The Caledonia Classic Sled Races celebrated their silver jubilee event this year, so the Courier reached out to the organizer to know how it felt to organize the event this year.
“It is incredibly satisfying to see the community, dog mushers and volunteers keep the races going for 25 years. The popularity of the race in the mushing community has caused the race to expand and become the biggest in the province and one of the biggest in Western Canada,” said Craig Houghton, organizer of the event.
This year, Houghton said they added a 100 mile continuous race which ended up being extremely popular. Registration for this race filled up in a few days, he said.
There were a total of 50 participants this year.
In terms of the event evolving over the past 25 years, Houghton said the event has gone from being a 200 mile race to sprint races, and then last year there was an addition of the popular skijoring event, followed by the 100 mile 7 dog race this year.
“Our number of participants has increased over the years because we have a small army of volunteers from this community and we partner with the UNBC outdoor recreation management program. We also have an essential partnership with the Fort St. James snowmobile club. It is this group of people that make the event professional causing people to return each year.”
Houghton himself is a musher and has a passion for sled dogs and belief in the Fort St. James community, which makes him organize the event year-after-year.
“I know what mushers want and need to get the best performance out of their dogs. Mushers travel many thousands of kms to race and need good trails, fair rules and a purse. We have all of this at the Caledonia Classic.”
Running dogs is an ‘essential’ part of Houghton’s life including his family.
“My father and I ran dogs together up until a few years ago; my son and I have spent countless hours together running dogs, feeding dogs, talking about dogs, thinking about dogs, etc. My mother and sister work hard to make the race happen too,” Houghton added.
In terms of future plans, in March both Houghton and his son are racing the Percy De Wolfe 100 mile race in Dawson City Yukon and the Underdog 100 mile race in Yellowknife.
200 mile distance race – Final times
1st – Conner McMahon – 34h 0m 21s
2nd – Aaron Peck – 35h 9m 40s
3rd – Jerry Joinson – 36h 44m 18s
6 mile sprint – Final times
1st – Rob Peebles – 43:44.62
2nd – Hans Appleman – 44:44.88
3rd – Ann Douglas – 49:46.64
100 mile distance race – Final times
1st – Marcel Marin – 19h 54m 00s
2nd – Eric Marsden – 20h 06m 19s
3rd – Sean Houghton – 20h 46m 41s
6 mile pure bred – Final times
1st – Shellie O’Brien – 77:25.23
2nd – Nicole Swan – 79:39.80
4 mile sprint final – Final times
1st – Rob Peebles – 30:04.70
2nd – Cory Hommy – 33:57.72
3rd – Dean Hommy – 35:43.20
Skijor – Final times
1st – Hans Appleman – 38:56.62
2nd- Sonja Maas – 41:14.54
3rd – Maaycke Verbruggen – 43:27.54
4 mile pure bred sprint – Final times
1st – Ronny Roenke – 34:35.48
2nd – Hans Appleman – 42:28.32
3rd – Sally Swan – 57:37.19
Junior mushers – Final times
Konrad Hommy – 4:35.28
Juri Roehnke – 4:49.92