Meet the Mushers, CT's Dog Sled Team
Storrs, Connecticut and bigger Husky followers you won't find... Unless you go West to East Windsor, that's where we think we've found the biggest "Husky followers" around. To Kathy Lesinski the frozen tundra of Flaherty Park isn't "Uconn Territory" but it is "Yukon Territory." It is on this icy expanse you'll find Kathy and husband, Bill, running wild. Kathy is a rare breed, the state's only long distance Sled Dog Racer, better known as a "Musher."
dogs geared up and ready to run for a morning practice. The former school teachers told us the tale of how they got hooked into the sport 12 years ago after watching a race in Vermont. On a frigid February day the wind howls and so do the dogs. Connecticut's terrain is really just a walk in the park for this pack of purebred Siberian Huskies -- When they need the real wilderness, the team travels mostly to Maine and New Hampshire, both to train and compete. "For my husband and I it just turned into a way of life... We started 12 years ago recreationally (sic), just having fun, playing around with a few Siberians and, little by little, its turned into more than a hobby, it's a way of life," Kathy says.
To say these races are a marathon is an understatement, Kathy competes in contests that range from 20 miles to 100 miles and the races can last 11 hours. The rules are simple; stay on course and race against the clock. You won't get rich doing this but there is some money in the wild. "Ten thousand, could be 20 thousand, obviously the longer race the more money, it depends on where you're traveling," Kathy told us. Last month and Kathy and her canine corp took their first title, winning an 80 mile race in Strattford, New Hampshire.
After the day we spent outside, exposed to the sub zero weather in East Windsor, Kathy, Bill, and their front-runners seem to be enjoying the chase. "We've had people say how cruel and how mean -- these dogs were born to run and they get the best treatment in the world!" Bill exclaimed. Kathy says she'll continue to hold the reigns, at least out here, "everyday theres a new trail to run, theres a new race to do and it's a major passion what I do and it grows every day!"