FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Dog Mushers Association sprint championship season got started with a bang Saturday as 22 sled dog teams and 12 skijorers hit the trail in the Annamaet Pet Foods Gold Run at the Jeff Studdert Racegrounds.
After a shaky preliminary season because of cold temperature and poor trail conditions because of lack of snow, conditions were just about perfect Saturday with a good trail and temperatures ranging from 7 below to about 5 above during Saturday’s competition.
The two-day race continues at 11 a.m. today with the skijoring class hitting the trail at two-minute intervals, followed by the four-dog class, the six-dog class and the 10-dog class.
The six-dog class had the most competitors with 11 entrants and the top five finishers are within a minute of each other heading into today’s final 8.1-mile heat.
Ami Gjestson was the only musher who broke the 24-minute barrier Saturday as she posted a winning time of 23 minutes, 53.7 seconds.
Dawn Brown grabbed the runner-up spot with a run of 24:11.4, with Bonnie Borba in third at 24:13.9, Jennifer Probert-Erhart in fourth at 24:30.1 and Greg Sellentin rounds out the top five at 25:51.6.
Probert-Erhart is the only musher racing in all three classes.
Brown also is racing in the four-dog class where she leads five teams after a run of 19:46.9 on the 6.2-mile trail.
Patricia Hnatuik is in second place in the four-dog class with a time of 20:15.7 and Probert Erhart is third in 20:38.3.
Six teams raced in the 10-dog class where Jason Dunlap has a lead of 6.1 seconds over Probert-Erhart.
Dunlap completed his 12.5-mile run in 37:57.9, while Probert-Erhart came in at 38:04.0. Mari Hoe-Raitto is third in 39:03.7, just 11.5 seconds ahead of Ed Arobio (39.15.2).
Greg Jurek leads a field of 12 mushers in the two-dog skijoring event after a great run of 19:32.8 on a chilly trail Saturday morning.
Jamie Johnson holds down the second spot at 20:16.3, with Rebecca Knight (21:10.2), Christina Turman (21:26.0) and Emilie Entrikin (32:30.1), rounding out the top five.
Many of the competitors in Saturday’s race also will be racing in the International Federation of Sleddog Sports World Championships later this month and throughout March in North Pole, Salcha and Fairbanks.
The event gets started with the Junior North American and IFSS Junior four-dog class from Feb. 26-28 at Morning Star Park off Badger Road in North Pole. The IFSS limited class and two-dog skijor championships are scheduled for March 1-3 at Morning Star Park, with a week of skijor and pulka races set for March 4-7 at the Darrell Coe Racing Trails at Salcha Elementary School.
The ADMA Limited North American Championships and the IFSS Mid-Distance Championships are March 8-10 at the Jeff Studdert Racegrounds and the GCI Open North American and IFSS Open Championships are March 15-17 in downtown Fairbanks.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.