anchorage

Diana Haecker, KTNA – Talkeetna

The Fur Rendezvous open world championship sled dog race got underway today in Anchorage with the fastest dog teams in the world competing for Rondy champion. The event started in 1946 and is the centerpiece of the annual Fur Rondy festivities in Anchorage.

Christine Tozier, president of the Alaska Sled dog Association says the event is a tradition that is in her blood.

The Fur Rondy is held in three heats spread over three days. Mushers race down the 25-mile trail that leads them through an urban landscape, to Campbell Airstrip and back.

Defending champion Blayne Streeper has his eyes set on a sixth victory.

Streeper explains the allure of the Fur Rondy race.

Also competing are four-time champion Egil Ellis, and well-known mushers like Bill Kornmuller, Arleigh Reynolds and Jason Dunlap.

Ryan Housler traveled all the way from Russian Mission to fulfill his Rondy dream. Housler snowmachined his dogs from Russian Mission to Bethel and then flew into Anchorage.

Several mushers well-known for racing long distance sled dog competitions also decided to give speed mushing a try. Jake Berkowitz, Aaron Burmeister and Ryan Redington.

Berkowitz said he just enjoys dog mushing and wanted to try something new, although he said he won’t be serious competition for the others. Burmeister is racing a team out of the Streeper Kennel.

While results of the first day are no indication of the final outcome, Arliegh Reynolds won the first heat of the 2011 Fur Rondy. Coming in second was Blyne Streeper and in third Agil Ellis.

The Fur Rendezvous open world championships continue on Saturday and Sunday and starts at noon.

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