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Saturday sled-dog race brings mushers to Outing

The Mid-Minnesota 150 Sled Dog Race in 2012 is captured by Joe and Robin Oberton. The 28th annual race is Feb. 13, 2016.

For the 28th year, the annual Mid-Minnesota 150 will have teams of sled dogs winding through lakes area communities.

Participants who may want to see the start or parts of the race, will be able to see one of the longest enduring sled dog races in the region.

The race, in the communities of Emily, Outing and Remer begins at noon Saturday. The six-dog and eight-dog teams will run from Outing to Remer. Mushers plan to meet at 10:30 a.m. in Outing at the Village Inn.

Dan Levno, co-organizer, said when the race started it was first geared toward larger dog teams but through the years, it changed from 10-dog teams to the six- and eight-dog teams, which were more in line with what mushers were handling.

Levno started at the event racing with his own team. When the original committee that had been running the event since the 1980s dissolved, he became part of a new committee effort to keep the race alive.

The event, and the race course, has changed over the years. It now has two different classes, a 30-mile race for the six-dog teams and a 60-mile race for the eight-dog teams. The race has a history of attracting mushers from the region and from outside Minnesota. Organizers moved the race from a winner's purse to charging an entry fee and giving back an equal portion to each musher.

"It has really changed the complexion of the race," Levno said. "It's a love of the sport, which is what it is. ... Everybody leaves with a smile on their face and they have a good time."

Levno said it's about being together with people who really love the same thing, being out in nature running with their dogs. That camaraderie, Levno said, brings people back year after year.

Levno said with the existing snowpack there isn't a concern about running the race. The warmup isn't forecast to begin until next week and even then the National Weather Service has highs at or below freezing through Wednesday. Saturday's race day should be sunny but crisp.

The race has attracted as many as 96 sled dog teams. The average number of teams each year is more often 20 to 22. Levno said a lot of sled dog races have fallen by the wayside, but the Mid-Minnesota 150 has endured.

"I love being out with the dogs and in nature and we are out by ourselves," Levno said, adding the camaraderie of being able to share that experience with others who love their dogs and being out on the snow brings people back year after year.

Go to midmn150.com for more information.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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