World championship now set for March 2-4

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Though this winter has had both cold temperatures and significant snowfall, the weather over the most recent several days has spoiled the trails needed for the World Championship Sled Dog Derby, held in Laconia since 1929.

The Lakes Region Sled Dog Club announced yesterday that the Derby has been rescheduled to March 2-4. The race was originally planned for this coming weekend, Feb. 16-18.

“With the rain that we received on Sunday, and the warm temperatures that we’re having this week,” said Jennifer Hollows, secretary of the Sled Dog Club, “the loss of snow had been too great.”

If the dogs are to run in March, the Sled Dog Club will need more snow in the meantime.

“We really need a big storm — at least a foot. And cold temperatures to maintain it,” Hollows said.

The World Championship Sled Dog Derby holds races in junior and adult divisions, the latter of which includes a six-dog class and an open class. Teams of mushers travel from all over North America to compete, and occasionally there will be competitors from Europe.  Courses range from a few miles to 16.

It takes many volunteers — more than 100, Hollows said — to put on the weekend of sled dog racing. Two of the critical volunteer roles are now unfilled due to the change of date. The Sled Dog Club is hoping to enlist the services of a timer and a dog marker over the course of the March 2-4 weekend.

The job of dog marker should be easier to fill, she said, as it doesn’t require unusual skills. But the club is hoping to find someone with experience to time the races.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be with sled dog racing. Anyone that has any kind of timing experience would be helpful. We can train them on how we do it,” she said.

For more information on volunteering, click on the “How to Help” tab at www.lrsdc.org.

Hollows, a member of the Lyman family, was born into the Lakes Region sled dog community and has grown up around the sport of mushing. She is part of the team of volunteers that plans year-round for the event, so she knows the frustration that comes when a warm rain falls a week before the event.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it, whether you have it or not, so it’s tough when you have to cancel. But, you’re depending on Mother Nature.”

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