Daugereau rides to second straight Eagle Cap win
Laura Daugereau of Stockett, Mont., returned with her team of Alaskan Huskies for a two-peat — winning the 200-mile race for the second year in a row and breaking the course record in a time of 33 hours, 43 minutes — barely edging out Brett Bruggeman of Great Falls, Mont., who finished second in 33 hours, 52 minutes.
Josi Thyr of Cataldo, Idaho, another Eagle Cap Extreme veteran, finished third and also broke the course record along with Daugereau and Bruggeman with a time of 34 hours, 51 minutes.
Organizers mapped a new route this year, in compliance with musher feedback that the repeated returns to Ollokot made the dogs slow down because they think the end of the race is near. Due to lack of snow, the original route was used once again.
Randy Greenshields, Eagle Cap Extreme president, said the weekend event went well.
“It just keeps getting better and better,” he said.
This year had the second highest team turnout with a total of 19. Not only were conditions fast and the field full, but the competition was fierce, and not only in the 200-mile race.
“This year had easily the most competitive field in the 100-mile race,” said Troy Nave, Eagle Cap Extreme public relations coordinator.
Two former champions entered the race as well as last year’s runner up and this year’s winner, Roy Etnire of Seeley Lake, Mont.
“It was anyone’s race from the get-go,” Nave said.
Greenshields said the course conditions were a little hot and sunny, making for fast trails and fast running.
“All the mushers had great attitudes and were happy with the work of the volunteers,” Greenshields said.
Daugereau said last year it rained during the race and this year the sun was beating down. To help her dogs beat the heat she found a creek along the trail.
“The third leg was really hot,” she said. “I stopped and had the dogs line out. Some of them even laid down,” Daugereau said.
She said she filled up a three-gallon bucket with water for the rest of race and stopped for short snack and water breaks with Bruggeman fast on her heels.
“I couldn’t get rid of him,” she said.
Though the course was fast, Daugereau said the conditions were challenging for her dogs who are used to slush or deep snow.
“The dogs weren’t working as much. They weren’t having to pull as hard, so I had to use a drag mat to give them a little extra to pull against,” she said.
She said she dropped a couple heat-sensitive dogs off at Ollokot and was behind Bruggeman when she left the layover site.
“I caught and passed him after about 13 miles,” Daugereau said. “I was hoping I’d be able to leave him, but he was behind me the whole 50-mile leg. I was constantly looking over my shoulder.”
Etnire, last year’s second-place 100-mile race finisher, won in a time of 15 hours, 11 minutes, edging out longtime Eagle Cap Extreme racer Bino Fowler, who finished second in 15 hours, 30 minutes. Steve Riggs of Olney, Mont., another race veteran, finished third in 16 hours, 21 minutes.
Etnire said this year’s course conditions were great.
“It was very fast, not icy where it was dangerous, but a very, very fast trail — and not a beginner’s trail,” he said. “Mushers with only a little experience should not run this one.”
The winner of the two-day, 64-mile pot race was Jennifer Campeau of Okotoks, Alberta. This was her first race. Her husband, Jason, took up racing last year and finished fourth in the 200-mile course in 37:25.