History of race
Back in 1954, when everyone had a dog team and having the fastest dogs was a status symbol, the two most prominent mushing families in Tok challenged each other to a race to settle the long standing argument between them of whose team was best. Little did they know that that would be the start of one of longest held sled-dog races in Alaska, the Race of Champions. The Race of Champions is now part of the coveted Triple Crown of world class sprint mushing, with the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage and the Open North American in Fairbanks. The race became so popular that the Tok Dog Mushers' Association was officially formed in 1958 for the purpose of raising money and putting on the race. 60 years later the club still works to put on one of the most elite sled-dog races in the world. Over the years the Association has expanded its purpose and goals to encompass more than just putting on a great dog race, the club also participates in a variety of local and community events and programs. It truly is more than just a race......
Rural communities in Alaska are often plagued by social problems including teen pregnancy, youth drug and alcohol use, and suicide. We strive to provide a healthy community activity that the whole family can participate in. Our race and activities provide a safe environment where kids can learn sportsmanship and how to maintain an active lifestyle. In 2013, 45 kids from the ages of 2 to 16 participated in the Junior Race of Champions.
PROVIDE A SAFE AND HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT FOR FAMILIES
ENHANCE NATIVE CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Tok Dog Mushers' recognizes the history of dog mushing in the Upper Tanana as deeply ingrained in the tradition of Alaskan Natives and the local villages. Dog teams were once vital to transportation, and the economic and social lives of Natives. The Tok Race of Champions honors its many Native mushers who have participated in the race since its inception. This race had been a local event supported by the villages of Tanacross and Tetlin for 60 years. People from the surrounding villages of Northway, Dot Lake, Eagle, and Mentasta enjoy the race and have attended and competed for many generations.
PROMOTE THE SPORT OF MUSHING AND KEEP ITS HISTORY ALIVE
Dog mushing has been a way of life in our state for hundreds of years. Native cultures and early settlers relied on dogs for transportation, and to hunt and trap and provide for their subsistence lifestyles. While some still use dogs for subsistence purposes, with the advent of the snow machine, the use of sled dogs has decreased dramatically over the years. People began racing sled dogs for sport in the early 1900's, and since then the sport of mushing has evolved to many different forms. Sprint mushing has a long history in our state and has enabled rural communiities and Alaskan Native cultures to keep the tradition of mushing alive. The 2014 Race of Champions is the 60th running of the race in Tok.
Race of Champions Trivia
· The first winner of the Open Class Race of Champions was Archie Denny in 1954.
· The first woman to win the race was Roxy Wright Champaine in 1989, she won 3 times.
· Egil Ellis holds the title for the most wins, taking first in the open class 12 times. George Attla has won the race 10 times, and Dr. Roland Lombard has 7 first place finishes.
· The oldest musher to compete in the race was Lemmie Charlie in 2010 at 80 years of age.
· Since its inception in 1954, over 880 mushers have raced in the Open Class Race of Champions.