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Sled Dog Races Cancelled for This Winter, Organizers Look Forward to 2013

The warm and snowless winter has forced the New England Sled Dog Races to be cancelled for this year.

The – already postponed once because of warm weather and lack of snow – have now been cancelled for 2012.

The races were originally planned for mid-January at , and , Feb. 4-5.

But late last week, the organizing committee decided that the races would be cancelled for this year.

“The whole committee is disappointed,” said Vanessa Stasiuk-Cottle, the event organizer.

Even though it’s just the middle of the winter, there’s no more dates left to move the race. The rest of the races circuit has weekend dates booked through the end of the winter.

“All the races dates are taken up for the club,” said Stasiuk-Cottle. “There are no other dates, unfortunately.”

And the mostly snowless winter has been half of the problem – the ground needs to be solidly frozen to allow for parking hundreds of vehicles at Appleton Farms for mushers, volunteers and spectators.

“Even if we get a foot of snow, it was really not frozen enough underneath,” said Stasiuk-Cottle. “The ground has to be frozen for a week.”

And it wasn’t even an issue of bad timing, it has been so warm and snowless than there’s hasn’t even been a day this winter that conditions have been right to hold the races.

While sometimes “rig races” on wheels can be conducted, that requires frozen ground.

And the Hamilton races aren’t the only casualties. Sled dog races that were scheduled for the past weekend in Tamworth, N.H. – about 100 miles north of Hamilton is the Mt. Washington Valley – were cancelled because of the weather.

Last year, with several feet of snow on the ground. The first year of the races in Hamilton in 2010 went off on Saturday but was cancelled on Sunday when so much snow melted overnight on Saturday night that the Sunday races had to be cancelled.

There had already been quite a been of planning that went into the races planned for this weekend. About 100 volunteers met in early January to get ready. And a fundraising party was held at the old house at Appleton Farms on Jan. 14.

And many of the donated items for a raffle are still being given away on Sunday, which would have been the second day of the races. Raffle tickets can be bought on the Essex County Trail Association website with the raffle proceeds going to non-profits ECTA, Trustee of the Reservations, Essex County Greenbelt and Massachusetts Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals.

Organizers are now looking toward 2013. There’s no exact date yet planned.

“We might push it back to November next year,” Stasiuk-Cottle said.

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