When we reached the races the first thing we noticed was the small number of racers. Normally there are about 60 sleds in the race but this year the number was down to about half that. I’m not sure of the reason although it has been a bitterly cold winter.
Every race requires a large number of volunteers to get the sled dog teams to the start line. In the first shot the race officials were giving the volunteers instructions on how to work with the mushers to get the team to the start line.
In this shot officials were showing how to attach the anchor for the sled. As each team arrives at the start line an anchor is attached so the team cannot talk off before the start time. When the team is ready to go the anchor is handed to the musher.
We wandered around the area taking photos of the teams as they were getting ready for the race. I photographed from a pile of sand while some of the 8 team sled dogs took off. At this point there seems to be complete chaos but in reality a sled dog race is a highly choreographed event.
There were a large number of spectators near the start area but during the short break in the race while the next category of racers were preparing and most of the spectators left the area and didn’t return. I suspect they all went down to the ice caves which were accessible for the first time in 5 years.
I moved down the race course to get some photos of the spectators and teams as then came flying by. One of the things I notices was that the snow was really coming down in large flakes and it made it very difficult to focus the camera.
After another short break before the next category of racers I moved closer to the start line to help prevent my camera from searching for focus in the heavy snowfall. It also gave me a little different perspective on the race.
At the end of the race there were some younger racers. The youngest was 7 years old and he had two dogs hooked up to his sled. His mother followed on the next sled. That seemed to be the pattern for the younger racers. They were all followed out into the course by the mother.
With fewer racers participating we were able to head to Bayfield for lunch by late morning. After a lunch in Bayfield we returned to the race to watch some of the racers return to the starting line. Usually all of the dog teams that come in are dragging but some seem to still have a lot on energy. On racer said it was tough going because the trail was a little soft with the fresh snow. It snowed for most of the race.
More photos from the race can be found on my website.
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