UNT alum to compete in 2006 Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska

Thursday, February 16, 2006

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- It's a long way (roughly 4200 miles) from Denton, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska -- the starting point of the 2006 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. But it is a journey that Randy Cummins, '82 UNT alumnus from Big Lake, Alaska has taken with the dogs from his "HuskyTown" kennel. Cummins and the dogs are competing in this year's race, which starts on March 4 (Saturday).

After graduating with a biology degree from what was known as North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), Cummins attended UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and earned a medical degree. He moved to the Spokane, Wash. area to practice medicine. Then, in 2001, he was visiting Alaska and saw the start of the Iditarod sled dog race.

"I was hooked," Cummins says. He began mushing the next year, and sold his practice in 2003 to move to Alaska. Cummins says, "I started out with just three or four dogs, and then decided to get more. Once I had eight or nine dogs, I thought I should get involved in racing."

Cummins was planning to run in last year's Iditarod race, but dropped out before the competition began. "I made some mistakes, and we weren't as ready last year. Hopefully, I've learned some lessons," Cummins says.

Cummins says each of his race dogs has its own personality. "I have dogs that are really rambunctious and playful, and others are shy. Two or three dogs act like they don't want to race, but once they are hooked up to the sled, they get over their pre-race jitters," Cummins says.

The dog sled travels at an average speed of nine or 10 miles per hour. Cummins says the dogs burn an average of 10,000 calories a day. "I take the teams out on 40 or 50 mile runs. Most of the dogs have put on between 1,700 and 2,000 miles training since last May," Cummins says. To prepare for the race, Cummins has put aside 1,700 pounds of supplies -- 1,300 pounds in dog food alone.

The race will end in Nome, Alaska. Over the last 10 years, it's taken the winning team less than 10 days to cover more than 1,100 miles.

Cummins can be reached at teamhtk@HuskyTown.com. The website of his kennel is www.HuskyTown.com.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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