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Reverse dog sled race raises thousands for victims of fatal fire

By Dave Leval 11:11 AM March 19, 2017

While the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is over, there’s still “mushing” happening in Alaska. In Anchorage, a unique fundraiser for the Royal Suite Lodge fire victims gave the dogs a break — the reverse sled dog race.

As he prepared for his next race, Adam Fletcher made sure everything was working properly. He uses an unusual sled — a shopping cart.

But competing in shopping carts is nothing new to the Fur Rendezvous outhouse race veteran.

“Since high school, been jumping in and pushing them around parking lots,” Fletcher laughed.

Fletcher couldn’t beat the deal for his racer this year — “This one was free, it was the perfect price.”

Fletcher said he hopes his work was worth the effort, as he was about to step into his most challenging race — the reverse sled dog race at Kincaid Park. In this race, so-called “mushers” haul the sled that carries the canine cargo.

Pamela Lyons created the Anchorage race.

“We wanted to come up with an event that would grab people’s attention, and make it fun to participate,” she explained.

Each team is allowed to have up to six people on it, hauling their “sled” as they race 200 yards.

It’s a fun event, but it also helps neighbors who need it. Three people died in the Feb. 15 fire at the Royal Suite Lodge apartments. Dozens of other families had to find other places to live. Money from the races at Kincaid Park will go to help the survivors.

“Reading the story about families having to make the choice to throw their children, it moved me, and I thought, I wanted to do something,” Lyons said.

The races raised about $11,000 for the American Red Cross of Alaska to help the fire victims and those of other disasters.

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