Featured in the Sept/Oct 2007 Issue of Mushing Magazine:The Southland Sled Dog Association (SSDA), in New Zealand, runs a large number and variety of events throughout the year. On Saturday June 2nd and Sunday June 3rd 2007 they held their 11th annual Sandy Point Scarper. The Sandy Point Scarper is a premier two day sled dog racing event sanctioned by the New Zealand Federation of Sled Dog Sports (NZFSS). In recent years, the Sandy Point Scarper has grown both in size and reputation. It has become an annual viewing attraction for many members of the public in Southland, New Zealand. More than 45 dog mushers and their support crews (and more than 110 sled dogs) took part in this event. Competitors came from all over the South Island of NZ, staying either at the local Scout Camp, which is adjacent to the staging area, at a nearby caravan park or dog friendly motel. Scout Camp accommodations are very basic, but are economical and hassle free in regards to noise and access to the staging area.All of the races being held during the Scarper take place at Fosbender Park (which is part of the Sandy Point Recreational Reserve). Over the past four years, with the support of the Invercargill City Council Parks and Reserves division, the SSDA has developed Fosbender Park and turned it into New Zealand’s first custom designed “off road” sled dog racing area.  As a result, a large variety of trails have been developed allowing for a selection of race circuits of varying distances between 1km and 7km in length. The race trails are arranged so that the start and finish chutes are located in the same place for every race. This makes organizing the race easy, as well as making the race spectator friendly. The largest fields are in the single and two dog scooter classes with Canicross increasing in leaps and bounds in popularity. The race classes offered are 6, 4, 3 and 2 Dog Sprint, 3 and 2 Dog Freight (all run on rigs), 2 and Single Dog Scooter, Single Dog Freight, Junior Under 10 year and Junior Over 10 year Single Dog Scooter (all run on scooters) and Canicross (one dog). The Saturday night rig racing is always a highlight of the Scarper, as it’s always much more exhilarating making your way around undulating forest trails in the dark. The dogs love snaking their way through the pine plantation on relatively narrow trails, barely 3m wide in places. For the larger teams it is a real test of handling skill for the musher to manoeuvre their rig around the course without clipping trees and/or rolling on tight corners. The dogs are always full of enthusiasm – they just want to see what’s around each corner, until you fly across the finish line – the end of yet another enjoyable race. The trails are very unique and everyone loves attending the events because of them.For more information about the Southland Sled Dog Association check out the SSDA website


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