Carcross musher William Kleedehn can’t recall the last time the team he ran over the weekend was beat.
It has certainly been a while.
Kleedehn and the team from Crispin Studer’s Pika Kennel notched another victory in the 2016 Cinnamon Bun Run over the weekend.
“Basically I run dogs that Crispin Studer owns, but it’s all my old bloodlines – dogs out of my old kennel that he took over,” said Kleedehn.
“In middle distance races over the last few years it has been proven that the dogs I was raising for decades are just better. Simple as that.
“I don’t know the last time Crispin or me or anybody who ran those dogs was beaten in the Yukon.”
Kleedehn won the 140-mile (225-kilometre) race from the Takhini Hot Pools to Braeburn and back with a runtime of 12 hours and two minutes.
The 56-year-old won the race – back when it was called the River Runner – two years ago as well. In that race he lost his team a couple miles from the end and crossed the finish on foot about 20 minutes behind the team.
This year’s run wasn’t a heck of a lot smoother for Kleedehn.
“I had some challenges on the trail. At one point I crashed out and actually lost the team, which I don’t really want to admit, but I did,” said Kleedehn. “But the sled bounced into some willows and stopped the team. There was no damage to the sled or harm to the dogs.
“I just ran after them as good as I could, pulled the sled out of there and away we went.”
Shallow Bay’s Gerry Willomitzer placed second, up from 10th last year, with a time of 12:18.
Fox Lake’s Martine LeLevier claimed third at 12:54 and Nathaniel Hamlyn came fourth for a second year in a row at 13:54.
Sunday’s win marked the fourth year in a row for the dogs from Pika Kennel at the annual Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon race. Studer won last year’s Cinnamon Bun Run and the River Runner in 2013 – the year before Kleedehn won it.
Studer, who has taken this season off from racing, also went undefeated last year. He won the Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race, the Silver Sled in Haines Junction and the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race in Dawson City.
The Pika dogs were also winners at the Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race in January. At that race Kleedehn’s girlfriend Carolin Leipert, who had only ever raced once before, rode the dogs to first in the 30-mile sled division.
“When I enter a sled dog race, then you know for sure it’s a sled dog race, not a musher’s race,” said Kleedehn, who has twice placed second in the Yukon Quest. “It’s all about the dogs.”
In addition to the 11 sled teams, the Saturday-to-Sunday race included two skijorers.
Whitehorse’s Magnus Kaltenborn placed first at 14:58, ahead of Golden Horn’s Cynthia Corriveau at 16:34.
“I was basically happy I wasn’t one of the two skijorers – that’s what I was thinking,” said Kleedehn. “Those guys are gladiators. I would never do that.”
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1st William Kleedehn – 12:02
2nd Gerry Willomitzer – 12:18
3rd Martine LeLevier – 12:54
4th Nathaniel Hamlyn – 13:54
5th J.F. Bisson – 14:17
6th Kyla Boivin – 14:33
7th Alex Rochat – 14:55
8th Melissa Schenke – 15:21
9th Jacob Heigers – 15:54
10th Matt Rydholm – 16:09
Jean-Marc Champeval (scratched)
1st Magnus Kaltenborn – 14:58
2nd Cynthia Corriveau – 16:34