Willomitzer repeats at Mount Lorne Christmas Classic

The Mount Lorne Christmas Classic has taken place two times but has only had one winner.

The Mount Lorne Christmas Classic has taken place two times but has only had one winner.

Gerry Willomitzer of Shallow Bay, Yukon, made two in a row with a win at the second annual dog sled race last weekend.

“It was really good. It was a training race in a way; it’s not a high profile event, it’s not designed to be. It’s all about the dogs,” said Willomitzer, who ran 14 dogs in his team. “This is what the dogs need this time of year in preparation of the Copper Basin (300) and other races.

“Magnus Kaltenborn, I really appreciate him putting on this race, otherwise our racing calendar would be empty this time of the year.

“To have this kind of racing opportunity at home is great.”

The 47-year-old Yukon Quest and Iditarod veteran took first in the 150-mile (241-kilometre) middle-distance race from Saturday to Sunday with a time of 25 hours and 22 minutes.

Mount Lorne’s Yuka Honda took second at 26:11 and Fish Lake’s Thomas Verin third at 26:12.

Race organizer Magnus Kaltenborn of Mount Lorne placed fourth, down from third last year, with a time of 26:21.

“It was a good race, it worked out pretty well for everybody,” said Kaltenborn.

“It was a little different format (from last year). It was the first time we did it like this and I’m glad we tried it. I think it worked pretty well.”

Last year the inaugural Christmas Classic was a two-day stage race. This year it was a continuous 150-mile race with two mandatory five-hour breaks.

Teams took off from the Mount Lorne Community Centre to the Skookum Mine and back to the Mount Lorne golf course before a break, then to Alligator Lake and back to the community centre for the second layover, and finally to the Skookum Mine and back.

Kristina Disney, Willomitzer’s handler at his Blackjack Racing Kennel, placed fifth with a time of 26:21.

A total of 11 teams participated in this year’s race, with three ending their run after 100 miles and one after 50 miles.

The event is an independent race put on by mushers, for mushers, with no affiliation to the Dog Powered Sports Association (DPSAY) of the Yukon or the Yukon Dog Mushers Association.

“I’d like to thank everyone who helped out with the race and all the mushers who came out,” said Kaltenborn. “Some of my motivation for putting on this race is that there aren’t too many dog sled races in the Yukon and they’re usually sprint races. So I wanted to create a race that’s more geared towards distance mushing.”

The Christmas Classic was held on some of the same trails that will be used at the 23rd annual Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race — a DPSAY event — on Jan. 15.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com