Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race - Elk Ridge to La Ronge
Canada's premier sled dog race has been held in northern Saskatchewan since 1994. The race began in Prince Albert and was held for years before recently being moved futher north to Elk Ridge Resort.
This was my first experience taking in a professional sled dog race - I couldn't help but feel the enthusiasm of the animals as they jumped and barked with excitment.
Showing up early, I was able to watch the mushers and their dog teams prepare for the long 308-mile race to La Ronge. Nine mushers took part in the 12-dog, 308-mile long race, while six mushers participated in the eight-dog, 123-mile long race.
Not to worry though - the teams dont go all the way to La Ronge without any stops. There were checkpoints starting at Maclennan (30 miles out), then stops at Harold and Fafard's cabins on the way to La Ronge. During the race, the mushers make a giant loop to Grandmother's Bay, Stanely Mission and then head back towards La Ronge.
With all the noise and hype leading up to the race, I was surprised by the stark contrast of silence as the mushers released their brakes and the dogs began to run.
Perhaps Tanja Tabel, a local race official explains it best, "They are just totally happy to do what they are doing and a lot of the times people would be surprised by that. Because it is so crazy and noisy at the start, as soon as they go, they know their job and they love it."
This unique northern Saskatchewan experience is a must see for the whole family. If you have the opportunity to go next year in february, I suggest you take it!
Thanks for reading!