Dinner Plain challenge attracts 80 mushers
FROM humble beginnings more than two decades ago the Dinner Plain Sled Dog Challenge is now an institution.
More than 80 mushers and in excess of 350 sled dogs are expected to compete in this year’s races – some crossing the Tasman in what is now an international event.
It is a long way from the 14 teams that raced in that first event way back in 1994.
Sue Simmons and Robert Stevens have been instrumental in the sports development in Australia, instigating and organising the Dinner Plain Sled Dog Challenge 23 years ago.
“It’s tremendous to see how the sport’s profile has increased here in Australia,” Simmons said.
“In 1994 there were only 14 competitors on snow. With the addition of the Touring Class event, larger teams of six dogs and now the permanent inclusion of a thrilling eight-dog class there is a lot more challenge and excitement generating an ever increasing number of participants.
“Last year was fairly stable with 83 individual sled dog teams however this year we have experienced a much greater interest and therefore expect numbers to be up on previous years.”
The weekend’s main racing activities will feature classes for two, three, four, six and eight-dog teams.
Teams will race through the snow gum lined ski trails of Dinner Plain with the first teams scheduled to leave the village at 9am each day.
Stevens said the skill level and ability of participating mushers has increased dramatically resulting in longer race distances over recent years.
“This year, in keeping with the heightened skill of Mushers, racing will feature trail routes spanning some 10 - 12km for the four, six and eight-dog teams and a distance of 5-6km over which the two and three-dog teams will compete,” he said.
“Races will be held in heats, with competitors winning on combined time scores across the two days.”
This year’s races will be on the weekend of August 13 and 14.