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Global Skywatch

Darby Dog Derby


I’m very excited that I and my ham radio friends are going to

be part of the dogsled and ski-jor races in less than two weeks.

dogsled 6 dog

The Bitterroot Mushers
have been running this set of races for 7 years. The January 18th and 19th weekend event, however, will be the first with radio communications around the course.

The races start with teams heading out in two minute intervals. They run 100 yards across the parking lot where they disappear into the woods. Much later they reappear and race across the parking lot to the finish line. This leaves a large blank area for the spectators and fans.

Enter amateur radio.

We are going to scatter radio operators around the course. A big benefit is safety with the ability to call for help from miles out if the need arises. Much more fun will be the reports coming in from the checkpoints. As each team passes, the radio team on the trail will report to the base station in the parking lot. Spectators can track each race as it unfolds.

I have a lot of details to work out in a short time. The idea and my connection with it began just a couple days ago. Fortunately, I am a great circle of friends who can pull it all off. The hard stuff is all done…. like knowing a number of good radio operators AND especially The Bitterroot Mushers getting all these great dogs, people and equipment together for a beautiful, fun weekend.

dogsled 4 dog

The races start at 9:30 Saturday morning and quite literally RUN well into the afternoon.
Sunday racing RUNS from 9:30 to the awards ceremony around 2:00 PM.

There are 8-dog teams, 4-dog teams, 2-dog teams, sleds and ski-jor (dogs pulling a skier). In a great fluke of nature, our Gibbons Pass area has LOTS of snow while every other dogsled event in the region has been canceled for lack of snow to run on. All of those teams are flocking to the Darby Dog Derby for a chance to practice and warmup for a season of racing and fun.

There is a whole lot more information about this at The Bitterroot Mushers website.

I have never seen a dog team hooked up to anything. My Newfoundland Opie pulling my home-made cart is the only pulling experience I’ve had. I am THRILLED that the dog racing is happening close enough that I get to go see it in person.

Icing on the cake is that I get to play a bit part in the event itself.