Work is underway to prepare for this year’s Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race.

Dan Kirkup, the current president of the board of directors of the Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race said work is being done in a range of areas, including making sure all the proper insurance is in place along with arranging for veterinarians and their supplies. Kirkup said workers have also been out getting the coarse ready for the dogs and mushers.

“We have a crew that goes out, a volunteer crew that goes out and works on the trail, clearing trees that have fallen down and you know packing down the snow so that we have a good base for the dogs to run on and that’s sort of a constant process from now right up until the race starts in February,” he said.

Overall the Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race has around 300 miles of trails which need to be worked on. The coarse runs from Elk Ridge Resort up north to Weyakwin before going up to La Ronge, Missinipe and Stanley Mission before coming back and finishing in Missinipe. Kirkup said he recently was up in the La Ronge area and noticed there was sufficient snow cover, however he explained overall temperatures needed to fall more to allow workers to access certain areas of the coarse.

“We need some of the lakes to freeze, but a lot of the swampy marshy areas that haven’t frozen yet are really restricting how much of the trail we can get access to,” he said.

When it comes to the number of competitors for this year’s race, Kirkup said they are still getting registrations from mushers for all three competitions. Last week two teams were registered in each the six and eight dog races with more expected to join. Meanwhile the 10 dog, which is the signature race had around nine teams officially registered. Kirkup said they have historically seen many teams sign up closer to the race, he added it would not be a surprise if the number of competitors was down this year.

“We’re not sure if we’re going to see similar numbers to last year, due to some of the increased costs that people are seeing right now, in particular the cost of fuel,” he said.

The Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race is set to kick off on February 21 with the 10 dog race which is starting at Elk Ridge Resort.

(Top Photo from Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race Facebook.)