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Race To The Sky set to return

Race to the Sky
Posted at 4:04 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 18:07:23-05

HELENA — Last year was strange, with many events around Montana and across the country canceled because of the pandemic. But hopefully, this year is a little different, starting with the return of one of the state’s most interesting winter events, the Race To The Sky.

“Mushers are thrilled, the volunteers are excited, and we’re excited to be able to put this on again,” race vice president Pam Beckstrom told MTN.

Starting February 12, the sled dog races kick off in Lincoln, continuing a tradition dating back more than 30 years.

And if you don’t have any dogs yourself, that’s no problem - you can still come out and enjoy the event.

“People just love to come, it’s a family event," Beckstrom said. "So bring your kids, bundle up your kids, bring them. Let them watch the dogs run. They can come early and pet the dogs and ask the mushers questions and learn a little bit about the sport.”

The race, which has brought racers from all over the world, is unique in a lot ways. But if you ask the mushers there is one thing that keeps people coming back here to the Treasure State.

“The terrain, it’s a beautiful, beautiful trail. And the trails are amazing," said Beckstrom. "That kind of racing situation and they certainly don’t get that kind of training situation. We’ve had mushers from Alaska come down and say, do you realize what great trails you have here, and we do, we know.”

Another thing attendees and participants can look forward to this year is the honoring of the race’s co-founder Dave Armstrong, who passed away last year.

From the Race To The Sky website:

The races were organized first as Montana’s Governor’s Cup Sled Dog Race in 1986 and they ran the first 500 mile race in February of that year. Since that year, Race to the Sky has been an Iditarod qualifier.

In 1989, they became Montana Sled Dog, Inc. Each February, since then, MSDI has been hosting this distance race. It has gone through several distance changes, including adding a 250 mile race, a 300 mile race and changing the 500 mile race to a 350 mile continuous format race.

We now organize three races “within” a race.  We have the 300 mile distance race, the 100 mile junior continuous race and the 100 mile adult continuous race.