By Jonas Gagnon
The last weekend of February offered mixed weather for the Caledonia Classic, but despite the snow flurry on Friday the race went off well.
“The event was fantastic,” said Craig Houghton, one of the event organisers, and a musher in the distance events.
The weather offer both a challenge and great pleasure over the course of the weekend.
“Friday was a white out on the lake,” said Houghton. “But Sunday was basically perfect conditions.”
People of all ages, from eight to in their fifties, came to race. And they came from all over north-western Canada to what Houghton refers to as one of the premier dog races in the province.”
With mushers from all over the province and volunteers from all over the world, courtesy of UNBC’s eco-tourism program, the event drew a global crowd.
But it was the local volunteers that made it happen.
“Our community support was excellent,” said Houghton.
Dog races, because of the distance, can be difficult for spectators, but Joanne Vinnedge kept the spectators up on what was happening with the help of some good binoculars and a good microphone.
“As dog races go, it’s one of the most spectator friendly,” said Houghton.
And while mushers were out competing for a place, the politicians were there competing for smiles.
Mackenzie Mayor Stephanie Killam, MLA John Rustad, Nak’azdli Band Manager Reuben Blackwater, Emily Colombo Economic Development Officer for Fort St. James and Regional District Councillor Tom Greenaway all showed up for the politicians race, with Tom Greenaway taking the title as the fastest politician of the weekend
It was Colombo’s first time ever on a dog sled. It was an experience that she will remember for a long time.
‘When someone gives you the opportunity to drive a dogsled in Fort St James, you don’t say ‘no’. Being out on the lake with those dogs was such a rush. A true Northern experience. I was proud to be Rob MacDouglall’s stand in, and to have the opportunity to race against such a fun and honourable bunch while representing the District. A heart-felt thank-you has to be given to the volunteers and sledders who make this great event happen.’
4 Dog Sprint
6 dog Sprint
10 dog sprint
Full results can be found on the Caledonia Classic website at www.caledoniaclassic.fsjames.com