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B.C. dog sled race draws competitors from around the world

This is the 26th year of the event that attracts mushers to Fort St. James from across Canada and abroad

The Caledonia Classic Dog Sled Races kicked off in Fort St. James on Friday Feb. 4 and finished on Feb. 6.

It was a sunny day on Saturday and the crowd cheered as racers hit the snow.

Race organizer Craig Houghton said windy conditions helped offset warmer than normal temperatures.

“We’ve got some really high-energy teams out of Alberta, a couple out of the Yukon that have come down, and of course lots of local B.C. teams. It’s a good field. It’s really competitive out there,” Houghton said.

“There are some really fast dogs — all different size of dogs. Some distance teams coming in just finished 200 miles.”

The Caledonia Classic is the only race in Canada that combines sprint and long distance races into one weekend.

Mushers come from all over North America and even some from Europe, to race in the event​.

Newbie musher Maria Woithe from Germany said she trained hard for the event alongside Robert Peebles and the Blue Streek Kennels out of Alberta. “It was hard at first but today went really well even though it was so windy,” Woithe said.

RELATED: Alaska man wins 1,000-mile Yukon sled dog race

The 200-mile and 100-mile mushers met on Thursday Feb. 3 in advance of the meeting and were the first to hit the snow Friday morning. Saturday featured 6 and 4 dog sprints, a Jr. musher race and an outdoor supper at Cottonwood Park

The event wrapped up Sunday with 6-dog sprints and a skijor event followed by 4-dog sprints.

The races were cancelled last year due to Covid-19. Houghton said he’s glad they were able to make it happen this year. Politician’s and Kid ‘n’ Mutt events were cancelled and all events followed provincial public health protocols.

Houghton thanked a small core of volunteers in the community for their support.

“The snowmobile club, the village and search and rescue helped us out. This is year 26 that we’ve been doing it and this event is very important for the community. Thanks to everyone who stepped up and helped us.”


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