Canadian Challenge prepares for 20th year of sled dog race

By Teena Monteleone
January 8, 2017 - 12:00pm

Fasten your tug lines and grease-up your slats, soon it’ll be time to ‘mush.’

After a one year hiatus, the Canadian Challenge is gearing up to celebrate its 20th anniversary as the nation’s longest sled dog race.

“We are a qualifier for both the Iditarod and the Yukon quest.  It is the only race in the country that starts, runs and finishes within Canada,” race president, Gill Gracie said.

Last year, the event was cancelled due to poor sledding conditions. There is still a need for more snow, but Gracie is hopeful enough will fall by the start of the race, Feb. 21.

“We have good ice this year. That is the one really good plus,” Gracie said. “We have crews working every weekend now packing the trail and trying to make sure there is a base for the dogs to run on.”

So far, nine teams have registered for the 12-dog race. It will start on Central Ave. in downtown Prince Albert at noon and follows a route similar to that of the old sled dog trail used for years by trappers, the North West Mounted Police and the First Nations community. Mushers will run their teams up to Grandmother’s Bay then swing back south, finally ending the race in La Ronge. It takes up to four days for teams to traverse the nearly 600 km trail.

Four teams have also signed up for the 8-dog race and Gracie expects more teams to join in the coming weeks.

The event guarantees a minimum $25,000 purse this year.


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