The Northwest Sled Dog Association

Lee Eberle, Hairy Houdini


The Northwest Sled Dog Association was formed in 1959 by dog mushers in the State of Washington. It has grown and expanded over the years to include around eighty ( 80 ) active members in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. The Pacific Northwest is truly a paradise on earth. It has everything; mountains, forests, prairies, lakes, streams and rivers. Unfortunately, the one thing it doesn't have for dog mushers is a consistent long lasting snowfall. While many of our members are able to do some running on snow by training in the mountains, we usually have to travel up into northern British Columbia or down into central Oregon to race on snow. This has not prevented the members of the Northwest Sled Dog Association from putting on exciting seasons of competition year after year. We do this the same way you, in the United Kingdom, do - we race carts.

This past year, after much debate and careful planning we decided to have our series of sprint races sanctioned by the International Sled Dog Racing Association ( ISDRA ). We were hoping that at least one other club from another ISDRA Region would sanction a Gig Race ( ISDRA uses the term Gig rather than cart ) because that one additional race from some other Region would revive the ISDRA Medals Program which had been inactive for gigs since last awarded in 1988. That didn't happen but we did put on enough events toqualify for both Regional and International status. We ran five ( 5 ) races with sanctioned classes for 8, 6, 4, and 3-dog teams. We also ran non-sanctioned classes for Novice ( 3 or 4-dog teams) and Junior ( 1 or 2-dog teams ) at all five events and a mid-distance class at two of them. The minimum miles per heat was 1/2 mile per dog with the 4 and 3- dog teams always running the same course. The 3-dog teams actually ran the farthest distances per dog with the longest actual distance being 3 miles per day at one event.

At the Canadian Rendezvous held in October '96 the winning 8-dog team turned in times of 11:51 and 12:08 for a two day total of 23:59 on a 4.1 ( 8.2 total ) mile course. The time for the winning team in the final race which was held at the same site in March '97 ( one day only with the second day canceled because of snow and ice! ) was 10:54 by the same team. The 6-dog teams ran 3.2 ( 6.4 total ) miles per day in times of 9:28 and 9:30 for a total of 18:58. The second place team was only 15 seconds off and actually had the faster time on the second day. That time was shortened to 8:49 at the March race. It was done by the second place finisher of the first race. The 4-dogs ran 2.0 ( 4.0 total ) miles in 7:45 and 7:46 for a total of 15:31. The first three finishers were within 37 seconds of each other after two days. This time was likewise shortened to 7:16 by the same team. The 3-dog teams ran 2.0 ( 4.0 total ) miles in times of 11:46 and 9:54. These were shattered at the March race (by my daughter Alexandra ) where a time of 8:39 was turned in. She had won the previous two day event by a margin of only one second. Many other races ( and placings within them ) were decided by only a few seconds also. There were also some other faster times which turned up at various races. In December a 6-dog team turned in a time of 8:38 on the same Canadian course. A 4-dog team turned in a 7:04 on the same day. At another race a 4-dog team ( mine ) turned in a time of 10:48 for a 3.0 mile heat.

We had 34 teams race in the sanctioned events and 20 teams took part in the un-sanctioned events. We are currently planning next years schedule and hoping that we can interest other clubs in other parts of the world to get involved in sanctioned races also. We are also investigating the possibility of setting up a sister club competition with a club from Australia. While most of our members run teams of Alaskan Huskies, many ( such as myself ) run teams of purebred Siberian Huskies. We also have members running teams ofSamoyeds and Alaskan Malamutes.  

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