Danny Beck is pleased with the second running of the Aurora Ford Classic Dog Races.
Beck – the president of the Hay River Dog Mushing Club – said the Feb. 8 and 9 event went very well.
Like last year, 13 teams of 12 dogs each showed up to race along the side of Highway 2 from Hay River to Enterprise on the first day and from Enterprise to Hay River on the second day.
“That number is OK,” said Beck. “We weren’t supposed to get a lot more. We would have if we had gone in January. But there are a few other races during this time.”
The Aurora Ford Classic is not held in January because it could be colder in that month.
“We don’t run at 45 below,” said Beck, who explained that the dogs come first. “If it’s too cold for dogs, we won’t run ’em.”
This year’s race was won by Erick LaForce of Quebec, followed by Don Cousins of Alberta in second and Yellowknife’s Richard Beck in third.
Danny Beck noted that there were no teams from Quebec at last year’s race, but he has spread the word about the event.
“I’m all over the place,” he said. “I’m always talking to mushers at all times. Basically, I race everywhere.”
Other teams were expected to come from B.C. and Oregon, but they ended up going somewhere else.
Beck believes the Aurora Ford Classic is “absolutely” on the way to becoming one of the premier races in the region.
“We have a lot of really good support from the local businesses,” he said. “I’m very, very happy and very impressed with the local businesses on the support we get from them.”
This year’s prize pool totalled $20,000 with $10,000 of that coming from Aurora Ford. Last year, the prizes totalled $15,100.
The first-place finisher received $3,000, while second place earned $2,500 and third $2,200. In all, ten of the teams received a cash prize.
Beck himself finished in 13th place.
“I was right at the back end,” he said.
“I had a lot of trouble the first day,” he explained. “I had a tangle I never had in my life out of that many years of dog racing. I had a knot from the front to the back.”
That happened when the lead dogs tripped in the snow and the others just piled up on them.
“They were going pretty fast at the time it happened and before you knew it was too late,” said Beck. “They were all in the pile.”
That cost him up to eight minutes in untangling the team.
Beck noted that the trail was not as good as last year because the plan was to prepare the trail with a Sno-Cat, but the tracked vehicle wasn’t available.
So the trail, which is 23 miles one way, was dragged by snowmobiles.
The track condition had a lot of effect on the racing, Beck said. “It just didn’t have enough time to compact. It was kind of hard on top in spots, and then the dogs would trip.”