A musher and team at the 2018 Canadian Championship Dog Derby in Yellowknife. Fran Hurcomb/Canadian Championship Dog Derby
One of the NWT’s top dog mushing events takes place this weekend as teams arrive in Yellowknife for the Canadian Championship Dog Derby.
The derby goes ahead as planned with a start line on Yellowknife Bay, despite an unusually warm March causing the neighbouring Long John Jamboree to relocate from the bay to the fieldhouse parking lot.
Weather conditions may, however, affect start times. Organizers expect to confirm published start times (see below) by Thursday evening.
Four-dog, six-dog, and 10-dog races will take place in three stages over consecutive days from Friday to Sunday. Sunday also features shorter exhibition races for children and adult amateurs.
Races at the derby last for up to 150 miles (241 km) in total.
While the Canadian Championship is Yellowknife’s annual showcase for leading mushers from the territory and beyond, the sport’s season has been in full swing since December.
Here’s a form guide for NWT mushers (though not all will be on the start line this weekend).
In January, Fort Providence musher Danny Beaulieu won Hay River’s showpiece – the Aurora Ford Classic – ahead of Yellowknife musher Cai Reid in second place.
From there, late January’s Anzac Winterfest race in Alberta saw NWT brother-and-sister duo Alexis and Zach Campbell, in the six-dog and 10-dog events, finish fourth and third respectively.
In February, one of the sport’s top events – calling itself the World Championship – in The Pas, Manitoba, hosted a three-day, 105-mile race with more than $50,000 in prize money.
In The Pas, Yellowknife’s Richard Beck came third with a time of six hours, 31 minutes, and 48 seconds, followed closely by Fort Providence’s Beaulieu – who was just three minutes back, finishing in 6:35:07. Reed was seventh in 6:51:04.
Most recently, a two-day race in Enterprise with a 12-dog division saw Beck place second, Beaulieu third, and TJ Fordy fourth. In the six-dog category, Beck placed third.
Meanwhile, at Alaska’s Fur Rendezvous, the NWT’s Brent Beck was the only NWT musher in action – finishing 14th.
On Thursday, Cabin Radio will continue building up to the 2019 Canadian Championship Dog Derby with a profile of NWT and worldwide mushers on the starting line for this year’s races.