Sled dog races overcome lack of snow

Youngest Cariboo Challenge participant only five years old

  • Feb. 4, 2016 8:00 a.m.
Five-year-old Harleigh Dutton travelled all the way from Pinehurst

Five-year-old Harleigh Dutton travelled all the way from Pinehurst

Barbara Roden

Free Press

This year’s Cariboo Challenge Jack Gawthorn Memorial Sled Dog Race attracted 30 teams and hundreds of onlookers to the course at the 108 Heritage Site on Jan. 30-31.

Last year’s event, scheduled for mid-January, was cancelled due to lack of snow, prompting organizers to move it to the end of January this year.

However, a rapid thaw a few days before the event had the ground crew hauling in snow and shovelling it on to the trails for three days, says Craig Conklin.

The teams competed in races of varying lengths over both days of the event. Teams of four dogs covered a four-mile course; six-dog teams raced for six miles; and teams of 10 dogs had a 10-mile route.

The junior class, for those aged 12 and under, had one participant: a five-year-old who travelled from northern Idaho to compete, Conklin says. He adds her two-dog team completed the two-mile course in slightly more than eight minutes.

She’s been running dogs since she was two. She’s really serious.”

Other teams came from as far afield as Alberta, Prince George and northern British Columbia, and Chilliwack to compete in one of the few remaining courses in the province.

Conklin says there were 100 to 150 people watching the races at any given time.

People tend to come and go throughout the day.”

The Psalm 23 Society provided breakfast and lunch at the site on both days, as a fundraiser for the group, and the local Tim Hortons mobile van set up at the 108 Heritage Site to supply coffee and hot chocolate.

Conklin notes that Tim Hortons donated the proceeds to the South Cariboo Search and Rescue, which had members on-site throughout the event, and to the Cariboo Challenge organization.