The Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon (DPSAY) has been fighting with Mother Nature early in their season in order to run their dog mushing Twister Race Series. Both races so far in the series had been postponed due to lack of snow and warmer temperatures.
And just when they thought they had the perfect conditions with just the right amount of snow, warm weather struck just before Sunday’s Carbon Hill Race Day starting at the Lorne Mountain Community Centre.
With temperatures above 0 degrees, the fresh powder was quickly melting and it was raining in the hours leading up to race time.
But the association battled through the elements to make sure the trails were still ready to go and safe. The rain didn’t stop 13 dog mushing teams from competing in the 30-mile race around the Alligator Lake trail loop.
“The trail will get crunchy I’m afraid but it shouldn’t be rough on the dog’s feet because it’s warmer,” DPSAY president Simi Morrison said just as the 30-milers took off. “We had a person go over with the groomer again this morning of all the loops so that should have broken up the surface.”
The third race in the Twister Race series, this is the only race offering a longer-distance 30-mile race with the other events having up to a 10-mile distance.
The race has been a community staple in Mount Lorne for many years, Morrison said, and DPSAY started organizing the race a few years ago after the community decided they were unable to continue running it.
“We never used to organize this race. It was a community event for Mount Lorne, for 30 years the community did it,” she said. “We said OK we would like this to continue because it’s so popular and people really like it.”
Part of the draw to the event, Morrison said, is the amount of races hosted making it a full-day event and an opportunity for everyone to get in on the action.
“We always have kid’s dashes too but it just makes it a whole day event because it’s more races, more people, a longer distance and people really like that,” she said.
The 30-milers kicked off the day first followed by the nine racers in the 10-mile event. This field included two mushers who will be racing in the upcoming Yukon Quest. Luc Tweddell, who was there with his two daughters competing in the 30-mile run, and Claudia Wickert, a Yukon Quest rookie, both raced the shorter 10-mile distance in preparation for the
upcoming 1,000 mile Quest.
The day then turned the focus to the younger competitors with a 6-mile recreational race open to multiple methods including skiing, kick sled, or a fat bike, with a maximum of two dogs. There were a total of six competitors in the run.
Then the fun 100-yard kids dash where 12 young ones were pulled on small sleds by their furry companions.
In the 30-mile race, Martine LeLevier took the win crossing the line in just over three hours and 22 minutes.
Crispin Studer came in just under five minutes later in a time of 3:27:04 with Dana Koudelova finishing third in 3:30:58.
LeLevier won the same Carbon Hill Race in 2013, but with one big difference. That year the temperature sat around -24 degrees. The 10-mile race had an ending so coincidental that a better story couldn’t have been scripted.
Husband and wife competitors Mandy and Armin Johnson, who started about 14 minutes apart, finished with the exact same time of 34:42 to tie for first place. Luc Tweddell finished in third spot with a time of 37:38.
These three competitors were well ahead of the rest of the pack with the fourth place racer coming in 15 minutes back of Tweddell.
Even with the rainy conditions dampening the course trails, Morrison said the course was still in tact and safe to run and with the varying weather conditions that happen frequently in the territory, both the mushers and dogs are used to the challenging elements.
“In the last winters we had so many different weather conditions in the winter and the people adjust. The dogs adjust to it too,” she said.
Next up, the association will host their third race in the Twister series on Jan. 28 which was originally scheduled for mid-December, but postponed due to lack of snow.
The third event is the Cadence Cycle race and the location of the race has yet to be determined but will be where the trails are best – as long as the snow melt doesn’t continue.