© 2023 Boise State Public Radio
WebHeader_3.png
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stay up to date on the 2023 legislative session – subscribe to our Legislative Round-Up newsletter today.

Sled dogs race through Idaho's West Central Mountains

The sound of enthusiastic barking dogs have been ringing through the West Central Mountains as sled dogs and their mushers roam up and down the mountain paths for the fifth annual Idaho Sled Dog Challenge!

There are shorter races on the docket, plus the 300-mile big race which draws top mushing teams from around the country, and this year six Idahoans are taking part.

ISDC 2022 - PROMO
Melissa Shelby
/
Melissa Shelby Photography
Montana musher Nicole Lombardi won the 2022 Idaho Sled Dog Challenge’s 100-mile race. She's registered to compete in the 2023 100-mile race.

Dog musher Nicole Lombardi won the Idaho 100-mile race last year and she just won this year's 100-mile race at the Eagle Cap Extreme. She says the Idaho Challenge is special.

“I really love that race. The community is great. I can tell you. I always look forward to driving through the small towns and looking at the ice sculptures. But specific to the race, you know, there's a whole community that comes out. The school kids come out and they look at the dogs,” says Lombardi.

She’s been racing dogs for a while now and sort of fell into the sport.

“I got my first sled dog because I was looking for a running partner, a dog that would run trails with me. And I quickly realized that I was going to be outmatched by my dog,” Lombardi laughs. She took part in a clinic with the Cascade Sled Dog Team and started racing.

ISDC 2022 - PROMO
Melissa Shelby
/
Melissa Shelby Photography
Montana musher Nicole Lombardi with one of her dogs. She won the 2022 Idaho Sled Dog Challenge’s 100-mile race. She is registered to compete in the 2023 100-mile race.

There’s a lot of up-and-down elevation in the Idaho race; the Challenge’s co-founder says it’s like going 500 miles in a 300-mile race.

Idaho Sled Dog Challenge promotions director Eliza Barclay says they brought back the Ceremonial Start to the race this year, which is a great chance to meet the mushers, talk to judges, and even bid on a sled ride. She says everyone’s invited to watch this year’s races, but she asks spectators to leave their dogs at home.

“Please don't bring your pets, your pet dogs. These dogs are working dogs. They love to run. That's what they do. And it's like if you're running a big race yourself, you really don't need distractions … so bringing your pet dogs, it just causes distraction,” says Barclay.

She says there are a lot of spots where you can watch the mushers during the races and you can also track them in real-time online.

“All of the mushers have live tracking devices on them. So if you follow the live tracking, that will give you the most accurate estimate of when you can see them coming in,” she says.

If you want to do more than just watch the dogs, Barclay says the Challenge always needs volunteers.

The big race starts on Jan. 30.

ISDC 2022 - PROMO
Melissa Shelby
/
Melissa Shelby Photography
On Feb. 2, 2022, a sled dog team approaches the finish line of the 300-mile race.

Stay Connected
As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life!). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.