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      Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race

      The 14th annual Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race took off without a hitch. However, this year the race started and finished at the Muskallonge Lake State Park in Newberry.

      It was the first race of the dog sledding season. All the dogs were pumped to hit the trails.

      Sixty-one teams with participants from around the world prepared for the ride.

      "Dogs do what they are trained to do. There's nothing more I can do in this race. So we train them to settle at a good speed, and once they've settled in and acquired that speed, they get into a rhythm and I will let them go," said Gerhardt Thiart from South Africa.

      For many mushers, this race is just a training run for the races to come. They are looking to see how their team performs in long distances.

      Officials say trail conditions were great to see just that.

      "The colder it is, the better the dogs run, but it's still cold enough. There's plenty of snow on the trail. The dogs ate great this morning. First race of the season, they are more than ready to go," said Ed Stielstra, musher.

      This is the first time the mushers ran on this course for this race. The new course is more challenging than in previous years, but is more scenic.

      "We've three or four kennels of dogs that train out in this area of the county. So we are using their trails that they train on so there's a whole network of trails out in this part of Luce county," said David Dake, Race Director.

      Mushers competed in either the Pro 12 or 8-dog teams, but there was also the sport class teams of six and four.

      An $8,000 purse amount award will be given to winners in the Pro categories.??