The biggest sled dog rally in the UK will take place this weekend – after sponsors agreed to continue to support the popular event in the Highlands.
The Aviemore Sled Dog Rally was under serious threat last year because of a lack of funding – but a last-minute drive by organisers found backers to ensure the event went ahead after 35 years of running.
Organisers worked “exceptionally hard” to attract sufficient sponsors to enable the event – which costs around £15,000 to host – to take place.
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Pete Jones a musher at the rally for the past 19 years has successfully attracted the sponsors.
The sales manager with Delta Caravans International was delighted the rally will go ahead this year.
He said: “It’s the 36th year the event has been running and the sled dog rally holds a lot of fun memories for a lot of veteran mushers who have been competing year after year.
“The three sponsors – CSJ specialist feeds, Leucillin, and Photizo light therapy – all agreed that you could see the commitment people put into the event and were proud to sponsor for a second year.
“It’s been this passion that has turned the event into the most prestigious sled dog race held in the UK.
“I have been getting a lot of local support for the event and have managed to work in with the Forestry commission and welcome some local traders to hold a table top stand in the marquee.”
From an original entry of 12 teams in 1984, the race is now the largest of its kind in the UK, with over 1,000 sled dogs and up to 200 mushers.
It features teams of between two and eight dogs pulling their musher on a sled around a four to seven-mile trail.
There are high hopes there will be snow at ground level this year, but the event still goes ahead even if the white stuff doesn’t materialise.
Instead of racing on sled, mushers use a wheeled rig that looks like a tricycle without a seat.
There are eight adult classes and two children’s classes, and mushers range from just eight years old to over 60.
Along with the Siberian Huskies, race dogs include Alaskan malamutes, Samoyeds, Greenland dogs and Canadian Eskimo dogs.
Mr Jones, who travels from Lincolnshire to compete in the event, added: “The event has been a crowd pleaser for many years and spectators flock in their hundreds to meet the teams.
“To celebrate this being the 36th year rally , we have produced a one off design hoodie for competitors and there will be some extras for sale at the event .
“Now all we are hoping for is snow, so we can have an exciting race on sleds.”