When organizers planned the mud puppy derby in recent weeks, they were not expecting sunshine and dry conditions. But not one word of complaint could be heard—not even a growl of discontent.
“When we set this date it was a few weeks ago and there was a foot of snow on the ground, so we weren’t sure what we were going to get,” said organizer Wendy Morrison. “It turned out to be a very dry race.”
About 16 mushers and their four-legged motors came out for the Chocolate Claim’s Mud Puppy Derby, the first dry-season of the Copper Haul Twister series this year. It was held just off the South Klondike Highway on Saturday.
“In the summer there’s what we call the dry-land season and this is the first of the dry-land races,” said Morrison. “Last year, there was two or three over the season. This year, we decided to add in a couple more and start a little earlier because the weather was looking good.”
The derby featured three events, the one-mile pet, the one-mile sled dog and the two-mile sled dog (with two dogs). Although the dogs did not have much choice, mushers could choose between running, cycling or riding a scooter with their dogs.
“It’s an open competition so it can be any non-powered device,” said Morrison.
The day’s big winner was Jonathan Lucas, who took the first and last events. Racing with his dogs Emma and Assman, Lucas crossed the finish line just 11 seconds ahead of second place Darryl Sheepway in the two-mile event, despite going over the handlebars early in the race.
“I was too busy concentrating on the ditch leading up to the road to call the dogs to go straight ahead because I had just gone straight ahead in two races, but not with those dogs,” said Lucas. “The dogs saw a big, wide road and thought, ‘I’ll go left.’ I slammed on the brakes pretty fierce and went right over the bike.
“They’re the two dogs I ran the whole season with this year.”
However, in the one-mile sled dog event, Lucas finished fifth, racing with a less-experienced dog, Ark, who didn’t like the idea of running in front of a bicycle.
“She started off really well and then she (looked back and) went, ‘It’s a bike!’” said Lucas. “She wouldn’t run in front any more.”
Darryl Sheepway and his dog Grizzly won the one-mile sled dog race.
The event was the first Twister race hosted in partnership with DPSAY (Dog Powered Sport Association of the Yukon).
“DPSAY is four years old now and it was organized to promote dog-powered sports in the Yukon,” said Gene Ennis, race marshal and DPSAY president Gene Ennis. “DPSAY doesn’t organize races, we facilitate people organizing races.
“(We are trying) to keep the sport going and get people out running their dogs.”
Already thinking towards next winter, DPSAY is hoping to help organizing a 200-mile dog-mushing race when the snow returns.
“It’s still in the planning phases, so we don’t have a lot of details right now,” said Ennis.
1st Jonathan Lucas – 7:38
2nd Megan Ennis – 10:33
3rd Heather Desmarais – 10:44
4th Alica Power – 12:36
5th Julia Vees – 13:13
6th Dave Mesmarais – 19:20
7th Heather Gordon – 20:29
One-mile sled dog
1st Darryl Sheepway – 7:14
2nd Dave Desmarais – 9:43
3rd Janet Keller – 10:13
4th Heather Desmarais – 11:29
5th Jonathan Lucas – 13:47
Two-mile sled dog
1st Jonathan Lucas – 10:13
2nd Darryl Sheepway – 10:24
3rd Fabian Schmitz – 11:19
4th Gaetan Rerrard – 12:08
5th Janet Keller – 13:46
6th Claudia Wickert – 13:56
7th Jocelyne LeBlanc – 16:41
8th Alexandra Rochat – 19:43
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