First Mount Massive Mush Dog Sled at Golf Course
by Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today contributor
Last weekend, February 6 & 7, the Colorado Mountain Mushers (CMM) brought the inaugural Mount Massive Mush to Leadville with a state-wide dog sled race at Mt. Massive Golf Course. Nearly a dozen entrants from classes ranging from single ski-jorers to teams of eight dogs pulling sleds along the three miles of groomed course around the country’s highest golf courses.
Here’s a Question and Answer session with Mark Hatch, President, Colorado Mountain Mushers
Leadville Today (LT): Where did the Colorado Mountain Mushers begin?
Mark Hatch (MH): CMM began in the late 1980’s as a family oriented club to help promote the sport, and nurture those who are interested in the dog sledding. We are an offshoot from the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club when the founders of the club felt that the family aspect of the sport was not being supported.
LT: What other events do the CMM host throughout the year?
MH: We try to stay active throughout the year; along with our traditional dog sled races during the winter we also have dry-land races in the fall (one of which we hold in Buena Vista). In the spring we have an annual banquet, during the summer we do a picnic for everyone to get together and socialize, and in early fall we have a group camp out at Camp Hale just north of Leadville. The club always tries to be very proactive in community outreach ranging from classroom visits at schools to canine community dog fairs.
LT: How many members make up the CMM, and from what demographic?
MH: CMM has around 70 memberships, these include individuals, families & associate (non racing) memberships. We range in age from teens still in school to retired teachers. We have a wide diversity of members; from Plumbers to Orthopedic Surgeons, Ranch Hands to Rocket Scientists who work for Lockheed Martin. Lately we have seen a growth in membership from young professionals who have just 1 or 2 dogs and are looking for a way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
LT: What’s new about the Mount Massive Mush this year?
MH: This year we were limited to the golf course property and the trail lengths ranged from one to three miles. Next year we will talk with the Forest Service and see about expanding the race to around 11 miles.
LT: What are entry fees like to races?
MH: We try to keep our entry fees for each of the classes somewhat reasonable, while being able to cover our expenses. They range from $25.00 to $40.00.
LT: Do the CMM have any particular connection to Leadville and Lake County?
MH: A hand full of mushers live or have ties to the Leadville / Buena Vista area but we do not have any specific ties to Leadville except it has it’s unique character and is always fun to visit. Plus the community has always been very supportive of our activities.
The CMM also provide a public voice in relevant legislation that affects dogsledding in Colorado. They partner with Mush With PRIDE, a coalition that fosters ethical treatment and raising of sled dogs. As they continue to grow they encourage more involvement from communities like Leadville and individuals with similar interests. Read more about them on their website or facebook page.
Brennan Ruegg is proud friend of a dog named Mamba.