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  • Writer's pictureKara

Sled dogs on Lake Minnetonka

Over 10,000 spectators anticipated.

Joshua Hway, Dynamic Photowerks

Uniting the Lake Minnetonka community with the greater state

of MN and snowy climates beyond, the [1st Annual] Lake Minnetonka Klondike Dog Derby returns a piece of heritage to the lake. Witnessing this magical harmony between human & animal is not often possible in metro and suburban areas, and hasn't been seen here since 1998. But Sunday, February 9th, 2020 we have the unique opportunity to be a part of history as competitive dog sledding returns to Lake Minnetonka, along with a crowd of visitors from around the country (and Canada).

Whether you watch from your lakefront home, ice castle, fishing shack, the shores along Excelsior's Lake Street, or a warming tent in Wayzata, the extreme energy of these sled dogs will energize your soul. In their element, dogs and mushers alike will take to the ice covered lake, starting on Water Street in Excelsior. Teams will be released with the launch music of their choosing (I'm excited to hear what each team selects), and those paws will thunder across the lake ice! An average journey time of 2 hours is expected for the 40-mile trek, and sled teams will finish the derby back on Water Street where you will find events happening throughout the day.

The exact course route is yet to be confirmed, but we do know it will be on the Lower Lake and will circle around Big Island. The route was chosen with the assistance of water safety officials, keeping ice, obstacles and channels in mind. Weather is a huge factor. Let's all cross our fingers for a light snow layer (2 to 6 inches) blanketing the lake in the days leading up to the event, and no slush. Organizers hope to create the track 1 day in advance of the race, and ask for our help in preservation of the track (PLEASE DON'T snowmobile across it or use it as a sledding hill for your littles). They also ask that we please keep animal companions at home.

If you want to get in on the action without going out in the cold, consider viewing the race from the VIP Tent (definitely the best vantage point), or get to Haskell's Port of Excelsior when they open (11am) and claim one of their window seats with a lake view! Grab a beer at Excelsior Brewing and you can listen to the live play-by-play.

TIP: Walk over to Excelsior's west public parking lot between 8am - 10am race day to get a behind the scenes look as the dogs get harnessed and ready to take to the course!

Alaskan Husky @ Iditarod Headquarters in Alaska.

Join the fun leading up to the event by visiting Lord Fletcher's Saturday, February 8th. There you can meet the mushers, hug a husky, and grab some merch!

This is a great opportunity for kids to see the dogs up close and ask questions of the mushers.

Race day there will be family-friendly activities and specials happening at businesses along Water Street including Pique Travel, The Suburban, Kowalski's and Dunn Bros.



Hi Katherine, I'm SO glad you found the blog and will be attending! I'm excited to have it right in our backyard!


Katherine Mendieta
Katherine Mendieta

HOW FUN! I had no idea this event was happening and now I can't wait to attend. Looking forward to this - thank you!

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