Sled dog races on track in Greenville Feb. 2
GREENVILLE — Greenville is going to the dogs on Saturday, Feb. 2 — sled dogs that is.
It’s an exciting time of year to be here – watching enthusiastic dogs and their mushers pulling sleds through the snowy, wooded trails around Greenville in the Wilderness Sled Dog Race. Amy Dugan and John Osmond of Shirley began this event more than a dozen years ago. This is the eleventh time this event has occurred – there were a few years in between where conditions were prohibitive and the race was not held.
This is only one of three long-distance races held in New England and will begin and end at Leisure Life Resort on the Lily Bay Road in Greenville. Aurelie Adrien, who owns Leisure Life Resort with her husband Kevin, is looking forward to the event.
“In addition to the races we have fun activities scheduled for spectators and families throughout the day,” Aurelie Adrien said. “This will include educational exhibits, and a bonfire at the end of the day to welcome in the racers. Our Trailside Restaurant at Leisure Life Resort is so spectators can enjoy great food in a warm, friendly atmosphere with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. We are delighted that this is happening in Greenville again this year.”
This event has been organized by the Wilderness Sled Dog Racing Association, a non-profit in Greenville that partners with other community members like the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Moosehead Snowmobile Club, and the Moosehead ATV Club at the Town of Greenville.
“Of course, we could not do this without the help of our many volunteers,” said Bethany Young at the Greenville Town Office. “They are the reason this event is even possible.” The trails are well groomed and scenic – making this event a favorite among mushers here in the United States and Canada.
There are two races planned – a 70-mile competition and a 35-mile one. According to their Facebook page, “Spectators can follow signs through town to Leisure Life Resort on Lily Bay Road, to witness the noisy and fun excitement of up to 20 dog teams eager to run. We suggest you get there between 8 to 8:30 to meet the teams as they prepare for the 9 a.m. start of the 70-mile race. The 35-mile race starts at 10 a.m. The race trail traverses the mountainous 100-Mile Wilderness area, and passes through several remote sporting camps, providing vantage points along the course for spectators who want to watch this daylong event and the racer’s progress.”
Ashley Patterson of Shirley has been running this race since its inception. “I love working with the dogs and racing,” she said. “I don’t mind the snow and the cold because I’m doing what I enjoy the most.” At this writing there are 10 mushers registered in addition to Patterson.
There are some terrific purses for the winners of both races – a $10,000 prize and a magnificent knife created by Bryan Courtois, master craftsman, for the 70-mile race, and a $3,000 purse will be divided among the participants in the 35-mile event.
Come watch! You can be one of the spectators lined up at the starting chute, watching those eager dogs straining their harnesses to get on the trail. Want to watch them on the trail? Head up to the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club on Scammon Road, or travel a little further to the West Pond Branch Camps out on the Frenchtown Road.
Dugan owns Mountain Ridge Sled Dog Equipment, a company that creates high-quality musher and sled dog first aid supplies, booties, collars, ganglines, and other mushing equipment.
“For me it is all about the dogs and allowing them to shine at what they love to do the best,” Dugan said. “They are incredible athletes that love to compete as much as the mushers do racing through the countryside. They love to see what is around the next corner, chasing teams that are ahead and smiling when they overtake a team. The growth of the race has been incredible and I credit that to the amazing people that sit on the Wilderness board planning year round for this event as well as the many volunteers that come together on race weekend to make it all happen. I feel that the people involved in putting this race on are as driven as the dogs that come to run it!”
So mark your calendars and plan to spend the day in Greenville on Saturday, February 2. According to Adrian, in addition to the races, fun activities for spectators and families are scheduled throughout the day. They will include educational exhibits, programs to be announced soon and a bonfire to welcome in the racers. Trailside restaurant at Leisure Life Resort is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner all weekend where spectators can enjoy great food in a warm, friendly atmosphere with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.
For more information, visit their Facebook page: wilderness sled dog race or visit www.100milewildernessrace.org. Contact Bethany Young at the Greenville Town Office: 207-695-2421.