LINCOLN — Mushers and their dogs have descended on Lincoln for the annual Race to the Sky sled dog race. On Friday the teams underwent their final check before the race gets underway on Saturday.
The races begin on February 12th and the event will continue through Tuesday the 15th. Racers can participate in a variety of race types including the 300-mile race which is actually a qualifier for the Iditarod.
Cindy Gallea, from Minnesota, has been mushing dogs for over 30 years. Her love of the sport, dogs, and community was evident as we spoke. As she enters her 70’s she’s decided that this weekend’s 300-mile race will be her last.
“Like I said it's, I mean, the people are great, it's so gorgeous, trails are really nice and it's usually not bitterly cold, but it's going to be a little bitterly warm, maybe, but yeah. So, it's a nice way to let go,” says Gallea.
This year’s race is also significant as it’s the first Race to the Sky event to take place without co-founder, Dave Armstrong. Armstrong passed away in April of last year after reaching the age of 100. Pam Beckstrom, Race to the Sky Vice President, will be reading a tribute to Armstrong at the start of the race. After last year’s race canceled due to COVID, mushers, dogs and the public alike are excited to be back on the snow.
“We have gotten so much support from Lincoln, Seeley Lake, and Helena, and Missoula. I mean it's just been overwhelming. I've had so many calls from people that can't wait to come. So, it means a lot to this community, the mushing community, and also to the community,” says Beckstrom.
The public is encouraged to bundle up and come out to support the racers and dogs. If you can’t make it out to the race, Pam tells me they keep track of the racers’ locations and update it on their website.
The races here were originally put together in 1986 as the Montana’s Governor’s Cup Sled Dog Race in 1986 and commemorates the Camp Rimini War Dog Reception and Training Center.