Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HITTING THE TRAIL – Martin Haelefe begins the two-mile, two-dog bike-jor race with Atausiq, left, and Lachlan during the Dog Powered Sports Association of Yukon’s first Hot Hounds race of the season Sunday at the Mount Lorne Recreation Centre.

Mushers trade in their sleds for bikes

The snow may have melted, but that did not stop a group of mushers from getting out and racing their dogs on Sunday

By John Tonin on June 4, 2019

The snow may have melted, but that did not stop a group of mushers from getting out and racing their dogs on Sunday at the Mount Lorne Community Centre for the Dog Powered Sports Association of Yukon Hot Hound Race.

The mushers, who traded in their sleds and skis for bikes, had their choice of racing on either a 1.2-mile course with one dog or a 1.9-mile course with two dogs.

Katherine Scheck hosted and marked the two trails for the eight mushers who competed.

“Ideally, (I) wanted to make a really enjoyable course that was fun for both the mushers and the dogs,” said Scheck.

She said she wanted to give the mushers and dogs a different variety on the courses.

“They had a little bit of everything,” said Scheck. “There were a couple of hills as well as nice flat smooth sections. There was also lots of gee/haw turns.”

Gee, the command from a musher for the dog to turn right, and haw, left, meant the mushers had a “lot of places to make decisions,” said Scheck.

Although Scheck said she did not race, and regrets not doing so, she had fun as a spectator.

“I wished I had raced,” said Scheck about watching all the mushers on the trails.

Jonathan Lucas and Martin Haefele were the two competitors in the 2-mile, 2-dog bike-jor.

Lucas had a time of 10 minutes, 23 seconds and Haefele finished the course in 10 minutes even.

The 1-mile, 1-dog bike-jor had the largest contingent of mushers with five competing teams.

It was a tie for first as Lucas and Claudia Wickert both ran the course in six minutes flat.

Haefele and his dog needed seven minutes, seven seconds on the course to secure the third quickest time.

Haefele said bike-joring is good practice for future lead dogs.

“If there is a disagreement on where to go you can pull the dog a little bit while giving the command,” said Haefele. “It’s a good way to train leaders because you can give the command and steer.”

Haefele also said on the bike it is a lot easier to help the dogs because you can peddle.

“It is a lot of fun,” said Haefele. “The dogs love it. You go much faster.”

Coady Lee, the last place finisher in this category, completed the course in eight minutes, 37 seconds. However, Lee accidentally followed the 2-mile trail and subsequently, if he had signed up to race in that category he would have had the quickest time.

The final race category of the day was the 1-mile canicross races. In canicross, the musher attaches a dog, or dogs, to his or her waist and runs with them.

Berenike Ziemert was the quickest, needing nine minutes, 25 seconds on the trail before reaching the finish line.

Lucas, who competed in all the categories, was second, in 10 minutes, five seconds.

Hot Hounds is a monthly race series for the snow-free months, and the races are held at different locations each month. These events are great for dog lovers of all skill levels to get out on some new trail and to have fun with their dogs.

The next race is scheduled for July 6 at the research forest and will be held in the morning.

“In the longer distances, the dogs appreciate the morning,” said Haefele.

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