Thursday, February 2, 2017

Canadian Challenge: February is Here!

February is here.
A month deep into winter.
Winter, a season for me full of adventure.

Two years ago I attended the Canadian Challenge Dog Sled Race that runs 600 km or 350 miles as a dog handler for Randy Mackenzie.  
It was quite the adventure and for those who didn't follow the 2015 race you'll have to ask us about it one day.  Instead, for now, I want to focus on this years race.

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of a race that follows a route not unlike the ones that trappers, the Northwest Mounted Police or the First Nations communities would have traveled between Prince Albert and La Ronge.
The Canadian Challenge has been recognized as a world class-sporting event being the longest race that starts, runs, and finishes in Canada and is a qualifying race toward the Yukon Quest and Iditarod.   It is not an easy race, full of challenges, and continues to bring back mushers year after year.  Teams from all across Canada, the United States, Australia, Germany, Serbia and Belgium have come to participate over the years. 

As the countdown begins to the official start date of February 21st I find myself without a team to work for.  Not wanting to miss out on the fun, adventure, the cold and even lack of sleep I have made up my mind to follow along in order to keep a photo and written journal of this amazing event.

I have been lucky enough to have had the experience of tasting a little of what has drawn men and women to want to drive a team of dogs into the wild for many miles.  Rick Wannamaker has given me the gift of opportunity helping run his dogs during training, and I've learned so much and have grown to love the idea of mid-distance racing.

I have been asked "Why?" many times.
Why would anyone want to run a races such as this?

It is the connection that one makes with themselves, the land and more importantly between the musher and their dogs.  We all know that dogs love unconditionally, but I believe a musher loves their dogs back just as much.  The bond and trust runs deep between human and dogs on a team, and it shows.  What could be a better adventure than being out in the wild with only your best friends?

I have been speaking with many of the mushers and will give them a voice here, on this blog, so that you may see their own reasons as to why.  Each story is different and I will share with you something about each.  Some of the mushers I call good friends, few I meet once or twice a year through the dogs, and still others I shall call friend when we finally are able to meet in person for the first time.

I hope that you will join me as we gear up to head onward to Saskatchewan in just over 2 weeks.   Teams are scrambling to get in those last few runs as they prepare themselves and their super athletes. 
Many volunteers are working long hours putting in trails, gathering up sponsorships and doing all those little and big jobs that no one sees or thinks of when it comes to putting on such a large event.
Those are also the stories I hope to share here as well.

My own excitement builds, especially after speaking to Remy Leduc the musher who will be traveling the furthest to join us.  That however shall wait for the next post.

February is finally here.
A month deep into winter.
A month that calls us to Saskatchewan and the Canadian Challenge.

Photo Credit: Jim Williams

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is great Rochelle, will be great to see you. I'm handling for Team Taylor again. I have such memories of your 2015 experience and Randy's truck problems!! Your blog was fab and captured the flavour of the challenges of the Challenge. Thanks for crediting Jims photo too..he is doing the FB element again, and I am wondering if you would be kind enough that he could link your blog to the FB page?
Looking forward to catching up in a couple of weeks, Sarah

Sophie said...

And now I am officially excited!!! Thank you for sharing your adventure and I look forward to the next couple weeks. wooohoooo!!!

Rod Young said...

Looking forward to following your FB blog coverage of the 2017 Canadian Challenge. Happy trails.