Canadian challenge sled dog race cancelled

By paNOW Staff
February 1, 2016 - 3:58pm

The 2016 Canadian Challenge has been cancelled due to poor trail conditions. 

The race was set to start in only 19 days on Feb. 20. Trail conditions are "spotty and in places difficult," according to a press release. 

The snow pack is also "minimal, [and] non-existent in some places." Thawing and freezing rain in recent days has left bare patches, ice, water and even closed sections of the trail.  

Mushers have also not been able to train as much as they'd hoped due to the unfortunate conditions. 

"In the interests of the safety of dogs, mushers and officials, it was the only prudent thing to do," president of the Gateway North Sled Dog Race Association Gill Gracie said. "Safety always come first for the Challenge and we are not prepared to unnecessarily put mushers and dogs at risk in difficult conditions."

Minimal snow is forecast for the near future. Vice president and trail boss Allan Sheremata said even a blizzard wouldn't make the sled dog race possible. 

"Normally we have at least half the trail marked by this time of year, but conditions have prevented this. Volunteer trail crews can only work on weekends and there are only three weekends left."

Head veterinarian Dr. Ruth Sims said the tough conditions could lead to unjustified injuries to the dogs, such as dehydration. 

Next year's sled dog race is from Feb. 20 to 25. 2017 marks the 20th Anniversary Canadian Challenge. 

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