An online subscription is required to access the content on this website.
SUBSCRIBE TODAY to have total access 24 hours a day to the Newberry News.
2018-01-10 / Front Page

Sled Dog Race was Cold but Enjoyable


Spectators line the fence to cheer on the mushers and their dog teams at last Saturday’s 19th Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race held last Saturday at the Muskallong State Park north of Newberry. Spectators line the fence to cheer on the mushers and their dog teams at last Saturday’s 19th Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race held last Saturday at the Muskallong State Park north of Newberry. It may have been below zero degrees last Saturday at the 19th Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race but the dogs enjoyed it even if their two legged drivers, handlers, spectators, fans and volunteers had a slightly different experience.

The race itself had only one minor glitch; a tree had fallen over the trail during the night and the mushers had to break branches off in order too get over it and continue on their way. They still had to be careful for the broken ends were jagged and could hurt dog’s feet and the sled they were pulling until local musher Laura Neese came along with an ax to smooth them out.

Neese, who raced a tendog team from Nature’s Kennel, owned by Ed and Tasha Stielstra from north of McMillan, has been to the Iditarod and the Yukon quest both over 1,000 mile courses, so she was prepared with an ax in her sled. Her work may have been the reason she finished in sixth place in the ten-dog race.

Jake Golton came in first flowed by Joann Fortier and Justin Stielstra.

“Thanks to everybody who in the race organization and everybody who worked on that trail; that’s one of the best trails I’ve ever ran on over here,” Golton stated.

Ed Stielstra who finished in fourth place in the tendog race stated, “If you run dogs, you know that feeling when you get out there and the team is settled in, you kind of get to be there as a privilege. You’re not contributing anything other than to making it legal cause there is human on the sled…You get to your happy place. I got to thinking about all the volunteers so we can play with our dogs… I like to run dogs over anything. The tree was great.”

Bruce Magnusson won the eight-dog race. Kris Samson finished second and local musher Laura Bontrager was third. “I got to write dog musher as my job in the little bio report,” stated Bontrager. “That was the best deal ever. Thanks to my dogs, they did awesome, I had a blast, it was so much fun.”

Kat Manderfield was first in the six-dog sport. Gerhardt Thiart, originally from South Africa, was second and Kelsey Beaber was third.

Christy Felty was first in the four-dog sportsmen followed by Jesse Quayle and Katie Mendrick.

Sterling Schanen was first in the Youth race while Kyra Beaber was second and Nevaeh Johnson was third.

The Volunteer of the Year was awarded to John Waltman. The Kenny Harris Sportsmanship was awarded to Gerhardt Thiart who picked up a fellow musher whose team ran away from him. Thiart still managed to place second in the six-dog race. “I came around a corner and found a hiker,” Thiart related. “Get on I said, he replied ‘I lost my team,’ he said. I can see that, I said. We caught his team and I’m just happy his dogs were okay.” Someone else caught the team and tied them to a tree until Thiart and his rider caught up.

Margaret Harvey, the official timer, started the awards banquet by praising all the sponsors, volunteers racers, veterinarians involved in the race.

The Spirit of the Tahquamenon Award (in honor of Kathy and Rich Robinson who hosted the race for many years from their Rainbow Lodge encampment) was given to Margaret Harvey and Jan Shaw.

All of the racers who got up to make speeches praised all of the workers and volunteers who were responsible for putting on this annual race. Most of whom said they would be back next year.

Return to top