REGIONAL – The sixth annual WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race will be greeted by plenty of winter this weekend. “We’re delighted Old Man Winter has dished up snow and cold,” said the organization’s vice-president, Theo Theobold.
The WolfTrack Classic weekend includes two races: a six-dog, 30-mile race from Ely to Tower, and a 10-dog, 65-mile race from Ely to Tower to the finish line in Cook. The race runs across the Taconite and Wolf Track snowmobile trails, and traverses through the grand scenery of Bear Head State Park.
Previous WolfTrack races have drawn over 50 mushers from throughout the upper Midwest and Canada.
“In the last two weeks we have had several more teams register for the race,” Theobold said. “With this year’s extended registration, we are expecting several more teams to register.” See the complete list at the group’s website, www.wolftrackclassic.com.
The race board extended paper registration up until the vet checks on Saturday. The registration cost for each race will be $80 for the six-dog race and $120 for the 10-dog race until race registration closes.
Dog trucks will start to arrive in Ely on Saturday, and the public can meet the dogs from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. during the required veternarian check held in lower parking lot at Vermilion Community College. Spectators are encouraged to warm up with refreshments inside VCC during the vet check.
The community is also invited to the chili feed on Saturday at the Ely Senior Center. The social hour begins at 4 p.m. with dinner at 5 p.m. “Everyone is welcome to watch the mushers’ bib presentation, which begins at 7 p.m.,” Theobold said. The dinner will also feature a food drive for the Ely Area Food Shelf.
“Musherabilia” will be available at both the vet check and dinner.
Race-day excitement begins Sunday morning with the start of both races at the Ely Softball Fields off Hwy. 1 on the city’s east side. The 10-dog race starts at 9 a.m. From there, the first checkpoint is in downtown Tower at the Train Depot and civic center. The finish will take place at the Doug Johnson Community Center in Cook with the award ceremony scheduled for around 5 p.m.
The six-dog competition begins at approximately 10:30 a.m. The finish is at the Civic Center in Tower most likely from 12:30-3:30 p.m. The award ceremony will begin at around 4 p.m.
The WolfTrack Classic Board of Directors announced a guaranteed minimum purse of $4,000 to be divided between the two races.
Like years past, race organizers are encouraging folks to get involved. Volunteers are a key part of the WolfTrack Classic. “More than 200 are required for the race to complete safely,” Theobold said. “Not only can volunteers witness the excitement up close, they have opportunities to get to know the mushers and their canines. It’s also a great way to shake off any midwinter blues,”
Theobold said volunteers help manage 15 road crossings, and the start and finish of the two concurrent races. The race has several volunteer groups involved in race-day support roles, including Vermilion Community College law enforcement students and the Tower Boy Scouts. “There are still plenty of volunteer opportunities to support the race,” she said.
Ely has a long mushing history, dating back to the late 1970s when the North American Sweepstakes ran down the streets of town and onto the lakes. WELY radio, 94.5 FM, will broadcast the starts of both races.
State Farm Insurance of Ely and Cook are the major sponsors of WolfTrack Classic 2014. “Without their support of all of our sponsors, this race would not be possible each year,” Theobold said. “A big ‘thank you’ goes to State Farm in Ely and Cook for their premier sponsorship and support of the WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race this year and last year.”
To learn more about the race, or for further information regarding how you can get involved with the WolfTrack Classic, visit their website atwww.wolftrackclassic.com.
Race dedicated to Doug Harris
Doug was a Wolftrack Board Member, lover of dogs, life, adventure and people. He was killed in a logging accident in May 2013, and has left a big hole in the hearts of those who knew him, Theobold said. He ran the Wolftrack race as a musher, served on the Wolftrack Board of Directors, and was one of the Trail Bosses in 2013. “Doug was known for his patient gentle demeanor, his incredibly friendly, inclusive spirit, his selflessness and his ability to always take the time to ask how you were doing and lend a hand,” Theobold said. “He is dearly missed. Please take the time to introduce yourself to a new face at this year’s race and continue the welcoming spirit of this race. Doug would have done the same.”