Dogsled racing, more accurately referred to as Sleddog Racing, is a winter dog sport involving the timed competition of teams of
sleddogsthat pull a sled with the dog driver or "musher" standing on the runners. The team completing the marked course in the least time is judged the winner. Dog Sled Racing is also a fall sport where competitors use a rig ( 3-4 wheeled cart with a locking brake and handle/steering wheel) or scooter on dirt or mud instead of a sled on snow.
Dogsled races may be "sprint" races over relatively short distances of 4 to 25 miles/day, "mid-distance" races from 28 to 200 miles, or "long-distance" races of 200 to over 1000 miles. The most famous long-distance race is the
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Sprint races frequently are two or three-day events with heats run on successive days with the same dogs over the same course. Mid-distance races are either "heat races" of 14 to 80 miles per day, or "continuous races" of 100 to 200 miles usually. (These categories are informal and may overlap to a certain extent.) Long-distance races may be continuous or "stage races", in which participants run a different course each day, usually from a central staging location.
Generally the teams start one after another in equal time intervals, competing against the clock rather than directly against one another. This is due to logistic considerations of getting teams of from 3 to 24 excited sleddogs to the starting line for a clean timed start. Mass starts where all of the dog teams start simultaneously are very popular in many parts of Canada. A mass start, thought to be mass confusion by those who have never experienced the thrill, is still the start method preferred by the members of Ma-Mow-We-Tak Sled Dog Racing Association, http://www.mamowwetak.homestead.com a Canadian sled dog association, according to a poll taken in the spring of 2005.
Another mode of dogsled racing is the "freight race", in which a specified weight per
dogis carried in the sled.
Races are categorised not only by distance, but by the maximum number of dogs allowed in each team. The most usual categories are four-dog, six-dog, eight-dog, ten-dog, and unlimited (also called open), although other team size categories can be found.
Racing sleddogs wear individual harnesses to which individual "tuglines" are snapped, pulling from a loop near the root of the tail. The dogs are hooked in pairs, their tuglines being attached in turn to a central "gangline". The lines usually include short "necklines" snapped to each dog’s collar, just to keep the dogs in proper position. It is unusual ever to see more than 22 dogs hooked at once in a racing team, and that number is usually seen only on the first day of the most highly competitive sprint events. Dogs may be omitted from the teams on subsequent days, but none may be added. Many other rules apply, most of which have been in effect since the beginning of organised dogsled racing in the city of
Nome, Alaska, in 1908.
A sled dog race was a demonstration sport at the
1932 Winter Olympicsin Lake Placid, New York, but it did not gain official event status.
American Dog Derby Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Sled dogs
* [http://www.isdra.org/ International Sled Dog Racing Association]
* [http://www.sleddog.com Sleddog.com]
* [http://sleddoggin.com/event Worldwide Dog Sled Racing Event Calendar] - includes race results
* [http://www.sleddogsport.com/ International Federation of Sleddog Sports]
* [http://www.esdra.net/European Sled Dog Racing Association]
* [http://www.kearneydogsled.com/ Kearney, Ontario, Canada Dog Sled Races] , registration and schedules.
* [http://www.huskyracing.org.uk/ British Siberian Husky Racing Championships] , news, photos, results.
* [http://www.mushwithpride.org/ Mush with Pride]
* [http://www.trappersfestival.com/ World Championship Dog Race] Northern Manitoba Trappers Festival
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