COLEBROOK AND PITTSBURG — The Great North Woods Sled Dog Challenge will take place from Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 10.
This is a stage race, a unique race format involving a series of shorter races hosted by a different community each day. Teams and mushers rest overnight between stages in the host towns. The cumulative times of each stage of the race are added together to determine the final winner of the entire competition.
This year, the race will include the North Country towns of Pittsburg and Colebrook.
The first and second stages will take place on Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9, when teams will depart from Ramblewood Campground & Cabins in Pittsburg.
After completing the courses, teams will finish both stages at Ramblewood Cabins so there will be multiple opportunities for spectators to view the race teams.
The third and final stage will be hosted by Coleman Estates in Coleman State Park in Colebrook on Sunday, March 10. Venues are open to spectators at 8 a.m. and the first racers leave the start line at 9 a.m. each morning.
Competitors will compete for a purse of at least $5,000 in three different classes: 10-dog team, six-dog team, and skijor.
Mushers will have a specified pool of dogs to draw upon to form their team each day. This incorporates an added layer of race strategy for mushers as they need to consider which dogs to rest, how many dogs to run each day and which dogs to include based on terrain and distance.
“Meet the Mushers Banquets” are open to the public, and meals will be available for purchase on both Friday and Saturday evenings. The Pittsburg Ridge Runners will host the banquet on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Pittsburg Ridge Runner Clubhouse at 17 Dickson Lane in Pittsburg.
The Colebrook Country Club & Hotel, 15 Abenaki Lane, Colebrook, will host the banquet on Saturday, at 5 p.m. and the final awards ceremony on Sunday, at about 3 p.m. The banquets are a great way for members of the community to learn more about the sport and to talk with mushers about their dogs and experiences. For more information and the schedule of events go to nhstagerace.com.