Darcy Stanley-Nord’a love for dog sledding started back in high school.
“I had a teacher in Princeton who was a musher; if we were good, she would let one of us feed the dogs, and that was really exciting for me as a kid and it always stuck in my mind,” Stanley-Nord said.
But it took years before Stanley-Nord, a Milaca resident, took action to pursure her outdoors dream.
Her interest peaked in 2012 after she read “Call of the Wild,” a book about dog sledding.
“They don’t talk about crashing or harnessing the dogs,” said Stanley-Nord, addressing the unexpected difficulties that the book failed to mention.
But Stanley-Nord persevered to where she is now.
“After a while, we started to do pretty decent,” she said.
Now an eight-year veteran to the mushing business, the results are starting to pile up for Stanley-Nord .
Her dog sledding career, includes a 10th-place finish at the Beargrease Mid Distance race on Jan. 20.
“It was pretty huge, a pretty big deal,” she said
Though now succeeding as a musher, her success came from a humble beginning.
Stanley-Nord started small back in 2012, when she began NordStar Racing, her family-run operation with only five dogs and Stanley-Nord as the lone musher.
From its small beginning, NordStar Racing now fields 19 dogs and its number of mushers has doubled, and includes Stanley-Nord’s son, Nathan Nord, who has tossed his hat into the racing mix.
Now coming into their own as a mushing company, it wasn’t without hard work, as much time was spent practicing and training on the 80 acres the family owns by Milaca near the Rum River State Forest.
It was on this property that Stanley-Nord practiced camping out, caring for the dogs and herself as well as preparing for the lengthy races the teams would enter.
To prepare the dogs properly for the season, the dogs put on over 1,500 miles a year Stanley-Nord said.
The Alaskan Huskies are a breed mix of dog that has been running for generations.
They take on a lot more responsibility than just pulling the sled from Point A to Point B.
“You put a lot of faith in the dogs. As long as you have a good lead dog, you will end up where you need to be,” Stanley-Nord said, referring to the importance of having good dogs leading the pack.
With the mid-distance category that Stanley-Nord races in, she uses eight dogs to get her safely to her destination in races that reach over 100 miles.
During those long races, Stanley-Nord’s has volunteers helping her when the stops are made.
“It was like having an Indy 500 pit crew; we had friends volunteer to help,” she explained.
The rest stops may sound like a true break, but there is still much to be done, as the dogs require food, rest and massages in order to perform at their best.
“The faster you get them fed and snuggled down, the better, for then I can rest as well,” said Stanley-Nord.
With the help from her volunteers, it allows Stanley-Nord do just that: Rest.
After the rest, the cycle repeats and Stanley-Nord continues until the race is complete.
Now entering the spring, the season has come to an end for Stanley-Nord.
“We had a really good team this year,” she said.
Entering the offseason, the process will begin again. Stanley-Nord is preparing for her ninth season, which starts in November.