Dog sled races serve up free, unique excitement


ALABASTER TOWNSHIP — Iditarod-style entertainment will be offered up for free on Jan. 30 and 31 in Alabaster Township courtesy of the Mid-Union Sled Haulers (MUSH), a non-profit sled dog racing group based in Arenac and Iosco counties.

Event coordinator Melanie Packard, an AuGres resident, said the race sponsor, U.S. Gypsum, allows MUSH participants to engage in several different classes of racing along a beautiful route, which includes sites around the company’s quarry and trails through forests.

“The scenery is so pretty. It just looked like the ultimate spot to hold a race,” Packard said. “The trails are already there, so it is ideal.

“The starting area is at the beach by the quarry,” she continued. “We go under (US) 23 and around the quarry through the woods.”

According to Packard, the races, free to spectators, are held for two days to give teams a shot to race twice, in case a team has an off day during one day of the spectacle.

“It always helps to have two days worth of racing to go by when coming up with a time,” she said, adding that also, some participants travel a great distance to race in the MUSH competition. “You travel that far to go to a race, you want to race on both days.”

The race was held in 2009 for the first time and Packard said it attracted about 60 teams of sled dogs. This year, the Saturday races start at 9 a.m. and the Sunday races will push off at 10 a.m.

Race coordinators also include Packard’s husband, Bob Packard and Jill Miller, all AuGres residents.

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