Race History

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Race History

Montana Sled Dog, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation through the I.R.S. and the State of Montana. We are also celebrating our 29th anniversary in February. They were organized first as Montana’s Governor’s Cup Sled Dog Race in 1986 and they ran the first 500 mile race in February of that year.

 

In 1989, they became Montana Sled Dog, Inc.   Each February since then, MSDI has been hosting this distance race. It has gone through several distance changes, including adding a 250 mile race, a 300 mile race and changing the 500 mile race to a 350 mile continuous format race. The Race is also an Iditarod qualifier and has been since 1986.  There have been many changes over the past almost 30 years but one things remains eternal—the desire of the sled dogs to run!  We use multi-use trails and once the dogs start, they are quiet and focused on their job.  It’s what they are born to do.

 

Race to the Sky commemorates the Camp Rimini War Dog Reception and Training Center just outside Helena and has been since 1989. Dogs were used during World War II at Camp Rimini.

The mission was to set up a training camp (one of only two such camps in the United States) so the soldiers could invade Norway. “They needed sled dogs that could navigate the snowy parts of Norway with equipment and to aid the soldiers. They also needed soldiers that knew how to train dogs and some that could speak fluent Norwegian.”

In 1943, Camp Rimini became the training ground for 800 sled dogs, 100 pack dogs, and about 125 men to become dog mushers. It was a perfect place nestled near the Continental Divide just a few miles from the capital city of Helena, Montana. The operation existed for about a year anda half and was an excellent place to train sled dogs, perform training maneuvers, and witness the harsh winters.

The invasion to Norway was cancelled but the efforts of the dogs and soldiers were used in search and rescue operations. They were sent  to Newfoundland, Baffinland, Labrador, Greenland, and even Alaska to retrieve equip ment 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 a 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 in this remote part of M ontana. Today, Race to the Sky is 32 years old.

Each February the volunteers organize a 300 mile sled dog race which has become the premier winter event in Montana. Race to the Sky is a Montana tradition and its supporters, volunteers and sponsors have been there race since its birth. It is the volunteers who make the race happen each February and without them, it wouldn’t take place.

The Race brings in a team of International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association veterinarians to take care of the dogs during the race. These highly skilled veterinarians know racing sled dogs and are experts in their field. We are grateful for their assistance each year.The Board of Directors is a volunteer group that meets each month to make decisions about the race, host events, and secure sponsors for the race. It is a big time commitment but board members have a “can do” attitude.

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.