The annual "Race to the Sky" begins February 7th, 2020.
The race commemorates the dogs and soldiers that served at Camp Rimini. Camp Rimini was a war dog reception and training center.
In 1943, Camp Rimini housed about 800 sled dogs, 100 pack dogs, and 125 soldiers. The dogs were being trained for the Invasion of Norway mission in World War II. Camp Rimini was one of just two camps with the dog training program.
“I just like driving the dogs,” laughs Dave.
99-year-old Dave Armstrong entered Camp Rimini when he was 22-years-old in 1943. Dave’s duty at the camp was to train the dogs, but the Invasion of Norway ended up being canceled. The dogs and soldiers at Camp Rimini transitioned into a search & rescue team for planes downed in places like Alaska or Greenland.
“One of the things I made sure of, that the pilot's mother was notified, dead or alive,” says Dave.
Dave and his team also retrieved thousands of dollars worth of equipment for the U.S. Government.
When Dave returned to Montana after the war, he came back and he had enough dogs to form a team in dog sledding.
“And up in the northwest corner, there seemed to be several guys that had teams of dogs. We finally organized a race every year,” says Dave.
He eventually helped form the Governor's Cup Sled Dog Race in 1986. The race would eventually become the Race to the Sky competition. Dave competed in the race into his 80's.
2020’s Race to the Sky competition will be held between February 7-11th.