North Idaho mushers compete in Idaho Sled Dog Challenge

CASCADE, Idaho– The Idaho Sled Dog Challenge returns to the West Central Mountains on Jan. 30 as part of the McCall Winter Carnival.

World-class mushers will compete in the fourth annual sled race in Cascade. The Idaho Sled Dog Challenge is considered one of the most grueling mushing competitions in the world because of its topography.

One of the principal volunteers and spokespersons, Dave Looney, says this sledding challenge is on par with the Iditarod.

“Our elevation change is 36,000 feet, which is greater than the Iditarod. They call it a 500-mile race packed into 300 miles. So the dog care and the pacing and the attention they have to pay to the terrain is really important, because there’s a lot of up and down,” said Looney.

While the Iditarod goes for more than 900 miles, the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge offers 300-mile qualifiers for the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod, along with 100-mile races. Organizers will not be holding a junior race this year.

This year the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge has attracted teams from seven states, with six Idahoans on the roster along with one Washingtonian. Jed Stephensen from Sandpoint and Jacob McCowan from Priest River both registered for the 300-mile race. Scott White from Snohomish completed the 2010 Iditarod and hopes to compete in it again after completing this year’s Idaho Sled Dog Challenge.

Race organizers are seeking volunteers to staff checkpoints and help handle dogs, so visit idahosleddogchallenge.com if you’re interested.