Extreme Sled Dog races return

January 18, 2013 08:42 am

Laura Daugereau returns this year to race the 200-mile Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog course starting Jan. 24.
Laura Daugereau returns this year to race the 200-mile Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog course starting Jan. 24.

By Katy Nesbitt / The Observer

The conditions are perfect for the ninth running of the Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Races starting Jan. 24 at Ferguson Ridge Ski Area. Daytime highs in the 30s and overnights in the teens should make for a fast course coupled with the best snow pack in years.

Several racers are returning for this year’s race which should make it exciting and the competition fierce. Some returning racers are Iditarod and Eagle Cap Extreme veterans like 200-mile racers Karen Ramstead of Alberta, Laura Daugereau of Kingston, Wash., the first woman from her state to finish the Iditarod, and Steve Riggs of Olney, Mont. 

Joining them are Josi Thyr of Cataldo, Idaho, Jillian Taylor of Red Deer, Alberta, Ed Stielstra of McMillan, Mich., and Chris Miller of Gardenerville, Nev.

Troy Nave, public relations coordinator for the races, said this year had the most 200-mile racers signed up by early January with seven on the roster.

So far, the 100-mile racers are Butch Parr of Whitefish, Mont., Roy Etnire of Seeley Lake, Mont. Jackie Wepruk of British Columbia, and Angelique Ram of Pleasanton, Calif.

Nave pointed out that the races, though not the longest Iditarod qualifiers, are some of the most challenging with the 200-mile course gaining and losing 26,000 feet. 

The two-day, 200-mile race starts along with the 100-mile race and the first leg of the 62-mile race on Thursday at 1 p.m., but the teams won’t return until Saturday with mandatory lay-overs in mountain camps run by volunteers.

Come early to catch a shuttle from the parking area to race start and along the course to cheer on the teams as they leave the chute. Merchandise and concession sales will be provided at Ferguson Ridge’s lodge.

Last year the Eagle Cap Extreme hosted a 31-mile sprint race for new mushers and dog handlers who wanted to run inexperienced dogs. This year the course is doubled to 62 miles.

“This way inexperienced dogs or independent mushers get a sense of the event without committing to the rigors of the 100 or 200-mile courses,” said Nave.

The race awards 50 percent of the pot to the first-place finisher, 30 percent to third, and 20 percent to fourth place, said Nave. So far only Steve Taylor of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta and and Rick Austin of British Columbia have registered. Nave said he anticipates more sprint racers to sign up.

The 62-mile race teams have six dogs, whereas the 100-mile teams have eight, and the 200-mile mushers have 12 dog teams, said Nave.

More than 100 volunteers run the Eagle Cap Extreme Races, said Nave, from setting up the Ollocot Camp high in the mountains above the Imnaha River, to preparing the race’s start, and staffing race headquarters at the Joseph Community Center.

The vet checks are Wednesday in Enterprise at 9 a.m. on Main St. and in Joseph at 1 p.m on Main Street.

Eagle Cap Extreme Race Central is staged at the Joseph Community Center and will be open Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (closed during race start at 1 p.m. Thursday), and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The latest race updates, sled dogs and musher information, hot drinks and a kids’ corner are some of the amenities.

On Wednesday night the musher potluck and program starts at 6:30 p.m. when rackers will draw for their bib numbers. This is a great time to get to know the racers. Please bring a dish to share.

The final event of the week is the awards banquet and dinner, Saturday Jan. 26, 5:30 p.m. at the Joseph Community Center. Tickets are $20 for general public, $18 for members, $12 for volunteers and handlers, children 5-12 are $8 and under five years old are free.