First Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race Kicks Off This Weekend

By KBJR News 1

January 4, 2013 Updated Jan 4, 2013 at 11:48 PM CDT

Grand Portage, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Dogs and mushers are getting ready for the first Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race this weekend.

All of the preparations have been made, but organizers are just waiting on one thing.

"Right now we are just waiting for the mushers to start showing up, " said Race Director, Beth Drost.

The First Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race is set to kick off this weekend, with dogs and mushers arriving on Saturday.

The race is a stage–style race that showcases area communities and events.

"Saturday starts the events and we have the vet check from 8am to 4pm and then that night is our first banquet and we are calling it a "pot–latch" banquet where we will have a gift exchange and community pot luck and the public is invited to meet the mushers," said Drost.

The race starts in Grand Portage at Mineral Center with stops each night in surrounding communities to complete the 150 mile race.

The Wallins have been sled dog racing for 19 years, and have been busy training for the race since the fall.

"There is always an adjustment from the fall training when you are usually on a four wheeler... Once you get on the sled it takes a while to get your sled legs," said Ward Wallin, a musher.

Training sled dogs is a lot of work for the trainer but also for the dogs.

"We start training in the fall usually the first of September, we have the dogs pull a four wheeler, we have it in gear and usually running 12 dogs at a time, start running 3–4 miles at a time gradually increasing their mileage," said Wallin.

The Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race is a non–profit organization with a mission to further the understanding of Cook County's sled dog history.

The race is a 12 dog sled race.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.