Din­ner Plain chal­lenge at­tracts 80 mush­ers

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE - By BRAD WORRALL

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.

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