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Lack of snow, poor trail conditions cancel Sandwich Sled Dog Race

February 24, 2010
SANDWICH — Lack of snow, heavy rains, and a missed storm lead to the cancellation of this year's Sandwich Sled Dog Race, though organizers are looking ahead to next year.

The race was scheduled to start around 9 a.m. on Saturday at Floyd's Fields off Bennett Road in North Sandwich.

On Wednesday, however, the Sandwich Sidehillers announced the race's cancellation on its Web site, thanking volunteers for their efforts. The traditional musher's dinner at Sandwich Central School was also cancelled.

Lack of snow was the major reason behind the cancellation, especially after Tuesday's forecasted storm did not produce enough needed for the race to go on.

"I don't think we've had snow in about a month," said race secretary Julie Dolan.

Dolan said further concerns were raised by a large rainstorm that further degraded the course conditions.

The race committee was in a similar situation last year with concerns about snow conditions. Like last year, a storm was predicted for days before the race that could bring the course much-needed snow. The storm came last year and the race was able to go on.

On Tuesday, four to eight inches of snow was predicted to fall and any decision on whether the race would go on this year hinged on how much snow the area received.

"We barely got three inches here," Dolan said. "We would have needed at least eight inches here. Its just not safe here being able to run with dogs."

Dolan said despite last year's lack of snow and narrow call on the race, the base of the track was in much better condition than it was this year.

"We'll start working soon on next year's race," she said.

Dolan said mushers registered from as far away as Minnesota and some from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and other locations, as well as many racers from New Hampshire. Many mushers were coming from locations that had been buried in snow from southern storms.

"Pennsylvania (said) they had 'plenty of snow down here, we'd be happy to send you some,'" Dolan said. "Massachusetts, they couldn't understand why we didn't have enough snow. There's plenty of snow everywhere else."

This year 20 people had signed up and another 25 to 30 were expected, mainly New Hampshire racers waiting to register when they knew the snow conditions. Dolan said around 32 signed up last year.

"The regular mushers I'm sure remember this race," Dolan said. "Sandwich has always been a challenging course and a good training race for some of these longer races."

Dolan said many people are used to having the race in the third weekend of February, despite the nearly five-year gap between races.

The Sandwich race has been a tradition for around 25 years. There was a five-year period where the race did not take place for organizational and financial reasons, though the Sandwich Sidehillers have organized the Sandwich Sled Dog Race for the past two years.

"Now we've gotten it going again, this is our second year now and now we have to cancel it," Dolan said. "It's a little frustrating, but we'll definitely be on for next year."

Dolan said the race is done with the help of many volunteers.

"This is all kind of grassroots and all organization, lots and lots of volunteers who give their time and work hard," Dolan said.

The race committee will meet again within a month and discuss options for next year at their monthly meetings.

"There's always next year, just like the Red Sox," Dolan said.

Martin Lord & Osman
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