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Sled dogs unite on Copper Haul for training and fun

If you’re going to organize a race, and compete in it as well, practice and preparation are essential.

If you’re going to organize a race, and compete in it as well, practice and preparation are essential. You don’t want to fall on your face right out of the shute.

That’s what Jonathan Lucas thought about his upcoming race series, the Yukon Brewing Copper Haul Twister.

Lucas used last week’s meager snowfall as an excuse to run a sled with a four-dog team over the course he set up around the Copper Haul Road.

It was a gravelly experience.

“I was out on Sunday, on my sled, which some people may have classed as stupid,” said Lucas with a laugh. “The conclusion was — there’s not enough snow to do it safely.

“In my own defence, there were at least two other teams out there on sleds.”

Lack of snow has put the kibosh on many Whitehorse races in recent memory, including last years’ Rendezvous Dash for Cash and the finish of the Yukon Quest, which was rerouted back to Dawson City.

“I remember the disappointment last year with Rendezvous, two days before the race it was cancelled, and then we got a foot of snow,” said Lucas.

It’s certainly been cold enough lately, and the first of the six monthly races is set to run November 18th.

If there isn’t enough snow by then, Lucas said the race would be pushed forward two weeks, to December 2nd.

If all goes according to plan, and the weather co-operates — the league will serve as a hub for local dog sports enthusiasts.

It’s been some time since the Whitehorse mushing community has had any kind of regular meets, outside of Mount Lorne’s annual Carbon Hill Race and Haines Junction’s Silver Sled.

Lucas is hoping the Twister will bring the scene together.

“We’re getting some interest going; I think it’s slowly building up — people want to see how the first one goes,” he said. “I imagine it will be quite chaotic,”

Each of the six monthly races will have three divisions:

l five-kilometre kids’ race, with two to four dogs on a sled, or one or two dogs on skis;

l five-kilometre pet dog race — single, non-husky dogs can pull whatever they please, as long as it’s attached to the racer. “A lot of people were really pleased with the pet dog idea,” said Lucas. “I started off skijoring with rottweilers, which was great — but you know you’re going to come last,” he said, adding that he didn’t want non-husky owners to be shut-out of the race.

l The Copper Haul Twister — the main event — is a 19-kilometre race, featuring sleds with two to four dogs, or skis with one to three dogs.

It’s a grassroots event, and Lucas stressed it’s more about training and fun than competitiveness, “it’s about getting people out and mixing.”

Having said that, there are cash prizes for the top finishers in each division — $50 for top spot at least (depending on the number of racers), also, each competitor will receive 22.5-kilograms of dog food fish.

Mushers and skijorers who compete in four of the six monthly races will be in the series points race, for the league trophy and additional prize money.

Interested, but lack a dog-team? Volunteers are still needed to help out with many tasks on race days.

Check out for more information. The website also has trail maps, schedules, race rules and prize details.