Mushers and their dogs prepare for Klondike Dog Derby race on Saturday

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This year’s Klondike Dog Derby in Excelsior is featuring some of the youngest mushers in the race’s history.

About 300 dogs and their mushers put together final preparations for Saturday’s race in Friday’s bitter cold temperatures.

For some of the younger mushers, this is a thrill.

“I trust them more than I trust a lot of people, they’re my best friends,” said Eva Robinson, a musher from North Dakota.

“We have 60 dogs, they just feel special to me,” said Elena Freking, the youngest musher in the field.

This year’s youngest mushers are 12, 13, and 16 years old.

“It’s a lot of fun being so young and racing against so many people that are older than you,” said Morgan Martens, a musher from Wisconsin.

The Klondike Dog Derby is a 40 mile race around Lake Minnetonka that draws big crowds this time of year. The competitors under 18 say family history of mushing goes a long way.

“My mom’s been running it since she was 8 years old so I was kind of born into the sport,” Freking said.

“Just grew up doing it I guess, my dad always had dogs,” added Liam Conner, a musher from Canada.

Young or old, the hope is events like this keep the fire burning for this sport.

“Being able to keep that going, the next generation it’s so important, I don’t want it to fade away, i want to keep it alive,” Robinson said.

The Klondike Dog Derby kicks off Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony and the race starts at 10 a.m.

For more information on where to watch the race and all the other festivities, click here.