SHIRLEY, Maine — Ashley Simpson, 26, of Shirley is eagerly looking forward to making good time at this year’s popular 100-mile Wilderness Sled Dog Race in Greenville on Feb. 5.
Simpson, who at 18 was the youngest woman in the history of the Can-Am 250 dog sled races to finish fourth in 2003, said Monday the trail looks good in the Moosehead Lake region. This is the first year the race is being conducted on Appalachian Mountain Club trails, and there appears to be plenty of snow.
“It’s all in the point of really crossing your fingers. Hopefully, this winter works out because it is a blast always to be able to run the dogs during the night and of course see all the communities kind of work together,” Simpson said. “What to heck else do we have to look forward to out in the cold air?”
For Simpson, who owns a kennel with 20 dogs, the Wilderness Sled Dog Race will be the second one she has run in the Moosehead Lake region.
The popular event, which features a 100-mile and a 30-mile race, draws dog teams and spectators from throughout the United States and Canada, according to Maryann Herbert, a race director.
The two challenging sled dog competitions will begin and end at the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Headquarters on Village Street in Greenville. In addition to the races, activities for spectators and families, including a bonfire, children’s snowshoe races, a snowman contest and educational exhibits, are scheduled throughout the day, according to Herbert.
“One of the greatest things about this sport is that men and women compete on an equal footing,” Herbert said.
As of Tuesday, 27 dog teams, including some local mushers, had registered for the races along the scenic trails, Herbert said. The 100-mile event is one of only three long-distance races in New England.
The 100-mile race will start at 9 a.m., and the 30-mile race begins at 11 a.m. Spectators may watch at the starting chute or along the route, including at West Branch Pond Camps in Shawtown Township, as the mushers continue through the 100-Mile Wilderness region.
Herbert said organizers worked hard this year to turn the Wilderness Sled Dog Racing Association into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in recognition of their donors.
For information about the race, visit www.100milewildernessrace.org/ or call Bethany at the Greenville town office, 695-2421.