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Dog Sled Racing Becomes Mainstay Of McCall Winter Carnival

Melissa Shelby
Idaho Sled Dog Challenge
Shot from the 2019 ISDC


For the third year in a row, the McCall Winter Festival will host a dog sled race. But this isn’t just any race. Organized by people involved with the Iditarod, the Idaho Dog Sled Challenge is 300 miles long. And with more than 44,000 feet of elevation change on the course, mushers call this a 500 mile race packed into 300. 

“[These dogs] are machines," says veterinarian Dawn Sessions. "They are speed, endurance machines.”

"[These dogs] are speed, endurance machines." - Veterinarian Dawn Sessions

Race judge Stan Smith says the McCall race is one of the hardest mid-length races on earth. To keep up, the race dogs eat 10,000 calories a day, mostly in the form of raw meat. Running hundreds of miles, injuries can happen, but race vet Dawn Sessions explains that the mushers have a typical human-dog relationship with their race dogs, usually favoring their dogs’ well-being over a win. 

Twenty-one mushers and dog sled teams will be competing this weekend: 10 in the 300-mile race, 10 in the 100-mile race, and one junior musher from Kuna will be competing in the Junior Musher competition, running from the start to the 37-mile checkpoint. 

More information about where to watch the race can be found on the race’s website.

Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters



Molly Wampler is a newsroom intern at Boise State Public Radio. Originally from Berkeley, California, she just graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Washington state. There, Molly worked for her university's newspaper but is stoked to try her hand at and learn all there is to learn about radio journalism.