NORWAY — The Western Foothills Land Trust held its first skijor on the trails at Roberts Farm Preserve on March 2.

Normally during ski season, dogs are not allowed on the preserve’s groomed Nordic trails, so Sunday was a challenging treat for the dogs and their owners, and a test for the land trust to see how the trails would groom up afterward.

Post- race conclusions were all positive, and plans are in the works to schedule a monthly skijor clinic or race event in 2015. Successful skijoring combines a good skier, an athletic obedient dog that likes to follow a trail and a skijor harness.

Eight skiers and nine dogs completed the hilly 5k course in competitive times. Marc and Sara Vanderwood, who are semi-professional skijorers/mushers from Oxford, came in first and second with fast times of 13:43 for Marc and KoKo and 16:42 for Sara and Mars. Koko and Mars are both Euro-hounds.

The next experienced skijorer to come in with a time of 22.17 was Sam Shallard, who skied with his veteran team of standard poodles, Piper and Zoey.

Liz York and Mo (a bulldog-cross rescue) of York , who are veteran cani-cross runners at Roberts Farm, had a time of 23:19. Al Zullo of Wells and canine partner Capone, a Great Dane-bulldog cross finished in 27:35.

The novice skijor team of Amelia Bothel and her golden retriever, Charlie, finished in 37:40. Two Dalmatian owners, Dawn Elliot and Lollipop and Sara Pyrne and Cory, finished the course in unique style with their pups wearing spotted hats.

Sam Shallard strapped a video-cam on his helmet before his run with Piper and Zoey: an edited four- minute version of their skijor on the trails is on the Western Foothills Land Trust’s website: www.wfltmaine.org.

The trust will schedule off-season 2k and 5k cani-cross trail runs monthly in the fall, starting in September. In the interim, residents may visit winter trails at Witt Swamp, Shepard’s Farm, and Virgil Parris Preserves with their dogs (and the snowshoe trail at Roberts Farm). In the summer all trails are open for dog walkers and runners.


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