ELY – With Ely wrapping up another Winter Festival celebration, final plans are being made for the 11th annual WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race, scheduled for Feb. 23-24. Cold temperatures and …
ELY – With Ely wrapping up another Winter Festival celebration, final plans are being made for the 11th annual WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race, scheduled for Feb. 23-24. Cold temperatures and recent snowfall should make for a great racing experience this year.
The race is a mid-distance event with two classes, a 30-mile six-dog race and a 50-mile eight-dog race. The race starts and finishes at the Ely Softball Complex on Old Airport Rd. on Sunday, Feb. 24.
As of Wednesday, there were 16 six-dog teams and at least 11 eight-dog teams signed up for the race. At least 30 teams took part in the race last year, according to race organizer Ellen Cashman. Defending WolfTrack Classic champion Ryan Anderson and recent Beargrease Marathon champion Blake Frekking are returning to Ely this year.
Teams arrive around 7 a.m. next Sunday morning for vet checks and race preparation. “The public is invited and encouraged to come watch and share the pre-race excitement of the dogs,” she said.
The first team leaves the Ely start line at 9 a.m. sharp. Each team leaves at two-minute intervals until all teams are on the course. The race follows the Taconite Trail through Bear Head State Park, the Fishing Lakes Trail, crosses Bear Head Lake and comes by the Bear Head Shelter House before heading back to Ely.
“It is a beautiful trail through the Superior National Forest with challenging terrain,” Cashman said. “There are some great viewing spots to check the progress of your favorite team, including Highway 1, Highway 21 and Bear Head State Park. You need a park sticker, if you plan to enter the park and watch the race.”
A popular addition last year was bringing both the start and finish to Ely. “Spectators for both the six- and eight-dog teams cheered them across the Ely finish line,” she said. “Also popular was the all-day event at the Grand Ely Lodge. A special musher menu is available. You can sign up for door prizes and there are plenty of activities for kids.”
After all the teams have finished, teams gather at the Grand Ely Lodge for the presentation of the awards.
The public can join the competing 2019 mushers, handlers, WolfTrack Classic board members, and volunteers for the annual pre-race event at the Vermilion Community College cafeteria at an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner that will be served along with beverage, salad, bread and dessert. The dinner runs from 4-6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The cost is $10 per adult, and $5 for youth 10 and under and VCC students with student ID. Proceeds from this event support the Vermilion Community College’s Wilderness Club.
Late sign-up for mushers will take place from 4-5 p.m. at the meal site. Race veterinarian, Dr. Chip Hanson, will be present from 4-5 p.m. to review all vaccination papers.
Visit www.wolftrackclassic.com for additional race weekend details or follow us on Facebook @wolfTrackclassic.