One kennel and one name between them, father and son team Warren and Sam Palfrey honoured the family name and history with terrific performances at the Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race in Prince Albert last weekend.
Warren crossed a lonely finish line at 5:23 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 to claim his victory, after 60 hours of mushing through temperatures as low as -30, interspersed with a couple mandatory breaks and some fitful sleep.
“I had a flawless race, strategy– and dog–wise everything came together for me,” said the elder Palfrey.
Eight hours later and down five dogs from the 12 all the competitors started with, Sam crossed the line at 1:43 a.m., with his father in the crowd urging him on. The race covered 520 kms, from the heart of Prince Albert Sask. up to La Range.
Going into the race, the team had high hopes, with first and second place well within their sights.
During the race, mushers had to create a strategy of when to stop and how long to stop, resting both their dogs and their selves.
Despite the rather open nature of the race, Warren was sure of his position up front during the race.
“I knew exactly where I was because there were no tracks in front of me,” he said.
He was also certain that his son was sitting back in second during the race, he sad.
The race featured one mandatory rest stop and a floating rest stop that could be taken at any number of check points along the way
Warren’s a long time musher, with a couple runs at the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest under his belt and a kennel of dogs he brought his son Sam up around, which gives Sam his own long history with the sport.
Outside of his formative life spent around dogs and sleds, Sam has his own history with the sport, including a win at last year’s Caledonia classic that he will soon be back in Ft. St. James to defend.
The father/son team had teamed up with American musher Jessie Royer, putting together the two kennels to make a super-kennel, the A-team of which Royer has up north to take on the Iditarod, while Warren and Sam took the B and C team respectively.
Warren has equally high hopes for Royer up in Alaska, running the Iditarod.
“She’s a heck of a musher and last year she was in the middle of the pack,” Warren said.
“So this year we have hopes for her. There’s always the potential to win.”
Warren will join Jessie up in Alaska, though as race official, not a musher.
It will be his second time as a race official for the event, a position in which he liases between staff at checkpoints to make sure the race is running smoothly.