The Cariboo Challenge Jack Gawthorn sled Dog Race has been cancelled for the second year in a row because of a lack of mushers.
One of the reasons for this according to organizer Ulli Vogler was no prize money was collected from
“The prize money always came from the community; donations, with auctions items and everything. For this year we don’t want to ask for community support [and] give everyone a break after the summer. Everyone has had enough financial hardship,” she said. “Next year we will give it a good try and see if we can get it going again.”
Vogler said she truly hopes the dogs’ paws can hit the snow again next year and that the non-profit society has a few meetings lined up and are putting their heads together to come up with new ideas to entice mushers to come and compete.
The number of mushers are declining due to the expenses of keeping a dog team said Vogler, whose husband is a musher who is transitioning into the sled dog tourism industry. Her husband is not alone, with opting to give tours becoming more lucrative than
“It’s really expensive to leave our community and travel to races. Sometimes you travel up to 10 to 12 hours to go to a race,” Vogler said. “It gets way too costly and time-consuming and not everybody has the opportunity to just take off for four or five days just to attend a race. It has a huge impact.”
Most of the mushers who competed in the race are from outside of the community with almost none of them being locals. Vogler recalled that there used to be around 12 from 100 Mile House 30 years ago but now almost every local has given up their dogs and the next generation hasn’t stepped up due to the financial and time-consuming impacts of owning several dogs.
Another issue facing the society is its lack of volunteers. They used to have 20 volunteers to help out during the races but now only have seven or eight.
Traditionally, the race brings in 400-600 spectators.
“I think it [the cancellation] takes away from the community. I know our community always enjoyed watching the race,” said Vogler.