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Warm, rainy weather forces cancellation of this year’s Laconia sled dog race

A sled dog team in Laconia in 2022.
Mara Hoplamazian
A team competing at Laconia's 93rd annual World Championship Sled Dog Derby in 2022.

Warm winter weather has canceled this year’s World Champion Sled Dog Derby race in Laconia for the second straight year.

The race has been run since 1929 and is one of the biggest sled races in the northeast.

Jim Lyman, a Lakes Region Sled Dog Club director, said a rainy January and a lack of a hard frost have made for inoperable running trails. The ground, he said, has been holding water, and the lack of snow accumulation means most of the running course is bare.

“There's no way to put a high caliber trail, or any type of trail — even a training trail — with the type of snow right now,” Lyman said.

New Hampshire has seen one of its wettest Januarys ever this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. It ranks this year’s the eighth wettest January in its history recording climate.

New Hampshire’s 2021 climate assessment predicts that warmer days could be ahead for the Granite State.

While there’s snow forecast in the coming days, Lyman said at this point unless it’s a very high dump, it wouldn’t be enough to bring the races back.

“If there were 10 inches of snow, it wouldn't be enough,” Lyman said.

For a 14- to 16-mile trail, like the one the Laconia sled races run on, Lyman said there needs to be a solid base of snow.

Lyman said the sled dog club works with Canadian race hosts to ensure that the Laconia races, typically scheduled for mid to late February, don’t overlap. That also makes rescheduling at the last minute difficult.

Lyman is hoping next year will be the year for the race to mush on.

Olivia joins us from WLVR/Lehigh Valley Public Media, where she covered the Easton area in eastern Pennsylvania. She has also reported for WUWM in Milwaukee and WBEZ in Chicago.

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