This year’s Canadian Challenge is living up to it’s name.

Three of the 9 teams in the 12-dog race have dropped out, including Pierceland’s defending champion Gerry Walker.

The main reason for the withdrawals is tough conditions along the trail. The recent cold temperatures turned the slush into bumpy ice, which is difficult to navigate.

“Now everything’s frozen hard. It’s hard on the dogs a bit and so it’s painful for them to continue,” Gill Gracie, the president of the Canadian Challenge sled dog race said, adding that the decision to drop out is always a joint decision between a vet and a musher.

“It’s not called the challenge for nothing. It’s not an easy race,” Gracie said.