Chezik dominates Rondy sled dog race

Michigan musher manages second-fastest time of Day 3 to keep Cook, Ellis at bay.

Anchorage Daily NewsFebruary 26, 2012 

Ken Chezik of Fife Lake, Mich., decisively won the 2012 Anchorage Fur Rendezvous World Championship Sled Dog Race on Sunday. Egil Ellis, last year's champion, posted the best time for the third and final day of the race, more than a minute faster than Chezik.

It was enough to pull him past fellow Alaskan Arliegh Reynolds, who started the day in third place. But it was not enough to overtake the leaders.

When the numbers were added up, Kevin Cook of Saskatchewan, racing in the Rondy for the first time, held onto second place.

Chezik, 52, has been a factor in Alaska sprint races for the past 10 years. He beat Ellis to win the ExxonMobil Open in 2008 and finished third in last year's Rondy race. In some notable races, Ellis has beaten him by a matter of mere seconds.

Racing with the same lead dog, Nettie, he used last year, Chezik posted the fastest day times on both Friday and Saturday. He said the cheering crowds at each checkpoint spurred him and his team.

"All I could do was keep working harder and harder," he said.

"You earned that race," Cook told him.

Posing for photos with his leader, Laurel, the Canadian had praise for the Anchorage race.

"I can't believe the excitement that's on the streets," Cook said. "I'll be back."

The total purse was more than $70,000. Chezik wins $8,575 for his first place win, plus a little more than $300 for his top day times on Friday and Saturday.

In addition to Cook, two other Canadian rookies were in the top 10: Guy Girard finished in eighth place overall and Marie-Anick Alie was 10th.

There was one scratch in the initial field of 24 mushers, Mari Wood of Willow, who stepped out of the race after the second day.

Near the bottom of the pack, in 22nd place, was Rob Wordon. The pet store owner from Mexico, New York, looked exhausted at the end of the race, but nonetheless elated at having finished.

"Everything had to come together for me to make this trip," he said. "I knew that if I didn't do it now, I never would."

The reverse starting order, with slowest mushers taking off first, made for some exciting finishes as the faster musher caught up from behind. Nine teams crossed the finish line in a three minute period just after 2 p.m. and the winning team was the last one to come in.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.

Fur Rendezvous World Championship results

1) Ken Chezik, Day 1-88:46, Day 2-89:34, Day 3-92:30, Total-270:50

2) Kevin Cook (r), 90:26, 89:36, 93:16, 273:18

3) Egil Ellis, 90:46, 93:26, 91:12, 275:24

4) Arleigh Reynolds, 91:22, 91:26, 92:59, 275:47

5) Greg Taylor, 94:14, 95:48, 97:37, 287:39

6) Bill Kornmuller, 94:07, 95:37, 99:24, 289:08

7) Brent Beck, 98:11, 95:59, 97:22, 291:32,

8) Guy Girard (r), 96:30, 99:14, 98:02, 293:46

9) Jeff Conn, 94:45, 96:48, 102:14, 293:47,

10) Marie-Anick Alie (r), 98:00, 97:26, 98:26, 293:52

11) Greg Selletin (r), 94:54, 100:50, 100:18, 296:06

12) Nathan Sterling, 97:13, 100:02, 99:18, 296:33

13) Marvin Kokrine, 99:00, 97:35, 101:32, 298:07

14) John Erhart, 97:28, 98:55, 101:49, 298:12

15) Will Kornmuller, 98:54, 98:05, 104:59, 301:58

16) Jack Berry, 95:31, 104:44, 103:24, 303:39

17) Michael Tetzner, 96:23, 110:08, 109:55, 316:26

18) Don Cousins, 96:53, 107:33, 113:09, 317:35

19) Rob Peebles, 100:41, 105:17, 114:27, 320:25

20) Randy DeKuiper, 112:26, 103:30, 111:53, 327:49

21) Danny Beck (r), 112:39, 107:29, 114:24, 334:32

22) Rob Wordon (r), 107:39, 116:06, 124:14, 347:59

23) Jon Bunderson (r), 122:23, 114:59, 120:23, 357:45

SCRATCH) Mari Wood, 114:32, 118:05, xxx:xx, xxx:xx

(r) denotes rookie; preliminary results announced at the finish line Sunday

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