Ur­ban Mush­ers

Dry­land Sled Dog Derby

Shoreline Beacon - - Front Page - Frances Lear­ment Ed­i­tor

Barks, yips and howls filled the air as dry­land dog rac­ers - ur­ban mush­ers with bi­cy­cles, rigs, scoot­ers and some teth­ered to dogs - com­peted nov. 4-5 in the sec­ond an­nual Sled dog Sports as­so­ci­a­tion of South­west­ern on­tario’s north amer­i­can dry­land derby at macgre­gor Point Pro­vin­cial Park.

or­ga­nized by lisa de gen­naro, 35, a Port El­gin na­tive who now lives near Pais­ley and op­er­ates glacial lake Ken­nel, the 69 class event - triple last year - of­fered some­thing for ev­ery­one.

“We had first-time rookie rac­ers who had lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence and were look­ing for men­tors to see if they like the sport, right through to team canada mem­bers,” de gen­naro said af­ter the wrap-up ban­quet and awards cer­e­mony at the Queen’s in Port El­gin. de gen­naro, com­pet­ing for team canada is a multi-medal win­ner at in­ter­na­tional sled dog com­pe­ti­tions, along with Karen Koehler who won four events at the derby.

three week­end events, Bike­jor­ing - dog and bike, scooter and cani­cross hu­man teth­ered to dog were sanc­tioned by the in­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Sled dog Sports and win­ners at macgre­gor col­lected points in a sea­son cham­pi­onship cam­paign. the other events in­cluded four-dog rigs, one and two-dog scoot­ers and two-dog Kid and mutt and ranged from 100 yards for kids to four miles for sev­eral classes.

For de gen­naro, it was a day of fast rac­ing, fun, “lots of good ques­tions from spec­ta­tors”, but also a lit­tle frus­trat­ing as a friend, lori leaney, who set a per­sonal best time rac­ing four of de gen­naro’s dogs and beat her in sev­eral heats to take sec­ond place over de gen­naro’s third place fin­ish which was also her per­sonal best.

“i would like to see more spec­ta­tors - this is high-cal­i­bre rac­ing and it’s ex­cit­ing for peo­ple to meet the com-pe­ti­tor­suters and their dogs and learn more about the sport,” she said, pleased that the pub­lic had so many good ques­tions about the sports and car­ing for the dogs. She said 32 com­peti­tors shared a $3,000 purse. and there were tro­phies for the win­ners and medals for sec­ond and third podium plac­ers.

de gen­naro cur­rently has 19 reg­is­tered pure­bred Siberian huskies at her ken­nel with 11 pup­pies in two re­cent lit­ters. She will be­gin har­ness train­ing the pups this spring to see if they want to be sled dogs.

“any dog that would be to­tally happy on a couch and not rac­ing, i will find it a good home,” de gen­naro said. When not com­pet­ing, de gen­naro is a cost and sched­ul­ing tech­ni­cian at Bruce Power.

one com­peti­tor, Port El­gin’s Bill Forsyth and This­tle, a nine-year-old husky/ Wolf mix, ran dead last in the one-dog scooter heats nov. 4 and 5, but this­tle boasted a red rib­bon af­ter the rac­ing as Forsyth noted she raced, pulling Forsyth on a Pawtreker, against dogs one-third her age.

Forsyth has a team of sled dogs and uses the scooter for dry­land train­ing.

one of the fastest rac­ers of the day - world com­peti­tor Karen Koehler, earned first place fin­ishes in four events in­clud­ing one and two-dog bikes and scoot­ers.

the macgre­gor derby ended the dry­land rac­ing sea­son for most com­peti­tors who will re­sume rac­ing in Fe­bru­ary.

Frances Lear­ment/ShorE­linE BEa­con Ur­ban musher Lisa De Gen­naro with dogs and at the award ban­quet Nov.4

Novice com­peti­tor Diane Eller and Glissy had a six­th­place fin­ish in the Cani­cross Nov.5 at the dry­land sled dog derby at MacGre­gor Point Pro­vin­cial Park.

Although she placed last in two scooter heats at the sled dog com­pe­ti­tion at MacGre­gor Point Park Nov. 4-5, This­tle, a nine-yearold Husky/Wolf mix, got a rib­bon from proud owner Bill Forsyth of Port El­gin af­ter the races against much younger dogs

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