Face of Defense: Adjutant General Wins Charity Sled Dog Race
By Army Sgt. Michelle Brown
Alaska National Guard
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Feb. 15, 2012 The crisp winter air covered the glistening trail as Alaska’s adjutant general raced to the finish line and victory during the "Top Brass" charity sled dog race here Feb. 11.
Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus along with five senior leaders representing all branches of the U.S. military participated in a three-mile dog sled race to determine who would be named the "top brass."
Army Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, Alaska’s adjutant general, races to the finish line during the "Top Brass" Charity Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska, Feb. 11, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Guy Hayes
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Each participant was assigned a three-dog team and musher from last year's "Top Dog" charity sled dog race to serve as a mentor.
"This was excellent and really fun," Katkus said. "About 100 yards into the trail, you don't hear anything except the dogs breathing and the sounds of the sled runners going down the trail."
Katkus and his team of world-champion athletes rose to the challenge and won the race with a course time of 9:28, nearly a minute faster than his fellow competitors. The general credited the win to his superior teammates: Cooper, Eeyore and Lizzy.
"This was my first time mushing, but I had a team of veteran dogs in front of me, keeping me on the sled," he said. "I also followed the advice I was given to just hang on to the sled and the dogs will do the work for you."
ExxonMobil made a $20,000 contribution to the Wounded Warrior Project, a program designed to honor and empower wounded warriors by raising awareness, helping injured service members and providing them a variety of additional services.
"I would like to thank ExxonMobil on behalf of all of the military," Katkus said. "I want to convey the importance of their donation and how it's going to change people's lives for the better."
The "Top Brass" Charity Dog Sled Race was held as part of the 39th annual ExxonMobil Open. The race has been an Alaska tradition since 1973. Aaron Stryk, ExxonMobil public and government affairs advisor, said the race is designed to pay tribute to the official sport of Alaska, while highlighting the invaluable institutions that give so much to the community.
In particular, he added, the race sponsors want to show appreciation to the nation’s wounded warriors who have given so much for their country.
"Thank you for all you do in service to Alaska and our country," Stryk said. "I hope this can be our way of saying thank you."