Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race holds annual membership meeting

Matt Gardner
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Members of the Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race held their annual general meeting on Saturday in the log cabin at the P.A. Exhibition grounds.

Left to right: Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race president Gill Gracie, vice-president Bart de Marie and treasurer Bernie Zintel facilitate Saturday’s annual membership meeting in the log cabin building at the P.A. Exhibition grounds.

President Gill Gracie, vice-president Bart de Marie and treasurer Bernie Zintel all offered reports on this year and the organization’s eponymous sled dog race, which was deemed an overall success.

“We had a really good start in Prince Albert, and it went well,” Gracie said. “We had 17 teams start. A couple dropped out, but the rest of them finished easily. There was no serious problem with injuries or anything like that, so we’re quite happy with that.”

Various topics came up for discussion over the course of the meeting, beginning with a proposal that organizers modify the finish time.

“We’d had some suggestion that we should reduce the finish time, because we’ve had mushers finish well within it for the last several years,” Gracie said.

The eight-dog race has a scheduled finish time of 6 a.m. on Friday morning, giving rise to the suggestion that the finish time should be changed to midnight on Thursday, by which time most of the mushers have usually finished.

Similar debate arose over the 12-dog race, which has the same finish times but one day later.

Ultimately, members chose to retain the current finish times.

“It gives people a chance if it is slower running,” Gracie noted.

The fate of the 12-dog race itself came under question, in part due to the advancing age of regular competitors.

Only seven mushers competed in the event this year, and four have already informed organizers that they will not be taking part again next year.

Weighing the cost-benefit ratio, members decided to maintain the race for the time being.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time contacting mushers and finding out what their intentions are, both right away and in the years to come and see if we can’t keep it alive, because it is a qualifier for the Iditarod and for the Yukon Quest and we don’t want to lose that status,” Gracie said.

Other topics of discussion included the group’s annual fundraising efforts at the Prince Albert Exhibition and recognition of those who help sponsors in La Ronge.

Approximately 15 people attended the meeting, which also included a barbecue.

“We’re disappointed in the numbers (who attended),” Gracie said. “Usually we get more than this, but I think the weather and some other factors combined. There are other things going on.

“I know two more people from La Ronge had family events that they couldn’t come and so on. But it went and we’ll be reporting it online to the members and take it from there.”

Elections after the meeting resulted in a board of directors that will remain largely the same as before, save for two vacant positions which remain unfilled for the time being and the election of Allan Sheremata as the new vice-president.

Outgoing vice-president de Marie, who remains on the board of directors, noted the importance of the annual membership meeting in helping the sled dog race maintain its relevance.

“I think next year will be its 18th year,” he said. “Times change, and are we still in the right format? Maybe we have to change our point of view, because what works back 17 years ago might not work anymore this year.

“So I think it’s been a pretty good meeting and … I look forward to start working here again for next year.”


Organizations: Daily Herald

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