Canadian Challenge gets new site in La Ronge

Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan/Northern Advocate. An 8-dog team sets out on the trail from La Ronge.

The La Ronge setting for the Canadian Challenge Dog Sled Race changed from the usual Patterson Park to Reise Park, which gave them more open space for dogs on their mandatory rest, but without the tree coverage.

For those teams doing the Iditarod Qualifyer, they are required to stay outside at all times including their rest times.

Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 20, Musher’s and their partners, their dogs, hit the trail heading north to compete in the 2024 Canadian Challenge Dog Sled Race.

As the Challenge began for 2024, were: five Iditarod qualifiers, nine eight-dog, 11 eight-dog and three six-dog teams registered.

The Race began with Vet Checks with the 10-dog teams on Monday, Feb. 19 between noon and 5 p.m.; the 8-dog teams Wednesday, Feb. 21 between noon and 3 p.m. and the 6-dog teams on Thursday Feb. 22 between noon and 3 p.m. all in La Ronge.

Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan/Northern Advocate. Annalisa Heppner shared art with children in a Town of La Ronge event, “Aerosol Chalk Paint and Stencils to create dog themed images in the snow.” It held in conjunction with the Canadian Challenge at Reise Park on Thursday, Feb. 22.

The 10-dog teams started the trek on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at noon in Missinipe. The 8-Dog started in La Ronge on Thursday, Feb. 22 at noon. There was also an 8-Dog Re-Start on Friday, Feb. 23 at 10 a.m. in La Ronge in conjunction with the 6-Dog teams’ start. The 6-Dog race followed the 8-Dog Re-start and teams will generally start at 2-minute intervals.”

The 10-dog and Qualifier is a 328 km route between Missinipe, La Ronge, Fafards, La Ronge, Fafards, La Ronge and finish in Missinipe.

The 8-dog teams route covered 165 km beginning in La Ronge and travelling to Fafards, which is a turnaround, and back to La Ronge for overnight then leaving La Ronge (the Re-Start) and travelling to Missinipe.

The 6-dog teams begin in La Ronge and travel straight through to Missinipe.

At the end, Clayton Perry came in first in the 10-dog race, followed by Craig Houghton, Andy Heerschap, Anna Bolvin, Mary England, Jesse Terry Wade Donaldson, Mark Roberts, Garrick Schmidt and Leon Church.

In the 8-dog race, Jesika Reimer came in first, followed by: Ragnar Robinson, Max Berthou-Queau, Trace Drake, Dallin Donaldson, Ryan Clegg, Monroe Mondor, Jody Verge, Lane Lawton, Dan Kirkup and Ross Anthony. Shellie Torok did not finish.

In the 6-dog race, Marcel Marin came first, followed by Britta Hanks, Rhonda Heerschap and Janine Pollock.