A news story last week in Nunatsiaq News from Nunavut mentioned that the third annual Iqaluit-Kimmirut dogsledding race will be held this year beginning on March 14. Race promoters hope it will help foster a revival of the use of dog sleds on South Baffin Island, an important part of the Inuit traditional heritage there.
The Association des francophones du Nunavut, sponsor of the event, has put up on its website information about what they call the Qimualiniq Quest, the revival of South Baffin dogsledding. The association hopes that the race will help build community pride in the Iqaluit/ Kimmirut region.
The dogsledders who enroll in the race will depart from Iqaluit, the territorial capital city, on March 14, race about 80 miles across southern Baffin Island to the village of Kimmirut which they expect to reach on the 16th. They will leave Kimmirut on the 18th and arrive back in Iqaluit on the 20th. The route will take the sledding teams through part of the Katannalik Territorial Park.
Prizes offered to the winners of the race are significant: first prize is $5,000, second prize is $2,500, and third prize, $1,500. The website still publishes the regulations for the 2008 race, which include such requirements as the equipment the dogsledding teams must have, the ways the handlers must treat their dogs, and prohibitions against cheating, doping, and the other ills of contemporary sports events.
The sponsors appear to have designed these detailed regulations so that the competition will be completely honorable and sportsmanlike. They specify penalties for bad behavior on the part of participants and rewards, in the form of additional points, for participants who are helpful to other competitors during the race. Interestingly, one of the requirements of the 2008 race was that only Canadian Inuit sled dogs could be used. Any dogs that did not match that condition would be disqualified at the start of the race.