Reaching speeds of 25mph on a tricycle pulled by eight dogs - this is husky racing
PUBLISHED: 12:03 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:35 04 February 2019
Copyright: Archant 2019
A love of speed, dogs, the cold and early mornings are a prerequisite for those who race Siberian huskies.
The winter sport, which has been running for more than 40 years in the UK, is growing in popularity with the British Siberian Husky Racing Association hosting eight races in 2018/19, five of which take place in Thetford Forest.
With Siberian huskies bred for their speed and strength, the sport offers a great opportunity to allow the dogs to stretch their legs and enjoy the chilly winter weather for which they are built.
“It is exhilarating, that is for sure,” said organiser of the weekend’s racing in Warren Wood, Chris Grisbrooke.
“The dogs can reach speeds of up to 25mph at their fastest and the fastest teams are averaging 17 or 18mph.
“It is all voice control and you have to have a lot of trust in your dogs and they to have a lot of trust in you.”
Due to the UK’s general lack of snow in most winters, the drivers of the sleds are pulled on three-wheel contraptions rather than sleds across packed grass, mud, and stone along trails ranging from two miles long to six miles.
Teams of dogs can range from singular huskies to eight dogs pulling the tricycle behind them, with the competition so close races are measured down to a hundredth of a second.
Thetford Forest’s popularity for the races is mainly due to the way the ground drains and the trails carved out by the Forestry Commission in its day-to-day work.
Mrs Grisbrooke said: “You are not going through wet and mushy puddles and the trails are just so beautiful and very natural.
“We are so lucky that the Forestry Commission welcome us into their training areas.”
But, the racing is not for the faint-hearted with the winter sport regularly requiring early mornings in bitterly cold temperatures regardless of the weather conditions.
For most, the love of the husky breed and allowing them to run is what draws them to the sport.
Mrs Grisbrooke added: “The first thing is the love of the dogs and knowing what they are bred to do. It is trying to give them the best possible life to allow them to run and keep them fit and to have them do what they enjoy.
“If it is the sort of thing you enjoy and you like to be outside in all weathers and in the early hours, it can be very addictive.”
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