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Oldest American dog race prepares for weekend start

ASHTON, Idaho (KIFI) - One of Ashton's oldest traditions, the American Dog Derby, is preparing for its 2023 run. Mushers are already being encouraged to register for this highly anticipated race which will kick off later Friday evening with a pre-race meeting.

The race will then kick off in downtown Ashton. People are encouraged to come and see this historic race, and tradition in Ashton. Organizers are excited for the return to the race's traditional starting line. "It's fantastic having it downtown. And, you know, a good tradition we've had for year four years when they started all downtown. And we just wanted to make it safe. That's why we moved it out of town a few times. But keep it going. But this year with the snow and everything is looking really good to have it downtown," said Race director John Scafe.

Scafe adds that main street will be blocked off during the day Saturday to help make sure dogs and mushers and spectators will remain safe.

Already Scafe says a lot of people have already registered to race but expects more. "The pre-registration has been great and I usually get probably 10 to 15 more mushers all the time that come in afterwards. I know of four or five and all this has already committed that'll be here later."

One of the mushers says they are looking forward to coming back. "My dogs and I and usually my family have been coming out to Aston, Idaho, to race for probably at least ten years. We've raced in both the sixth dog and what they call open-class elements of this race before. And we just love coming to Aston, Idaho, every year. It's a highlight of our season," says musher Thad McCracken.

McCracken also adds that it's not just the people that are excited to participate in the race. "They get really excited when we get to the start line. But they know we've been coming to Aston for so long and my dogs are all pretty experienced race dogs that have all raced here multiple times. They kind of know when we get to Ashton where we are and they know why we're here and I can see it and how they behave and how excited they are, you know, they know why we're here and they're ready to go."

McCracken says he's excited about the uniqueness of this particular race as well. "It's just Ashton is a rare, especially in the lower 48, a rare race that starts in town and has that whole downtown atmosphere. And it really is something special in the sport of sled dog racing."

Visitors will also have a chance to see a snowshoe race, a celebrity race, a weight pull, and a youth musher race among other activities.

For more information on the race or where you can register as a musher with your dog team, you can do so here.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.

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