Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for March 6, 2013

Musher’s perfect season continues with win at Fox Lake

Mandy Pearson may have won Saturday’s sled dog race at Fox Lake, but it was her younger sister Rena Marie McCaw who stole the show.

Mandy Pearson may have won Saturday’s sled dog race at Fox Lake, but it was her younger sister Rena Marie McCaw who stole the show.

Pearson won the 10-mile Twister sled dog race on her home turf in a quick 27:48, finishing more than three minutes ahead of runner-up Matthieu Devred (31:10).

Pearson’s partner, Armin Johnson, finished third in 32:07.

The win continues Pearson’s run at a perfect season, as she has won every race she has entered this winter.

But it was McCaw who was the talk of the race, after she ran down Jess Wood’s errant sled dog team and finished the race in her stead.

McCaw started the day as a volunteer on the trail, but found herself mushing after Wood lost control of her sled rounding a quick corner early in the race.

While Wood chased her team, McCaw caught up with her dogs further up the trail and made a quick decision to mush them to the finish line.

“She was dragging with the team trying to stop them,” Pearson told the Star. “She was at one of the checkpoints and she ended up running the team the course because eight dogs is really hard to turn on your own.

“Her common-sense thinking was ‘Oh, I’ll just take them the course,’” Pearson explained. “Poor Jess … She’s pretty competitive and she was so disappointed that that happened. We were like, ‘Don’t worry. Every musher has a story like that.’”

Devred picked up Wood for a time, but unable to catch her team, the chase was abandoned.

After drawing bib number one, Pearson ran a solitary race around her home trail, describing the run as her best yet this season.

“It was a really steady run, but it was a fast trail,” she said. “It was my smoothest run this season. I almost felt like I was training, but at the same time I pushed my dogs because it was a race.”

Pearson called her season a “stepping stone” as she and Johnson are trying to improve their young kennel.

Her current team is made up of Alaskan Huskies with strains of Greyhound and Pointer.

The dogs are descendants of Pearson’s prized dog Natty, a quarter-Greyhound and product of legendary Swedish musher Egil Ellis’s kennel. Pearson’s current leader Apollo is Natty’s son.

“He’s just a phenomenal dog,” Pearson said.

The race was the first in the history of the Twister series to take place at Fox Lake.

The start and finish line was at Yukon Horsepacking Adventures, Pearson’s home base. 

Post-race, mushers lingered in the Pearson’s log cabin to enjoy coffee and a homemade moose stew.

“It was really nice to see everybody enjoying it,” Pearson said. “It was a real social event and a lot of fun.”

Pearson is unable to attend the final Twister race of the season, which will take place March 24 at the hot springs. However, she is hoping to attend a competitive race in Fort Nelson at the end of the month.

Stefan Wackerhagen won the 10-mile skijor race with a time of 32:46.

Amil Dupuis-Rossi finished second in 38:21, and Virginia Sarrazin was the third of three finishers, with a time of 49:26.

Nominal monetary prizes were handed out after the race.

On Saturday, the Silver Sled race committee will host two races in Haines Junction.

The Chili Paw (20-mile race) and the Sportsman (seven miles) will begin at the Bear Creek Lodge.

Both skijor and sled dog teams are invited. Registration begins at 8:30.

Visit http://www.thesilversled.com for more information.

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