Situated on the border, Kershope Forest found itself hosting the second championship race of the Sled Dog Association of Scotland last weekend bringing competitors from far and wide. As like mostly anything remotely relating to Scotland, Kershope does see its fair share of rain on a regular basis but with the weather looking promising for the weekend (which is anything other than rain!) the SDAS team and competitors made their way through the sleepy North Cumbrian villages and into the forest.
Alas!! The weather was fabulous! Temperatures between 5 and -3 degrees meant a lovely ground frost over the whole weekend which covered the grassy trails and glistened in the sun, although it’s a given there were a few cold fingers and toes over both days from mushers and handlers alike. Proper mushing weather. The dogs instantly picked up on the cooler temps and from 5am onwards the forest was alive with the screams and songs of them all.
Racing commenced on the Saturday morning at 9am sharp with the 8 dog registered teams heading out up the grassy hill and deep into the forest trails. They were followed shortly by the 6 dog registered teams who all managed to leave the start chute without a hitch expect that is for Jeff Trotter, who slid into the start chute, hard on the brakes with his dogs having only one intention of not being stopped for snubbing and had to be caught in quite a spectacular fashion by fellow musher Keith Hutchon. Well done Keith, hopefully your prize box of sweets on Sunday made up for having to be untangled from a 6 dog team on the start line and without your help Jeff Trotter wouldn’t have gone on to win the 6 dog Registered Class by over 10secs against some tough competition including that of fellow musher Matthew Clarke who came second to Jeff but also picked up a first place in the 8 dog registered class.
James Leonard was undoubtedly the star of the weekend in Bikejor by completing the 3 mile course with his dog Rosie in an unbelievable 8mins 55secs. How he managed to cycle so fast on those grassy hills was amazing.
Sunday morning kicked off at 8.30am which is half an hour earlier than the Saturday to allow time at the end of the race day to set up prize giving, clear down the trail and race site and give the timer a chance to print of the end results. This Sunday the early start was particularly required as it allowed time for the racing to come to a standstill and all competitors to congregate at the start line at precisely 11am for a one minute silence to honour the fallen soldiers on Remembrance Sunday.
Prize giving on the Sunday afternoon was a joyful time with mushers celebrating their dogs wins and their fellow competitors wins. Competition is good and keeps everyone thriving with their end goals, but to be surrounded by a group of people who are happy to congratulate their opponents on a win always resonates the reason why this is the sport that we love. As mentioned above, a few on the spot prizes were given out via the Committee to Keith for his heroic 6 dog save and to Matthew and Adele Clarkes girls Darcy and Thea, for helping their mum and dad alongside Gary Patterson, Jeff Trotter and Keith Hutchon for setting up and organising such a lovely venue. Thank you so much to you all, it really was a fabulous weekend.
1st, 2nd and 3rd places were awarded with a 2kilo bag of CSJ CP30 and all other competitors were awarded with a bag of CSJ treats, getting to choose from either Fish and Hips or Fish Cuits
A massive thank you to CSJ for their continued Sponsorship of SDAS events, it’s fabulous to have support from a good working dog food that the majority of sled dog people use.
No sooner is one race over and the preparation for the next begins as we look forward to Darnaway Forest on 9 & 10 December.