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The 2013 Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Champion Laura Daugereau returns to defend her title in this year’s 200-mile race. (KATY NESBITT/The Observer)
JOSEPH — The running of the 10th annual Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race is Jan. 23 starting at Ferguson Ridge Ski Area.
The state’s only Iditarod qualifier hosts seven 200-mile mushers, 11 in the 100-mile race and two entries in the two-day, 62-mile pot race.
Last year’s 200-mile winner, Laura Daugereau, returns to defend her title. Daugereau said she got interested in sled dog racing in the unlikely place of Guam where she lived with her family as an 8-year-old. A book on sled dogs got her hooked and now she races all over the country and Canada, including two Iditarods.
Bino Fowler of Sunriver is a familiar face at Eagle Cap Extreme races. Fowler said when he was fishing in Alaska he “met the wrong people mushers.” Now he’s been racing for 18 years. Fowler said of his mushing highlights, “In 2004, the opportunity to bring huskies to Wallowa County and meet the great people of this community is the best.”
James Martin of Sunriver said he started handling dogs for Fowler and this year is his debut in the 100-mile race. His goal is to “Be safe and finish what I start.”
Another fan-favorite at Eagle Cap Extreme is Rick Katucki from Eagle, Ida. Katucki said, “My ultimate goal is to complete the Yukon Quest.” Katucki said he once had an argument with his lead dog during a run. “We were on our way back from a run in a new area. At a particular intersection he refused to go the way I wanted. After spending some time trying to get him to go, I relented and we went his way. Turns out, my way would have brought us back as well, it just would have taken longer.”
Twenty year-old Josi Thyr of Catalda, Ida., is running the Eagle Cap Extreme for the second time in the 200-mile race.
Chris Miller returns to race the 200-mile from Gardnerville, Nev. The 10-year veteran races Alaskan Huskies and his motto is, “Never give up.
Jason and Jennifer Campeau of Alberta are new to the race. Jason Campeau is running the 200-mile race. He said his mushing highlight is, “Winning Canadian Challenge last year.”
Jennifer Campeau entered the 62-mile, two-day pot race. She said, “Last year my husband started racing and we took up mushing as a family.”
Alyssa Martin of Colfax, Cali. is racing the 100-mile race in Wallowa County for the first time. She said she started mushing 13 years ago when her grandmother bought her a sled for Christmas. “I then started handling and learning how to mush…I was hooked!”
Chris Wall of Alberta debuts this year in the 100-mile race. He said his mushing highlights are training in the Canadian Rockies and and filming “Klondike for the Discovery Channel.”
Garrett Warren of Council Idaho is running his second Eagle Cap Extreme. The 200-mile racer said, “Winning the 100-mile Race to the Sky in 2012 and receiving Best Cared for Team,” are highlights from his racing career.
Garrett’s mother, Laurie Warren, entered the 100-mile race this year. The experienced mule trainer said she got into mushing when her sons did. She said the family has a cabin to which they race each other in the dark.
Roy Etnire of Seeley Lake, Mont. is racing for the second time in Wallowa County; last year he took second in the 100-mile race. He said Eagle Cap Extreme veteran Steve Riggs got him into racing.
Mark Stamm of Riverside, Wash. is running the 100-mile race and said he’s been mushing for 38 years. He said he’s raced the Iditarod, Yukon Quest, and Race to the Sky, “But the highlight is when you are in tune with your dogs.”
Scott White of Woodinville, Wash. is returning to Wallowa County for the seonc time and running the 100-mile race. His Lost Lake Racing kennel boasts 35 dogs.
In the 200-mile Iditarod qualifier 2013 winner Laura Daugereau of Stockett, Mont. returns. Other Eagle Cap Extreme favorites Rick Katucki, Josi Thyr and Chris Miller are also in the field along with Brett Bruggeman, Garrett Warren, and Jason Campeau.
April Cox of Adin, Cali. joined the 100-mile racers and said she was raising Siberian Huskies when she discovered a sprint race was not too far from her home. “I crossed the finish line in first place; it was the best feeling I ever had!” Cox said she is racing for the cause, “Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.”
Hugo Anonucci from Adin, Cali. and Melissa Turner of Herald, Cali. round out the 100-mile field.
Wallowa County’s own Susan Parraga debuts in the 62-mile pot race. Parraga raises Siberian Huskies for show and said she looks forward to adding mushing to her list of accomplishments as a dog trainer.
The Eagle Cap Extreme runs through the Wallowa Mountains starting at Ferguson Ridge at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23 and runs up to Salt Creek Summit and into the Imnaha River country. Fans can line up on the side of the starting chute to root for the dogs and their mushers.
Race start parking is provided on Tucker Down Road, with a shuttle starting at 10:45. Spectators can also walk from the lot to the base of Ferguson Ridge.
The race start is free and open to the public.
Another great vantage point is the Salt Creek Summit Sno-Park. The racers start coming through this first checkpoint about an hour after they start. This area requires a sno-park permit.