Dryland Sled Dog Derby
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