Among the many events taking place during the Sourdough Rendezvous weekend is a dog-powered race that mid-distance rookies are welcome to join.

The Dog Powered Sports Association (DPSAY) is hosting the annual mid-distance race from Whitehorse, northwest to the Mendenhall Subdivision and back, called the River Runner 120. This year the race takes place on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Dogs are a big part of our Yukon communities and during the long winter it is important to find fun outdoor activities that keep the dogs — and their owners — in shape.

Skiing with your dog(s) or running them with a sled is a great way to improve your quality of life. People who come out to the monthly Yukon Brewing Twister race series, also organized by DPSAY, find that the social aspect of meeting other dog enthusiasts is as important as the physical exercise.

The popular River Runner 120 offers up-and-coming mushers an opportunity to test their teams and skills before tackling any of the bigger races. Professional mushers use it as a fun warm down run after the Yukon Quest or as the last test before the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Skijorers can also participate for 60 miles (96 km) or 120 miles (193 km), making the River Runner one of the longest skijoring races in the world.

Whitehorse resident Adam Robinson started mushing six years ago and is now a guide at Sky High Wilderness Ranch. He participated in the 2012 River Runner, his first race longer than 30 miles (48 km). This year, Robinson will run the race as a skijorer, an activity he started doing only a winter ago.

“It was a great opportunity for me to learn a little bit about how a race with a checkpoint works and to see how my dogs performed over that distance,” Robinson says.

Carcross resident Crispin Studer has been mushing for 12 years and has a wide race experience through his participation in the Yukon Quest, the Percy de Wolfe Memorial Mail Race, the Top of the World 350 among others. Studer is participating in the Yukon Quest and the River Runner this year, with just a couple of days in between.

He has racked up experience on the River Runner route, having participated two years in a row, then acting as race marshal in 2012.

“I would highly recommend this race to any rookie because you can learn a lot” Studer says. “And for veteran mushers, it is a great training opportunity as well.”

Racers, volunteers and spectators are welcome to the start of the race on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. at Shipyards Park in Whitehorse.

With a mandatory six-hour layover in Mendenhall, participants will cross the finish line the next day at Shipyards Park.

Check out DPSAY’s website at http://dpsay.wordpress.com/ for more information.

Virginia Sarrazin is the president of DPSAY and invites your dogs (and you) to

come and have fun at our monthly events (and in between).