Garrick Schmidt will be entering his first dog sled competition in northern Saskatchewan. It’s a challenge he was always keeping his eye on, so this year, he will embark on this new goal in his life.
The Canadian Challenge is Canada’s premier dog sled race and is a popular event that has been around since 1994.
The 25th anniversary of the Canadian Dog Sled Challenge begins on Feb. 24, 2022, with three different competitions from the 10, eight and the six-dog sled races. When registration first opened up in September, Schmidt had been training.
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“A few weeks ago, it was a mix of emotions. I was really nervous and really excited,” said Schmidt. “Now, I’m excited, especially being my first race. I’m looking forward to how it’s going to go.”
Schmidt owns 24 dogs but will be entering the eight-dog sled race. He has been training every two days to ensure his dog team is ready for the upcoming challenge.
“We have been training pretty much when the temperature started dipping in October,” he said. “As the temperatures continued to drop, the mileages increased. It would go from half an hour run to an hour run…since we started training, we’re over 600 miles in total.”
The eight-dog race starts begins in La Ronge, where competitors mush 80 km north to Missinipe where the teams stay overnight and return to La Ronge the next day. A one-way trip for the fastest teams could be done in six hours.
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Mushers come from across the country and even from the United States. This event is held every year in northern Saskatchewan, as organizers say it’s a great region of the province with good snow coverage.
The trails are part of the old trails called “freight trails” that were used in the late 1800s during the winter months to carry manufactured goods northward.
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The trail has history but it also has the beautiful scenery of northern Saskatchewan that appeals to spectators and mushers.
“It appeals to people to have the traditional look of a dog team traveling through the north,” said Anna Bolvin, Canadian Challenge president. “It appeals to peoples’ sense of adventure to see it and experience it. It’s an exciting event.”
Monetary prizes are given to those who win the race and also an award will be given to the best-kept team who take extra care of their dogs right down to the littlest detail. This event is a qualifier for the Yukon quest or the Iditarod Race.
Canadian Challenge participants can win up to $3,000.
People can follow all the teams in each race at the Canadian Challenge website.
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