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Caledonia Classic Dog Sled Races returns

Hundreds of mushers
The Caledonia Classic Dog Sled Races will run in Fort St. James Feb 4-6. (Aman Parhar/Caledonia Courier)

Fort St. James will be welcoming mushers from across Canada and the U.S. as the 26th annual Caledonia Classic Dog Sled Races returns Feb 4-6.

Race marshall and president of the Fort St. James Sled Dog Association, Craig Houghton guessed there will be at least 40 mushers of all ages taking part.

“We missed it last year because of COVID, and we’re able to do it this year,” he said.

“It’s the only race of its kind in the province.”

Spectators are invited to watch the races starting Friday morning with the 200-Mile and 100-Mile.

Houghton said the best time to watch is early Saturday morning at Cottonwood Beach.

“You can watch all the sprint teams come and go, and you get the opportunity to talk to the mushers if you like,” he said, noting they will be encouraging social distancing at the outdoor event.

Photos: 25th Annual Caledonia Classic Dog Sled Races

Local student mushers will be looking after Houghton’s dogs in the sprint races.

Houghton, an avid dog sledder himself, has been involved with the races since their beginning.

“What I enjoy is a spirit of community — it’s the town coming together to help us put this on,” he said, describing his love of seeing dozens of dog teams on the ice of Stuart Lake.

“When you’re out there, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been mushing for 20 years or this is your first season — you’re just a person with dogs and that’s your passion.”

Fundraising takes place throughout the year, and Houghton said they are fortunate to have the support of many local businesses and corporate sponsors.

A consistent group of volunteers over the past couple of decades and new people stepping up each year also help ensure the races go smoothly.

“We couldn’t do this without the Fort St. James Snowmobile Club,” Houghton added.

“They’ve been helping for 26 years and put in 200 miles of trails, so we couldn’t move without them.”

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