The fourth annual Aurora Ford Classic Sled Dog Race drew 18 teams from across the NWT to Hay River over the Feb. 26 to 27 weekend.

Jerry Voyageur of Fort Smith, finished first against 10 other mushers in the six dog class (21:05:26) and Danny Beaulieu of Fort Providence won in the 12-dog class (1:19:16:89) against six other racers.

The six dog race had mushers leaving the starting point in the ditch across from the Super A to the junction to Fort Smith and back.

Danny Beaulieu of Fort Providence won the 12-dog class race at the fourth annual Aurora Ford Classic Sled Dog Race in Hay River over the Feb. 26 and 27 weekend. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Danny Beaulieu of Fort Providence won the 12-dog class race at the fourth annual Aurora Ford Classic Sled Dog Race in Hay River over the Feb. 26 and 27 weekend. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

The 12-dog class race is a 37-kilometre route to Enterprise but also involves a race back on Sunday. However, because of cold weather, the second half of that race did not take place this past weekend.

Danny Beck, one of the few Hay River mushers, had a seventh place finish in the 12-dog class race but said other than the Fort Providence race in January, he has had limited time to have his team out this year.

Danny Beck readies to hit the trail with his team of 10 dogs on Feb. 26. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“I had no mile from my dogs,” he said. “They got sick immediately after the Providence race and I only ran them twice since then. They went all the way to Enterprise, which is very impressive for me.”

Race marshal Sholto Douglas said organizers would have liked to have seen higher numbers attend but added that there were more than one reason why teams were unable to make it out this year, including other circuit taking place races and the price of gas being high for travel.

Public health limitations and southern competitors not being able to come were probably the major factor, however.

Alexis Campbell made it down from Yellowknife to attend the Aurora Ford Classic Sled Dog Race. Here she takes off toward Enterprise in the six-dog class competition, Feb. 26. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“We didn’t get the same numbers here because nothing’s opening up here until March 1,” he said.

“People don’t want to take a chance (to travel North) and find out that they can’t race here. So until things open up, for me, our health comes first in the north. I understand that.

“When we run these races, we make sure that we do that for the safety of our people.”

Douglas said he was very impressed with the trail conditions and said it should make for quality racing at the K’amba Carnival’s race next weekend.

“I have to take my hat off to the mushers and the people that made the trail,” he said. “It was an excellent trail here and it was one of the best I’ve ever seen over the years.”

Dexter Lafferty of Yellowknife charges from the starting line with his 10-dog team on Feb. 26. Lafferty placed second behind winner Danny Beaulieu in the category. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Anthony Beck, one of the main race organizers who prepared the trail, said he spent about 29 hours in a side-by-side borrowed from from Rowe’s Construction to ensure quality conditions.

The amount of snow the region saw this year made it especially challenging, he added.

“That was just to plow down the base,” Beck said, noting that Danny Perron spent hours on the snowmobile grooming with metal drags.

Jerry Voyageur of Fort Smith won in the six-dog class and Danny Beaulieu won in the 12-dog class during the Aurora Ford Classic Sled Dog Race in Hay River, Feb. 26-27. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“This year with the excess amount of snow, it seemed to be pretty hard to push the trail in. Previous years it was easier but this year it was pretty tough with so much to get down.”

Beck said that it is important that the trail has a soft enough base so that dogs are off the ground but aren’t punching through.

Peter Emile of Fort Smith gives an enthusiastic greeting before heading out in the six-dog race on Feb. 26. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

The groomed trail will allow for races to be held again for the 40th K’amba Carnival slated to take place this coming weekend, which makes it convenient for racers and spectators, Beck said.

“It shouldn’t be too hard to maintain for the next race,” Beck said. “Now that the base is there and frozen, it’s just a matter of keeping up the way it is.”

Mitch Jacobson was one of the few mushers from Tuktoyaktuk who participated in Saturday’s sled dog race. Simon Whtiehouse/NNSL photo

FACTFILE

12-dog race

1. Danny Beaulieu, Fort Providence – 1:19:16:89

2. Dexter Lafferty, Yellowknife – 1:19:48:50

3. Alexis Campbell, Yellowknife – 1:22:09:82

4. Trevor Lizotte, Yellowknife – 1:25:18:13

5. Roger Beck, Fort Resolution. 1:26:54:86

6. Danny Beck, Hay River, 1:29:15:14

7. Mitchell Jacobson, Tuktoyaktuk, 1:36:11:06

Alexis Campbell reaches the Hay River Golf Course and Hay River Ski Club point with her team of dogs in the 12-dog class. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Six-dog race

1. Jerry Voyageur, Fort Smith, 21:05:26

2. TJ Fordy, Fort Resolution, 21:25:12

3. Dexter Lafferty, Fort Resolution, 21:54:53

4. Susan Fleck Fort Providence 22:06:71

5. Eric Beck Fort Resolution, 22:13:25

6. Preston Lafferty Fort Resolution 22:23:15

7. Jemra Gruben Tuktoyaktuk 23:23:58

8. Alexis Campbell Yellowknife 23:27:05

9. Andrew Gallop, Fort Resolution, 23:52:75

10. Pete Emile, Fort Smith 24:18:67

11. Randy Buggins Hay River Reserve 24:19:51

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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  1. Congratulations Danny Beaulieu…My Daughter Marissa and I were on the highway waving at You…Great Job…⭐️⭐️