Eagle Lake Sled Dog races to return
EAGLE LAKE, Maine — Sled dog season in the St. John Valley will kick off with the Eagle Lake Sled Dog races during the weekend of Jan. 18-20. The event consists of the Woodlands Eagle Lake 100 Race and the Mad Bomber 30 Mile Sled Dog Race.
Odette Dionne, mother of St. David musher Amy Dionne, organized the event along with her daughter, who plans to compete in the 100 mile race.
“I enjoy the sport and it is one of the only sports where females and males are at the same level. It is also a sport where there is no age class group,” said Odette Dionne, whose daughter Holly Dionne also mushes. “I think that keeping the sport active in the area is important for my girls, but also for the economy, the community and for everyone. Winters are long and if people are given the opportunity to get outside in the fresh air and sun along with moving — exercise by walking to the start line — it is a winning opportunity.”
So far 11 mushers have registered for the 100 mile race, and only two mushers have registered for the 30 mile race. Odette Dionne said she is hoping to see those numbers grow in the days leading up to the races.
Amy Dionne, who helped resurrect the Eagle Lake Sled Dog Races last year after a hiatus, said the event is good for mushers to gain insight on where their dogs stand in terms of preparation for racing season.
“We decided to do the Eagle Lake race this year because it’s a great starter race for the mushing season on the East Coast. Our race is two months earlier then Can Am so mushers like to use this race as a good training race or to see where their dogs are at,” she said.
Odette Dionne pointed out that the St. John Valley is among the few areas that have enough snow to hold such an event in January.
“We are fortunate to be one of the only places in New England to have snow this early” making it one of the few places that can hold a race, she said.
Odette Dionne asks that spectators not bring their pet dogs to the event so as not to distract the sled dogs. She also asks that snowmobilers use caution over the weekend as mushers and their dogs will be out on the trails.
The races will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday Jan. 19. Mushers leave the field that is behind the housing project or on the side of Convent Road near Norstate FCU in Eagle Lake and head for the Moose Point Camps on Fish River Lake, where they turn around and come back.
The finish line for both races in at the Recreation Department skating rink. Racers in the 30-miler usually begin arriving around 1 p.m., while mushers in the 100 mile race start crossing the finish line around midnight.
There will be a tent with concessions for sale before the race.
More information and forms to register for the Eagle Lake Sled Dog Races are available online at www.eaglelakedogsledraces.com.