Race Organizers and Race Organizations are the back bone of all premier world class events. Without the support of the local community, dignitaries, sponsors, and volunteers WCh quality events like Bristol would be difficult to host. Denis Rozon has taken that challenge with overwhelming support coming from all different directions over the last 5 years hosting what North American dryland mushers call the “perfect event.”
On his 225 acre property with an estimated 80 acre parcel set aside for Timberland Tours (est. 2008), Denis Rozon started the Bristol Dryland race in 2010, a non-profit organization. A great venue with a hard packed sand trail totaling 16km, sufficient parking for dog teams and spectators, grand stands near the finish and start lines, great food and non-stop excitement.
The sport of dryland racing was very new to Canada, so new that 80% of the 55 teams competing the first year came from the USA. The race quickly grew in popularity drawing 270 teams in 2014 from 7 different countries.
I sat down with Denis for a quick interview to get a back seat view of the organization.
How many years have you been involved in sleddog sports?
DR: My mother had sled dogs when I was a kid watching my cousin racing and I got the fever there. I’ve had sled dogs all my life starting with the siberian husky, after that I went with the Alaskans, and in about 2003 went with the Eurohounds. My first race was in 1973 placing 3rd and every year after that went to 8-10 races/year.
What is the estimated cost of hosting this years WCh event?
DR: We have a budget of $100,000 covered by 124 sponsors. That’s why we have no cover charge, no charge for parking, and a shuttle for the spectators from the overflow parking. It’s only me that goes to visit the sponsors…it’s not an easy job. And this year only 2 said no, I can’t believe it! See that straw over there? I had a farmer donate that, maybe the mushers will need straw. He said that’s my donation to you…people want to help. A few years ago a beef farmer came and donated some beef for the racers…just the little details like that encourage you and give you some pep to keep going.
How many spectators do you expect?
DR: This is the hard part. In Canada this sport is not well known…this is what I am trying to work on. It’s hard to get people to come and see a dog race. If you go back 40 years ago, when I was racing…we had no TV, no computer we had 20,000 spectators here in Ottawa to watch the races. People today are busy doing something else. Last year we had about 1000 each day, this year we expect more…it’s the World Championships and we did more advertising too. There’s food available all day for the spectators and participants and two grand stand bleacher areas to watch the start and finish lines.
How much community support have you had?
DR: The municipality here really helped me. I went to the Mayor, Brent Orr and told him I’m going to do this dryland dogsled race and call it Bristol Dryland. He said I am right behind you. He’s a farmer, a mechanic, a mayor and owns a D9 dozer and says if you need it I can help you widen out your trails. FREE! What a guy. You’ll see him at the race 6’4″ – 250 lbs.
What is the future of Bristol Dryland – where do you see the race in 5 years?
DR: I would like to host the World Championships again, it is the registered Canadian National Championships. But if I cannot maybe we call it a World Competition I would like it to be bigger.
There was a lot of small talk going on too but I didn’t want to keep Denis from his race prep any longer, a very busy guy but more than willing to take a few minutes to talk to you. Very personable and very friendly.
I could easily see Denis has a tremendous respect and love for the sport committing his own personal property and working full time solely to dog sled sports. If you see him this week shake his hand and thank him.
VP of Sport – Anne McIntyre, Race Marshall – Rüdiger Bartel, and I led by Denis were able to preview the course this past weekend while athletes were out training on the trails. Preparations were happening in the background by his hard working volunteers crossing t’s and dotting i’s on the fine details that make a World Championship event. As a competitor, handler, spectator, volunteer you will be impressed with the organization and venue that Denis has put together, world class!
Denis looks forward to learning from the IFSS model and helping grow the sport of dryland in Canada, he’s had a pleasure working with our organization.