Jump to content

List of sled dog races

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Photo graphic depicting the elements of a sled dog team
Elements of a sled dog team

The list of sled dog races contains dozens of contests created by supporters of mushing, the sport of racing sled dogs. It is unknown when the first sled dog race was held. Humans have domesticated dogs for thousands of years, and sled dogs have been used for transportation in Arctic areas for almost as long. The first sled dog race to feature a codified set of rules was the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, which first took place in 1908. This was followed in 1917 by the American Dog Derby, which was the first sled dog race outside Alaska or the Yukon.[1] In 1929 the Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Race" was first held in the city of Laconia, New Hampshire. The first race was won by legendary musher, Leonhard Seppala, famous for his role in the 1925 "Great Race of Mercy", as well as, his lead dog Togo and kennel dog Balto. The Laconia sprint race is an annual event today over 90 years later.[2] In 1932, sled dog racing was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, but was only included in one other winter olympics in a slightly different form of sled dog racing known as pulka.[3][4][5]

The most famous sled dog race is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an annual 1000-mile race across Alaska. It commemorates the 1925 serum run to Nome. The first idea for a commemorative sled dog race over the historically significant Iditarod Trail was conceived Dorothy Page, the chair of the Wasilla-Knik Centennial Committee.[6] Even though the race known today was not first run until 1973, thanks to the work of Joe Redington and his supporters.[7] Joe Redington and the Iditarod helped restart worldwide interest in mushing, specifically in long-distance events.[7]

Since mushing's resurgence, the sport has proliferated and sled dog races are hosted in towns around the world, from Norway and Finland to Alaska and Michigan. Due to the cold temperatures needed for sled dog racing, most races are held in winter in cold climates, but occasional carting events, typically known as dryland races, have been held in warmer weather.[8] Other similar sports that using mushing as a means for transport include; carting, pulka, dog scootering, skijoring, freighting, and weight pulling. These are not included in this list because they do not use sleds.

A resurfaced race in 2020 is the Klondike Dog Derby, a 40-mile race around Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior, Minnesota. The race began in the 1930s and died out in 1998, until recently restarting.[8][9] The majority of sled dog races in North America are held close to the northern border of the United States or farther north. Well-attended races in the United States such as the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon,[10] Apostle Island Sled Dog Race,[11] and the U.P. 200,[8][12] all take place in the upper regions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, respectively. After these races, the majority of dog sled races take place farther north, in Canada or Alaska.[8] The Klondike Dog Derby is one of few held in a more urban area that is not in the far north.[8] Bringing the sport to an urban area of Minnesota has brought attention from local news sources and residents, allowing for first-hand familiarization and education of the sport of mushing that is otherwise hard to come across in an area that is not in the far north. The accessory events held the weekend of the Klondike Dog Derby include the Hug-a-Husky event, Meet the Musher, and allotted time for the public to hear musher's talk and answer questions on the sport.[9] These events follow the same outline as the Klondike Dog Derby originally had, starting in the 1930s during Hennepin County's winter ice carnivals.[8] The original race took place during a festival held annually by the Works Progress Administration called "Klondike Day." The festival featured a coronation of an Ice Princess and Ice Queen, a snow modeling contest, ski races, a skating party, and the dog derby. The race featured different classes and allowed people of all ages to harness their dogs to any sled they had at their disposal. This served as a way to connect sled dog racing to the people and bring the community together, thus bringing further attention to the sport throughout the area.[8] The race was reintroduced in 2020 as a tribute dog mushers and their commitment to the sport. The race allows for spectators and gives people an opportunity to meet the racers and their dogs. This is meant to create a more interactive atmosphere surrounding the sport in the upper Midwest.[13]

There are three typical types of sled dog races: sprint, mid-distance, and long-distance. These types can be broken down into sub-types. Sprint races cover relatively short distances of 4 to 25 miles/day, mid-distance races cover a total of 100 to 300 miles, and long-distance races cover 300 miles to more than 1,000 miles. Sprint races frequently are two- or three-day events with heats run on successive days with the same dogs on the same course. Mid-distance races are either heat races of 14 to 80 miles per day, or continuous races of 100 to 200 miles. (These categories are informal and may overlap to a certain extent.) Long-distance races may be continuous or stage races, in which participants run a different course each day, usually from a central staging location.

Generally, teams start one after another in equal time intervals, competing against the clock rather than directly against one another. This is due to logistic considerations of getting teams of dogs to the starting line for a clean timed start. Mass starts where all of the dog teams start simultaneously are popular in parts of Canada. Another mode of dogsled racing is the freight race, in which a specified weight per dog is carried in the sled.

Sprint races[edit]

Mid-distance races[edit]

Long-distance races[edit]

Multiple events[edit]

Several festivals or events host several races in a short span of time. In most cases, an event will host several different classes of events separated by distance and the number of dogs allowed. The festivals listed below may be affiliated with a mushing club.

Club seasons[edit]

Organized sprint mushing clubs typically host a series of small races as part of a season of competition. These races often change from one season to another, and are not notable enough on an individual level to warrant separate articles.

Sled Dog Racing Breeds[edit]

The Alaskan Husky is said to be the most popular dog sledding breed. National Geographic says that when looking for qualities in a sled dog, you should look first at their feet. Since the races usually last for a long time, especially in the hard weather conditions, the feet of the dog tend to bear most of the work. Since softer feet don't usually do that well in those conditions and putting booties on dogs slow them down, that is what makes the Alaskan Husky so great at these races.

In addition, Alaskan Huskies are mixed-breed, which has been happening for many generations. The breeding focuses on the parts of the huskies that do well for racing: endurance, strength, speed, tough feet, and appetites. Arguably, next to having good feet, the ability to be harnessed and race with a team is the next most important trait for making the Alaska Husky the most popular and best dog sledding breed.


  1. ^ International Sled Dog Racing Association. "History of Sled Dog Racing Archived 2009-07-21 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  2. ^ Lakes Region Sled Dog Club
  3. ^ White, Tim. "A history of mushing before we knew it" Archived 2009-02-18 at the Wayback Machine. International Federation of Sleddog Sports, Inc. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  4. ^ Official Report of the 1932 Olympic Winter Games. LA84 Foundation. 1932. pp. 250–254.
  5. ^ King, C (2015). Native Americans in Sports. p. 307.
  6. ^ "History – Iditarod". iditarod.com. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  7. ^ a b Freeman, L. Father of the Iditarod - The Joe Redington Story. Epicenter Press. pp. 222–320.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Arnett, L.; Hills, L. (1994). Siberian Husky (2nd ed.). International Siberian Husky Club. pp. 17–19.
  9. ^ a b c "History". Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  10. ^ beargrease. "John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon". John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  11. ^ "Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race". Bayfield. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  12. ^ "The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association (UP 200)". The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association (UP 200). Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  13. ^ "Klondike Dog Derby". swnewsmedia. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
  14. ^ www.northernpinessdr.com
  15. ^ Aisdr.org
  16. ^ "Baltic cup"
  17. ^ "Advance Pet Foods Sled Dog Challenge"
  18. ^ a b Famous Firsts, Natalie Rompella 2007, page 15, the All Alaska Sweepstakes was held in Alaska which was only a territory in 1917 and not part of the United States.
  19. ^ Her er Grønlands flotteste hundespand | Sermitsiaq.AG
  20. ^ Big Land Challenge. "Race info" Archived 2008-11-02 at the Wayback Machine, biglandchallenge.com. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  21. ^ Alaska Dog Mushers Association. "GCI Open North American Championship" Archived 2009-04-09 at the Wayback Machine, sleddog.org. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  22. ^ Tok Dog Mushers Association. "Tok Dog Mushers Association", tokdogmushers.org. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  23. ^ Dillingham Chamber of Commerce. "2009 Western Alaska Sled Dog Races" Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, dillinghamak.com. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  24. ^ "Home". huskyracing.org.uk.
  25. ^ www.WolfTrackClassic.com
  26. ^ Hartt, Dave. "Can-Am Crown profile" January 22, 2012. Accessed March 5, 2012.
  27. ^ Copper Basin 300. "Copper Basin 300 sled dog race" Archived 2009-02-25 at the Wayback Machine, cb300.com. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  28. ^ CopperDog 150. "CopperDog 150 Sled-Dog Race", copperdog150.com. Accessed April 14, 2011.
  29. ^ Eagle Cap Extreme. "Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race", Eaglecapextreme.com. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  30. ^ Gin Gin 200. "Gin Gin 200 Race Information", gingin200.com. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  31. ^ Big Lake Aurora Lions Club. "Klondike 300" Archived 2009-05-08 at the Wayback Machine, Klondike300.org. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  32. ^ "Nome-Council 200 Sled Dog Race". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  33. ^ "Nome and Kotzebue Mushers Set to Race in Nome-Council 200". KNOM Radio Mission. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  34. ^ "Council race". www.nomekennelclub.com. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  35. ^ Nunavut Tourism. "Nunavut Quest" Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, nunavuttourism.com. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  36. ^ Staff Report. "Funding shortage cancels Qimualaniq Quest", CBC News. March 6, 2009. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  37. ^ “TCSDR.org
  38. ^ Tustumena 200. "Tustumena 200 history" Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine, tustumena200.com. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  39. ^ Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association. "U.P. 200 Sled Dog Championship" Archived 2009-02-24 at the Wayback Machine, up200.org. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  40. ^ Sandwich Dog Sled Races
  41. ^ HOPE Sled Dog Race. "About the HOPE Race" Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine, hopesleddograce.com. 1992. Accessed February 28, 2009.
  42. ^ "Iditarod - Last Great Race on Earth®". iditarod.com. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  43. ^ beargrease. "About John Beargrease". John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  44. ^ "Race to the Sky – Montana's Premier Sled Dog Races". racetothesky.org. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  45. ^ "Yukon Quest | THE 1,000 MILE INTERNATIONAL SLED DOG RACE – Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon". www.yukonquest.com. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  46. ^ "VOLGAQUEST 2020 Eng". volgaquest.org. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  47. ^ "Volga Quest – Iditarod". iditarod.com. 9 February 2020. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  48. ^ Fur Rondy. "Anchorage Fur Rendezvous" Archived 2009-05-22 at the Wayback Machine, furrondy.net. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  49. ^ Winterdance Dogsled Tours. "Haliburton Highlands Dogsled Derby", winterdance.com. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  50. ^ Lakes Region Sled Dog Club. "Race notes", lrsdc.org. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  51. ^ "Many snowy paws set to mush on in sled festival at Cardrona Snow Farm". The Southland Times. August 22, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  52. ^ Affiliated British Sleddog Activities. "ABSA season of sleddog activities 2009-10", absasleddogracing.org.uk. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  53. ^ Alaska Dog Mushers Association. "Alaska Dog Mushers Association", sleddog.org. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  54. ^ British Siberian Husky Racing Association. Calendar, huskyracing.org.uk. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  55. ^ Chugiak Dog Mushers. "Race schedule" Archived 2002-12-14 at the Wayback Machine, chugiakdogmushers.com. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  56. ^ The Siberian Husky Club of NSW Inc. "Sledding Calendar and Results" Archived 2011-02-23 at the Wayback Machine, sledding.shcnsw.org.au. Accessed May 13, 2010.

External links[edit]