Wilderness Sled Dog Races on tap Saturday
GREENVILLE — A local winter tradition continues Saturday when mushers and their dog teams gather at Leisure Life Resort to compete in the Wilderness Sled Dog Races. Thirteen mushers will embark on a 70-mile journey through the mountainous terrain of the 100 Mile Wilderness beginning at 9 a.m. A shorter race of 30 miles will begin at 10 a.m., traversing through Weyerhauser timber land and returning in the early afternoon hours. Both races originate and terminate at Leisure Life Resort.
The races, in their ninth year, are organized by The Wilderness Sled Dog Racing Association, a non-profit organization in Greenville whose mission is, “to foster international sports competition and to preserve the heritage of the sled dog by providing the opportunity for sled dog racing enthusiasts to engage in annual competition emphasizing the safety, animal welfare and good sportsmanship of all participants.”
Mushers travel from all over the region to participate, drawn by scenic beauty, well groomed trails, and an enthusiastic and welcoming community. Finishers in the 70-mile race will divide a $10,000 purse, while those finishing the 30-mile race will divide $3,000. In addition, the winner of the 70-mile race will receive a knife, handcrafted by artisan Bryan Courtois, commemorating the event.
Spectators will also be in for an exciting day, beginning at 8:30 a.m., with an opportunity to meet the mushers and their dogs as they prepare for their day’s journey. Fans will be able to line up along the race chute for a great close-up view as mushers and their teams leave at three-minute intervals, until the final team disappears into the wilderness.
After the teams have departed, some may wish to leave and take advantage of several opportunities to view the teams as they make their way to the northernmost check point of the race. Teams can be spotted from the Appalachian Mountain Club parking area off the Greenville Road and from the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Clubhouse on the Scammon Road. For those willing to drive a little farther, the crew at West Branch Pond Camps will be catering to spectators as the 70-mile race teams come through the remote camps.
Back at Leisure Life Resort, there will be a number of activities to keep people busy while waiting for the racers to return.
10:45 a.m. — Snowshoe Races and “Animals in Winter” program sponsored by AMC.
11:30 a.m.-12 p.m. — Skijoring Demonstration by Jill Carter.
1 p.m. — Children’s Story Time, reading “Yukon the Sled Dog.”
1-3 p.m. — Welcome back 30-mile race teams to Leisure Life Resort.
4-7 p.m. — Bonfire and welcome back 70-mile teams to Leisure Life Resort
The evening will conclude with an awards ceremony for the mushers at 7:30 p.m. at Trailside Restaurant, where dinner and cocktails will be available for purchase.