GRANTHAM – This Saturday, Grantham will belong to the dogs. Beginning at 9 a.m., the public is invited to congregate at Grantham Recreation Park, 113-135 Shedd Road, to watch the Blue Mountain Sled Dog Race.
The event is unique in its kind in the Upper Valley this winter.
“Dogs get ballistic before they run,” said Elizabeth Strobridge, the fundraising chair for the event. “They’re just incredibly excited.”
The event – in its second year – is co-hosted by Blue Mountain Snowdusters and North Country Mushers. There are 15 participating mushers and they average eight dogs each. Admission is free, but refreshments will be available for purchase.
An alternate vantage point is the end of Walker Road.
Be sure to wear appropriate clothing that will keep you warm for several hours outdoors.
“These are the trails I run on with my kids and my dogs,” said Strobridge, who has a team of six Alaskan huskies and dog mixes but doesn’t compete. “It’s a real joy to show them to other people.”
Most racing dogs are Alaskan or Siberian Huskies. Some competitors also have Eurohounds.
“It gets really loud,” Strobridge said. “We have as many dogs as humans.”
The event is for all ages, but spectators are asked to leave their dogs at home.
“We had tons of families last year,” Strobridge said. She added that spectators should “be careful with working dogs”.
Three different races will take place that day. There is a 30 mile race for those with eight dogs, an 18 mile race with six dogs.
New this year is an 18-mile skijoring course, “where you ski on cross-country skis behind two dogs,” Strobridge said.
Whichever team wins, it’s a unique opportunity for Upper Valley residents to see sled dog racing up close.
“That’s always been my favorite part: it’s all about the dogs,” Strobridge said. “They’re so excited and it’s really fun.”
For more information, visit snowdusters.org. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3221.