Sled Dog Races

Every winter, the Tamworth Outing Club hosts sled dog races on Chocorua Lake and the surrounding hills.  First run in 1937, the Tamworth Sled Dog race is the oldest sprint dog sled race in the country.

Drawing about 600 to 700 spectators per day, this sled dog race is hugely popular with both residents and tourists.  The race is usually held on the last weekend in January, but is dependent upon snow conditions on the lake.  Chocorua dog sled races (March 02, 2014) -052The Tamworth Outing Club is responsible for marking, grooming and packing the trails.

The races consists of sprint challenges in which the fastest total time of two days of racing heats on a set distance determines the winner. Each team has a driver who is pulled along behind in a sled. As many as 70 teams compete. The longest course is usually 10 to 11 miles. Distances and team size vary by class. The adult Unlimited Class can have eight or more dogs on the team while a juniors’ class may consist of just a one-dogger. The races include an event added in 2007 called Skijoring, where the dogs pull a cross-country skier. The signature race, the Pinetree Power Classic Open, is usually held mid-day.  The race is usually held in late January or early February, but snow conditions on the lake can result in a rescheduling.  Races start at 9am.

Chocorua, NH (March 02, 2014) - 073The New England Sled Dog Club is the oldest continuously run sled dog club in existence. The club got its start in 1924 at the office of Walter Channing and took root under the direction of famed Chinook sled dog racer and breeder Arthur Walden of Wonalancet.  The club’s first sled dog race, held in 1925 in Newport, N.H., was won by Hi Mason of Tamworth.

The whole event brings out families, friends, tourists and travelers all along Route 16 by the lake, including many “impulse” spectators who are driving by and stop.  The races are free to all spectators, but the Tamworth Outing Club welcomes donations.

Chocorua, NH (March 02, 2014) - 088Viewers are treated to a day-long New England experience steeped in tradition and heritage.  Spectators are welcome to walk, snowshoe or ski onto the ice. Hot chocolate, chili, hamburgers and hotdogs are usually available, and there is often a bonfire where marshmallows are toasted.

The first race dogs were commonly Siberian huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and the Samoyed, but northern hybrids of pointers, setters, dalmatians, coon and fox hounds were also used.  Today, sled dogs tend to be more mixes because mixing breeds strengthens characteristics essential to a team dog. They must have strong backs, straight shoulders, compact tough feet, deep chest, large lungs, a tremendous heart and stamina.  Their fur must be protective but not so long it traps snow.

For more information, and the date of the upcoming race, visit the Tamworth Outing Club, the New England Sled Dog Club or at their Facebook page.

For photos of the dog sled races on Chocorua Lake in January 2014, click HERE.


To support our efforts to preserve the Chocorua Lake Basin and provide public access to visitors to the lake and nearby conservation lands, please click HERE.

Typical Daily Race Schedule

7:30am-8:30am:  Registration (drivers will pick up bibs)

8:30am-8:45am:  Drivers meeting

9:00am:

– Skijoring (4 miles)

– 3 Dog Junior (4 miles)

– 4 Dog (4 miles)

After start of Open Class

– 1 Dog Junior (4 miles)

– 8 Dog (8 miles)

– 6 Dog (6 miles)

– Open/Unlimited (10-15 miles)


To support our efforts to preserve the Chocorua Lake Basin and provide public access to visitors to the lake and nearby conservation lands, please click HERE.