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Sled dog races making return though funding needed

Times Observer file photo The Jim Lobdell Memorial Sled Dog Races are set for the weekend of Feb. 9-11. Some funds are needed to be able to “properly fund the races.

The Tionesta Valley Snowmobile Club is looking to bring back the Jim Lobdell Memorial Sled Dog Races.

But they’re going to need some help.

“Our 2024 racing event is scheduled to take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 9 through 11,” Ed Atwood said. “These are the only sled dog races in Pennsylvania. We call the races ‘Pennsylvania’s Iditarod.’ The late Jim Lobdell worked with our Club to create sled dog racing from Chapman State Park in February, 1979.”

Some funding is needed to have that event go ahead.

Atwood said that $4,000 is needed to “properly fund the races,” centered on the required insurance policy.

“This event’s sled dog racing teams pass through unique terrain, requiring that the races be administered from snowmobiles only,” he said. “This event occurs only through the extraordinary cooperation of multiple land management agencies and our Club’s volunteers.”

Atwood said the races are planned to kick off Friday with a 32-mile mid-distance race.

“There are no other mid- distance races close to here,” he said.

“The unlimited or, ‘Open Class”‘ sprint race requires sled dog teams of eight dogs or more, for a sprint totaling 12 miles,” he explained. “Teams of eight dogs or more require enormous coordination and training, all done by voice command.”

Spring races are set for Saturday and Sunday ranging from two to 12 miles.

“As high as 87 sled-dog teams registered for past races,” Atwood said. “Seven race teams from near Meadville, teams come from Ohio, New York state, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. For some past events, Carroll Johnson of Tok, Alaska traveled to participate in our races.”

Those looking to contribute can call Atwood at (814) 726-2774 or email tsnowclub@gmail.com.

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