Let’s see….what are POSITVE things that can be said about a truly weird winter? Lower heating bills – yes. Less snow shoveling – yes. Hmmmm….that’s about it.
By now, you have all heard that we had to cancel the race due to, well, lack of snow. Some of my friends are wondering why we cancelled when we MAY get snow a few days before the race. Let me explain.
First off – there are organizational reasons. It takes two days to mark the trail. By that I mean placing reflective arrows all along the trail to help direct the teams along the trails. We put up at least one marker per kilometer – and that is alot! In addition to that, our race organization does not groom the trails. We rely on the wonderful folks in the local snowmobile clubs that are real pros at grooming. We can’t guarantee that they would get out and have the trails completely opened just a few days before a race.
Second – mushers need to control their teams. Everyone has seen photos or video of teams moving beautifully down the trail……but have you ever stopped and thought about how you STOP a team? If a musher wants to “park” a team, the musher uses a snowhook – a two pronged sharp “anchor” that is attached to the gang line by a rope and stamped into the snow. You have to have about 6 inches of PACKED snow to attempt to hold teams with a snow hook (or two or three). We can’t guarantee that either.
Third – there are safety reasons. Since we have little to no snow, most mushers have been using ATVs to train their teams. The dogs pull the ATV (usually in a low gear to slow the dogs down) at a low speed. This helps them learn to pull properly and really puts alot of muscle on the dogs. Once there is enough snow, a musher will switch to a sled and S-L-O-W-L-Y increase the speed at which the dogs run. It is very hard on the dogs to jump from ATV training to sled training/racing without a few days or weeks to get them used to running for endurance and speed rather than strength. Alot of shoulder and wrist injuries could occur and we certainly do not want that to happen.
So those are the reasons we “pulled the plug” yesterday. We are so thankful for all the support the mushers and businesses have given us. The Voyaguers Classic 2013 race registrations opens September 1, 2012. See you next year!
Voyageurs Classic Race Director