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Laconia sled race is back on again, set for this weekend

LACONIA - Sunday's snowstorm has the dogs howling. The 84th Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby, scuttled last weekend because of the lack of snow, is back on again, opening Friday and continuing through Sunday.

Spokesman Diane Lyman said about 50 race teams are expected to take part in the race, sanctioned by the International Sled Dog Racing Association with a purse of $20,790.

She expects between 10 to 20 teams, with between 14 and 16 dogs each, will take part in the unlimited class, racing a 15-mile loop on each of the three days. The one with the fastest combined time wins.

Another 20 to 30 teams will compete in the six-dog race on a 6-mile trail. Also expected to race are about 10 junior teams and then the one-dog sled races for the youngest children, scheduled for Sunday.

"It's a lot of fun," said Lyman. "The starting line is a bedlam of noise and excitement with the dogs howling ready to run. It's really awesome."

When the 84th Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby was canceled last weekend due to lack of snow, Lakes Region Sled Dog Club president Jim Lyman urged members to pray for snow so the race could be held later this year.

On Sunday, those prayers were apparently answered as the white stuff blanketed the region and most of New Hampshire. Now, with snow forecast for Wednesday and with no rain in sight, the highly anticipated race is on. The three-day derby begins Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the north end of Old North Main Street, across from the Lakes Region Correctional Facility, and continues through Sunday.

The race dates back to 1929 when the New England Sled Dog Club held its first race.

Canadians and United States citizens largely make up the racers, sometimes with the Canadians outnumbering the Americans, although occasionally the derby will draw competitors from Europe.

Trace Adkins
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