Mushers race this weekend

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Trails over snow-covered fields are being prepared for this weekend’s dog sled races off Routes 2 and 27.

Mushers and dogs will race on Bussie York’s fields Saturday and Sunday when members of the Downeast Sled Dog Club meet and compete from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Organizers Joy and Mark Turner of Wilton expect approximately 45 teams, including close to 300 dogs, to participate. Teams of four and six dogs will run 4½ and 6½ miles respectively on Saturday, then turn around and run it again on Sunday, she said.

A dog can only run in one race a day.

Other categories, including two-dog teams and four- and six-dog sports teams, will also participate.

Although they can only do one race, the dogs can participate in a 50-foot fun race that gives kids a short ride, she said.

Some mushers allow people to pet their friendliest dogs but they also expect to be asked first, she said. The dogs can be pretty excited while waiting to race, she added. They expend a lot of energy jumping and waiting to go when they see the other dogs starting out.

The trails, located south and across from York’s Farm, can mostly be seen from the road, Mark Turner said. The trail creates a loop up past the Farmington Motel along the river and back. A 10-mile and unlimited race is also planned, he said.

The races will draw competitors from New England and Prince Edward Island, Mark Turner said. Mushers race for a money purse collected from area sponsors. Race times for both days are added together to determine winners.

While good weather is predicted for the weekend, a storm on Friday could cause some last-minute work to get the trails ready. A local snowmobile club has agreed to help, Joy Turner said.

“But at least it won’t be like past years when there was no snow and the races were postponed or another year when it was so cold and windy, even the dogs didn’t want to be out,” she said.

Mark Turner and his son Jamison both race, so the couple’s kennel houses 26 dogs, Joy Turner said.

This is the fifth race the couple has organized in the area.

People are welcome to view the races. There will be parking spaces and food available. There is no charge, but donations will be accepted to help with expenses, she said.

Source: SunJournal

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