Fox Lake sledder three peats at Babe Southwick

Fox Lake's Armin Johnson made it three in a row and two in a row with one race on Sunday. Johnson won the Babe Southwick Memorial Race a third year in a row.

Fox Lake’s Armin Johnson made it three in a row and two in a row with one race on Sunday.

Johnson won the Babe Southwick Memorial Race a third year in a row. It was also the second race in a row he won on the old Yukon Dog Mushers Association trails in the Ibex Valley where the race was held.

Temperatures on Sunday were just around the freezing mark, much warmer than Yukon Brewing Twister race he won there in December.

“I was looking at the times and it was over two minutes slower for the winning times,” said Johnson. “It was hotter … Sled dogs like minus 20 – that’s perfect for them. They don’t overheat and learn how to run in that.

“That first race it was almost 30 below and we were only running six dogs then, but the times were all way faster. It was the same trail and the dogs should be in way better shape by now.”

Johnson and his team of 10 dogs completed the roughly 12-mile (19-kilometre) course in 44 minutes and 52 seconds.

Tagish’s Dave Johnson (no relation) placed second at 47:56 and Teslin’s Jerry Joinson placed third at 49:33. Dave and Joinson were also running teams of 10.

Armin wasn’t the only racer to defend a title Sunday. Mount Lorne’s Katherine Sheepway repeated in the skijor event and Armin’s wife Mandy in the recreation class.

Sheepway and her four dogs completed the 12-mile course in 46:06 to be the second fastest overall counting the sleds.

Ibex Valley’s Virginia Sarrazin placed second at 51:17 and Whitehorse’s Magnus Kaltenborn third at 54:47.

Sunday’s race, which was hosted by Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon (DPSAY), illustrated the growth of skijoring.

For the first time in recent history – maybe ever – skijorers outnumbers the mushers seven to five in the 12-mile main event.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure that’s ever happened,” said Sarrazin, president of DPSAY. “Magnus Kaltenborn, some of his dogs are injured, so he decided to come skijoring this time.”

“It really seems to be growing, that skijoring,” said Armin. “You couldn’t get me to hook myself up to four dogs on a set of skis, that’s for sure. Yeah, they’re pretty brave for doing that.”

Mandy and her team of six dogs won the six-mile (9.6-kilometre) rec division with a time of 13:26. Kaltenborn finished second at 16:33 and was the top skijorer in the race.

Youngsters also hit the trail – well, about a 100 yards of it – for the kid’s one-dog race.

Harley Kloer placed first at 1:15, Elan Johnson second at 1:21, Mikayla Power third at 1:26 and Bode Johnson fourth at 2:19.

“We’re really trying to get kids involved in the sport and so every race we’ve had this year through DPSAY we’ve put on a little kiddy race afterwards,” said Mandy. “That’s getting to be the highlight for us because it’s fun to watch them and there’s always something exciting that happens.

“Our one little guy, Bode, when the dogs took off somehow his legs came off the runners and he dragged behind a little bit.”

Sunday’s race was originally going to be held at Armin and Mandy’s Yukon Horsepacking Adventures outfit at Fox Lake but was moved to the due to trail conditions.

The trail system at Ibex Valley was once used by the now-defunct Yukon Dog Mushers Association and was originally put in in 1975.

The Babe Southwick Memorial Race is named after female musher who died of a heart attack in 1965 during the race when it was a two-day long distance event.

“Hopefully we’ll get it back on track as a two-day race next year or the year after,” said Sarrazin.

Contact Tom Patrick at


Dog sled (12 miles)

1st Armin Johnson – 44:52

2nd Dave Johnson – 47:56

3rd Jerry Joinson – 49:33

4th Gerry Willomitzer – 55:42

5th Matt Rydholm – 59:34

Skijor (12 miles)

1st Katherine Sheepway – 46:06

2nd Virginia Sarrazin – 51:17

3rd Magnus Kaltenborn – 54:47

4th Cynthia Corriveau – 55:40

5th Jess Wood – 59:18

6th Katherine Sandiford – 59:54

7th Adam Robinson – 1:08:09

Sled and skijor (6 miles)

1st Mandy Johnson – 13:26

2nd Magnus Kaltenborn – 16:33

3rd Kristina Young – 17:07

4th Dominic Firth-Gruben – 18:03

5th Lexi Joinson – 18:10

6th Isabel Firth-Gruben – 18:46

7th Lindsay Caskenette – 21:52

8th Cynthia Corriveau (kicksled) – 22:51

9th Bjorg Skovmand Helmstad – 27:46

Kids one-dog race

1st Harley Kloer – 1:15

2nd Elan Johnson – 1:21

3rd Mikayla Power – 1:26

4th Bode Johnson – 2:19

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