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Alaska sled dog race canceled because of lack of snow

December 8, 2009 | 11:07 am

Three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey drives his team into a checkpoint at last year's race.

The Sheep Mountain 150 sled dog race scheduled to take place Dec. 12-13 has been canceled because of insufficient snow.

The race is the first mid-distance contest of the season and is used by many mushers as a warmup for the 1,112-mile Iditarod, scheduled to begin March 6.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the Talkeetna Mountains did not receive enough snowfall in the higher elevations to safely run the race.

"Although there is good snow cover in the area immediately around Sheep Mountain and Eureka Lodges, as soon as you get into the high country, it disappears to a dangerously thin level," race director Zack Steer said.

"There is not enough snow to support 45 dog teams, especially on the downhill sections in the mountains," Steer said. "Mushers are not able to control their dog teams without adequate snow to operate the sled brake. Safety for the dogs and the mushers is paramount to this race, and right now that is not possible."

Steer said the race will not be rescheduled.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey drives his team into a checkpoint at last year's race. Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press

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