Race History

Race to the Sky commemorates the Camp Rimini War Dog Reception and Training Center just outside Helena and has been since 1989. 

In 1943, Montana’s Camp Rimini became the training ground for 800 sled dogs, 100 pack dogs, and about 125 soldiers. The mission was to set up a training camp for the invasion of Norway, one of only two such camps in the United States. They needed sled dogs that could navigate the snowy parts of Norway with equipment to aid the soldiers. They also needed soldiers that knew how to train dogs and some that could speak fluent Norwegian.

Nestled near the Continental Divide just a few miles from the capital city of Helena, it was the perfect place to train sled dogs, perform training maneuvers, and witness the harsh winters.  The camp was in operation for almost a year and a half when the invasion of Norway was cancelled but the efforts of the dogs and soldiers were then used in search and rescue operations. They were sent  to Newfoundland, Baffinland, Labrador, Greenland, and even Alaska to retrieve equipment and supplies from downed airplanes in remote areas. All tolled, they retrieved thousands of dollars worth of equipment for the U.S. Government and were a legend in dog mushing history.  They also brought back soldiers, some alive and others were brought by for a proper burial by their families.

This unusual training camp is an important part of the Race to the Sky’s history. Each February, we commemorate the soldiers and sled dogs who served during World War II in this remote area of Montana.

It takes an army of volunteers to put this race on, but it is a great place for today’s mushers to run their dogs and remember what the dogs and soldiers did for all of us.

Today, Race to the Sky is 35 years old, and a Montana tradition. It’s supporters, volunteers and sponsors have been there  since its birth. It is the volunteers who make the race happen each February and without them, it wouldn’t take place.

Race to the Sky welcomes you to become a part of our team by volunteering your time, talents, or financially donating to the efforts of Montana Sled Dog, Inc. Please direct any questions either by e-mail to info@racetothesky.org or by calling 406-881-DOGS. We would love to talk to you about becoming a sponsor, volunteer, or race supporter.