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Shelburne musher training 19 Alaskan huskies for racing season

Musher Sally Manikian of Shelburne off-loaded 16 of her 19 active racing sled dogs on Tuesday morning, Oct. 29, in the parking lot on Route 2 West in Gorham. She hopes to win a 100-mile race in January so she can qualify, enter, and finish a four-day 250-mile race in March. (click for larger version)
November 06, 2013
GORHAM — Sally Manikian of Shelburne is trying to have each of her 19 racing Alaskan huskies rack up 1,000 miles of training so they can enter the 100-mile Eagle Lake dog sled race on Jan 18, 2014, in northern Maine. It's an early season middle-distance race in which the emphasis is on safety for both dogs and drivers.

"I'd like to qualify, enter, and finish the four-day 250-Can Am Crown International Sled Dog Race out of Fort Kent, Me., starting on March 1," Manikian explained. "To enter you have to finish either a 100-mile race or the Can Am 60 and finish in the top two-thirds.

"The 100-mile Eagle Lake race I'm running in January counts as a qualifying race, but I'd have to finish in the top two-thirds, which can be tough for a rookie!"

She'll use a Minnesota racing sled.

At the Route 2 West parking lot on Tuesday morning, Oct. 29, Manikian caught her breath after getting 16 of her racing group unloaded from her boxy, homemade wood and plywood traveling kennel that rests on the bed of her pickup truck and then harnessing them. She had also unloaded her yellow Polaris 500 ATV from the trailer that she hauls around.

Her sled dogs will pull her in-gear ATV over miles of trail, giving them a real workout. That day she headed up into Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin. Other days she uses the trail system in Dummer. Her dogs range in age from two-and-a-half years old to age seven. Three of her 22 dogs are retired from racing that live inside her house.

The other 19 live in "Shady Pines," group quarters named for the Shady Pines Retirement Home that burned down in the story line of the "Golden Girls," a sit-com TV series that aired from 1985 to 1992.

Manikian worked for several years at Muddy Paws Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson.

"I'm taking all my year's days-off now to get my sled dogs in shape," Manikian said, noting that she has fulfilled the bulk of her responsibilities as Backcountry Resource Conservation Manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) who reports to Andrew Norkin, AMC's Director of Trails & Recreation Management.

They both work at AMC Pinkham Notch.

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