Dog Sled Races Return to Two-Miles-High
It’ll be another doubleheader in February for dog sled race lovers as the Colorado Mountain Mushers (CMM) retrieves its popular Mt. Massive Mush I & II. On the first and third weekends in February, these fast-paced, team take-ons will be returning to Lake County for some crowd-pleasing, canine competition that leaves everyone howling for more. Spectators, dog-lovers and competitors are invited to join the fun on Feb 1 & 2 and Feb. 22 & 23, as CMM transforms America’s highest golf course and the adjacent US Forest Service property into a series of courses that loop and wind through spruce-lined trails that sit in the shadow of Colorado’s two tallest peaks, Mts Elbert and Massive.
Started in 2016, the Mt. Massive Mush expanded quickly to include two weekends of racing. And in its fourth year expects to host some 30 sleddog teams at each event. Classes offered this year:
- 6 Mile Race
- 6 Dog Sled
- 2-3 Dog Skijor
- 4 Mile Race
- 4 Dog Sled
- 1 Dog Skijor
- 2-3 Dog Fatbikejor
- 1 Mile Race
- 4 Dog max Sportsman Sled – Adult
- 3 Dog max Sportsman Sled – Child (12 and under)
- 1 dog Cani-Cross
Colorado Mountain Mushers has been involved with dog races since 1989, educating people about sled dogs. The club is an offshoot from the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club and looks to specifically highlight the family aspect of the sport. Every spring CMM holds an annual banquet, then during the summer they do a picnic for everyone to get together and socialize, and in early fall CMM hosts a group camp out at Camp Hale just north of Leadville. The club is very proactive in community outreach ranging from classroom visits at schools to canine community dog fairs.
The club also provides a public voice in relevant legislation that impacts dog sledding in Colorado. They partner with Mush With PRIDE, a coalition that fosters ethical treatment and raising of sled dogs. As they continue to grow they encourage more involvement from communities like Leadville and individuals with similar interests.
If you are interested in competing or volunteering for these races, please connect with the Colorado Mountain Mushers on their official Facebook page.
Leadville Sled Team Represents in Wyoming
While the mushers competition plays out on the local course this weekend, Leadville’s most notable dog sledder is racing further north, representing America’s Highest City in the 25th Annual Pedigree Stage Stop Race, which got underway yesterday, January 31 with the show circuit.
Meet Tim Thiessen a Denver native who now hangs his dog harness in Leadville with the 17 dogs he trains for sled racing. And if you think the added snow months and high-altitude training give him and his team an added advantage – it does! This is the Leadville team’s second time in the 250-mile Stage Stop, finishing 20th last year. But it’s not the winning that brings the Colorado musher and his canines to the event.
“It’s an opportunity to run our dogs with some of the best teams in the world. Racing in the stage goes beyond the actual events- the vet care we have access to is the best we could dream of. The interactions with the communities along the drive are priceless. It’s impressive to see the number of people who come out to see the teams. The volunteers that spend their time to follow the brigade are all amazing and make the race the world-class event that it is,” he said to Sebastian Schnuelle of Wyomingstagestop.org.
“It’s a top-notch education for a week with people who all share this unique interest. The race is a great representation of the positives of mushing. It truly highlights the love that everyone has for their dogs.”
Beginning in Jackson, Wyoming, this premier stage format sled dog race is hosted by the area’s local communities. Teams race on public lands of the Bridger-Teton, Shoshone, and Caribou-Targhee National Forests, competing for $165,000 in prize money and the elusive title of “Stage Stop Champion,” according to Wyomingstagestop.org. Stages begin in Jackson Hole, Alpine, Pinedale, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Lander, Driggs (Idaho), and Teton County. In all, 18 teams are set to take on the course this year, with competitors hailing from across the U.S. and Canada. You can follow along as the race progresses at Wyomingstagestop.org or the race’s Facebook page. Good luck, Team Tim!