Annual sled dog race set for Christopher Lake

Matt Gardner
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Christopher Lake will be the focal point for the fourth annual Torch River Run Sled Dog Race, set to take place on the first weekend in March.

Randy Sanders and his team compete in a past Torch River Run Sled Dog Race.

Racers and their dogs will travel 40 miles per day on Saturday and Sunday, stopping periodically to enjoy some hearty meals with fellow “mushers.”

“We’re billing it as sort of a Fun Run, but there’s some professionals running it and some recreational mushers running it,” Torch River Run Sled Dog Race president Stewart Elliott said.

“It’s a good get-together for a wind-up in the spring. It’s one of the last races there is in the spring, and it’s sort of a culmination of going out and see(ing) your old friends and everything else. But it is a race.”

Anyone who completes the race receives a cash prize. The Torch River Run will be distributing a total of $2,500 in prize money this year.

Unlike other races where the winner takes most of the prize money, the Torch River Run distributes funds more evenly to ensure that all racers are able to afford gas for the trip home -- though the top three finishers do receive a larger amount of cash to keep things competitive.

The 2013 sled dog race will keep to a smaller geographical area than has previously been the case.

“We’re trying this year having it all in the Christopher Lake area, and we’re getting good response from the community and lots of interest, because it all stays within this certain community,” Elliott said.

The weekend kicks off with a pancake breakfast at Christopher Lake Hotel on Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. before the race itself begins at noon.

We’re billing it as sort of a Fun Run. Stewart Elliott

Teams will make their way towards Beaton Community Club, where a special “all you can eat” stew supper and social evening will start at 6 p.m.

After breakfast on Sunday morning, teams will begin the journey back to Christopher Lake and are expected to arrive around 2 p.m.

Finally, participants will meet at the local Legion Hall around 5 p.m. for a chili supper followed by an awards presentation, wherein trophies and cash prizes for the race will be distributed.

Prize money is the biggest single expenditure for the Torch River Run organization, which relies on sponsors for most of its funding.

“There’s a board of directors and we go out and solicit sponsorships for the stuff and to cover our expenses,” Elliott said.

“After the expenses, the rest of the money goes into prize money, and we’ve had some pretty good sponsors over the years and they keep coming back.”

Participants in the Torch River Run sled dog race must utilize teams of no fewer than five dogs, with a maximum of eight dogs per team.

The race is open to people of all ages.

“We’ve had people 12 years old, and we’ve had people 70 years old,” Elliott said.

“It’s just whoever likes the sport of being out there in the outdoors with their dogs.”

Organizations: Christopher Lake Hotel, Beaton Community Club, Torch River Run organization

Geographic location: Christopher Lake

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