Dillon Gast, his brother and sister grew up sled dog racing as a family. They tended to sled dogs when they weren't in school and all were successful in local races. Dillon took to skijoring at a young age, attaching the dogs to himself on skis instead of a sled. The following first appeared in the Herald of Randolph Feb. 21, 2013.
During his winter break from Castleton State College, where he is a sophomore, Randolph Center resident Dillon Gast went to Italy to compete in the Alpen Trail Race, which took place January 11–19, 2013.
A mid-distance sled dog race run in seven stages, the race covers over 300km of trail in the scenic Alps. The Alpen Trail is highly regarded throughout Europe as a premier six and eight-dog event. Nine different countries were represented at the competition, with Dillon being the only American. The odds were against him winning from the very start, since he was labeled as a rookie competitor in the six-dog class because he had never competed at that race.
Dillon Gast drives his dogs at the Alpen Trail Race last month in Italy. (Provided)“They didn’t realize that he had never competed in a mid-distance race, a night run, or a mass start, however, he had previous experience training for all these conditions,” said his mom, Patricia. “When he arrived in Germany at his mentor, Uli Kuhn’s kennel, he had two weeks to train his team, which was made up of dogs from four different kennels.”
“Dillon was told by several different mushers that he would not finish very high, because the dogs would not work as a team,” she added, “but, upon completion of the seven stages of the race, he had two second, three third, and two fourthplace finishes. Overall, first place went to France, second to Spain, third was won by Dillon Gast from the USA!” Weather permitting, Dillon may possibly compete in a race at Burke Mountain the first weekend in March. His brother, Eddie, who has also raced sled dogs, has been working at the races rather than competing lately. He was trail boss for a race held in Westbrook, Maine January 4 and 5, 2013.
Back in 2011, Dillon was one of 13 athletes selected to represent the USA in the International Federation of Sled Dog Sports Winter World Championships in Norway. Dillon and Eddie have both won gold medals with the International Sled Dog Racing Association. In addition to having their exploits noted in the sports pages of The Herald, the Gasts have been written about in a number of other publications, including a profile in Ranger Rick magazine. They have also taught workshops about their sport and done demonstrations at schools all over the area.