FARMINGTON — More than 200 people of all ages watched 75 racers compete Saturday in the Farmington Frolic at the seventh annual Farmington Sprint Sled Dog Races off Route 2.

The races will continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today in the fields of Sandy River Farms east of downtown Farmington.

For Ashlynn Harrington, 7, of Fayette, the Downeast Sled Dog Club event was a dream come true.

In her debut competition in the Junior Sled 1-Dog Speed Class, the youngster placed third among 16 racers with a time of 15.24 seconds.

“I’ve been wanting to race all my life, practically,” Harrington said, hugging Twilight, her sister’s Alaskan husky-Malamute sled dog. “I like how they go really fast.”

“The most important things you have to remember are to push on the brake at the end, and hold onto the thing and do not let go,” she said, placing special emphasis on the last four words.

Saturday was the perfect blue-sky morning for the event, with early-day temperatures topping the 36-degree mark before plummeting in breezy wind chills as storm clouds overspread the sky by early afternoon.

The races were canceled last year due to a lack of snow, but this year there was plenty of it, with more on the way Saturday night into Sunday.

Of the afternoon competitions, first-day winners in the 10-mile Adult Sled 6-Dog Speed Class were: first, Joshua Mercure of Oxford with a time of 16 minutes, 23.98 seconds; second, Brittany Colbath of Guilford, N.H. at 16 minutes, 48.83 seconds; and third, Alex Therriault of Oxford with a time of 17 minutes, 15.65 seconds.

Winners of the Adult Sled 6- and 8-Dog Speed Class were the Rev. Bruce Swan of Springfield in first place at 17 minutes, 27.12 seconds; Jenn Swan of Springfield, second, at 18 minutes, 32.08 seconds; and Brian Shepherd of Harrison in third place at 20:37.40 seconds. The Swans had eight-dog teams while Shepherd had six dogs.

“Beautiful trail. That was awesome!” racer James Doucette of Prince Edward Island said after crossing the finish line in fifth place with a time of 17 minutes, 58.24 seconds.

Spectator Barbara Bailey of Andover brought her two granddaughters to watch her friend Bruce Swan compete.

“I like watching the dogs,” she said. “I once lived in Alaska and saw the dogs there, and I actually saw the Iditarod once in 1979.”

A recreational skijor event rounded out the day with plenty of laughs from the crowd as novice entrants attempted to get their pet dogs to sprint down a 2-mile course while attached by a cord to their owner on skis. A few attached two dogs, but most tried it with one dog.

Karen Thorp of Yarmouth gave it a try with her adopted shelter dog Zealand, a 1-year-old German shepherd-border collie mix.

Even though the skijor wasn’t a competitive race, Thorp said she was competing against her dad, Chuck Thorp, who was tethered to Dakota, an 8-year-old black Labrador retriever-golden retriever mix.

“I do this a couple of times a week, but this is our first race,” Karen Thorp said. “I’m hoping I beat dad.”

Chuck Thorp, who ran the New York City marathon in November, said it was his second skijor event.

Prior to the start, announcer Joy Turner explained recreational skijoring to the crowd. She said normal skijoring competitions are 6 miles long, but the recreational event was only 2 miles due to the racers’ inexperience.

“This is a great way to find out if your pet dog wants to do this, so you don’t have to drag him for 4 miles if he doesn’t,” Turner said

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