What started as a scary moment at the John Beargrease Cub Run on Saturday, Jan. 18, turned into one of sportsmanship.
Radios crackled with news that a young musher, Isabella Kivi, had lost her sled and dogs. While volunteers raced to ensure everyone was safe, fellow racer Nicole Freking picked Kivi up and made sure she crossed the finish line safely.
"It's a scary thing to happen, but Nicole did a great job helping out her fellow racer," said race organizer Liz Busa. "She knew just what to do and showed a lot of special courage."
Freking, daughter of last year's John Beargrease Dog Sled Marathon winner Blake Freking, of Finland, Minn., later received the John Beargrease Spirit Award for her actions.
Kivi's dogs were safely recovered by race volunteers.
Another racer dealt with a loss in the race, albeit on a much smaller scale. First-time racer Carmen Morgan, of Britt, crossed the finish line with only one boot.
"I wanted them [the dogs] to go faster, so I was kind of running near the end," Carmen said. "But then my boot came off, so I had to stop running."
Once she finished the race, her brother, Matt Morgan, hopped on the back of the sled to take it in. Carmen took a load off in the basket to keep her foot from getting too cold.
The annual race is designed to give novice mushers up to age 14 an opportunity to learn about the sport while competing in a scaled-down version of larger events, complete with vet checks, official times and an awards ceremony. A total of 20 young mushers participated in this year's event.
The competition is divided by age and length. Older mushers can complete a 2.6 mile race while younger mushers have a shorter loop of 1.5 miles on the grounds next to the Silver Creek Town Hall.
At the end of the day, the top eight mushers in each division were awarded medals and their selection of prizes. Every child who participated walked away with an ice cream coupon from Culver's.