Bayfield, Wis. – Mushers at the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, Feb. 7 and 8, can expect excellent racing conditions this year as mild temperatures and lake effect snowfall have created a solid base for the trail.
“The trail is in great shape this year. We’ve been running it since the first major snowfall in early November,” said Jen Dale, kennel manager and guide for John and Mary Thiel at Wolfsong Adventures, which offer dog sledding tours. “We have a great hard base that can hold a snowhook.”
Along with Chris Dale and Katelyn Rennicke, who also work for Wolfsong Adventures as dog sledding guides, Jen has been out every week getting the trail ready for the race.
“The warmer weather and rain earlier in the season barely affected the condition of the trail. Much of the race trail runs in higher elevations which receive more lake effect snow, so we can always count on that. It really adds up,” she said.
Musher Matt Sturmer, of Bruce Crossing, Mich., who took second place in the 10-dog race last year recently ran the trail as well and said, “The trail was the best I have seen it.”
Last year, the Bayfield peninsula saw more snow than usual, which made grooming the trail more difficult. This year, the trail team has been able to focus on the quality of the conditions, “Unlike last year where it felt like it snowed every day and we had to focus all of our efforts on packing the trail, we’ve been able to devote more time to widening some of the more narrow sections,” noted Dale, “This should make passing easier.”
The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, now in its 20th year, is widely known as a fun yet challenging sled dog race with varied terrain across the Bayfield Peninsula. The event consists of an 80-mile 10-dog race, a 60-mile 6-dog race, a 40-mile Sportsmens’ race and a Family/Youth recreation race. It takes place over the course of two days and regularly draws mushers and spectators from across the midwest and Canada. The starting line is located 15 miles north of downtown Bayfield, Wis. at the Echo Valley Gravel Pit, with several related events taking place over the course of the weekend in town. The entire event is free and open to the public, with an additional spectator site located along the course.
Registrations for the race are still being accepted and the bib draw will take place on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 3. For more information, contact the Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau at 715-779-3335 or visit bayfield.org/aisdr.