This year brings an unusual mix of 13 teams to the race; the ages of the mushers span almost 3 generations from Jillian Taylor at 19, to Laura Crockerat 74. The sexes are lopsided in an opposite way too, with the gals outnumbering the guys more than 2-to-1.
We have four Canadian teams and six teams from the Northwestern US, a Californian and a Nevadan. Race veteran Steve Riggs returns again this year and we have eight mushers running the ECX for their first time. There are 5 teams running both the 100 and 200, with just three in pot race.
The 200 mile has Laura Daugereau returning this year with her A-Team, after having completed the 200 last year in respectable time with pups. As Billy Snodgrass (the reining champion of the ECX) says, "Laura's the one I've got my eye on."
"At 29 years old I have more adventures under my belt then most have in a lifetime. I first became interested in sled dogs at the age of eleven while living in Leavenworth, WA, an outdoor paradise. With support from two of the best parents in the world, I started pursuing a deeper knowledge in the sport of dog sledding. When I turned thirteen my dad took me to a mushers' symposium in Fairbanks, AK where the "top dogs" of the sport run, to see if dog sledding was really something I wanted to get myself into.
While in Fairbanks I got the opportunity to run a small team of four-time Iditarod champion, Susan Butcher's dogs. Needless to say, I was hooked from then on. At the age of fourteen, with school books in tow, I began spending my winters in North Pole, AK. I became a "kennel hand" also known as a "handler" for Rusty Hagan and began obtaining my own kennel bloodlines. As time-demanding as mushing is, I skillfully balanced the hours spent with my dogs with the hours spent in the books, allowing me to successfully graduate with a 4.0 GPA. By the time I graduated from high school I had built, bred, raised, trained, and raced my own kennel of 26 dogs.
From the age of thirteen I have worked for my family's business doing construction, home maintenance and remodeling in order to support my love of mushing. Working with my father in the off-season has become especially important to me as my hobby turned into a profession requiring me to leave home each winter. In addition to dog sledding, some of my other loves include playing drums, riding and tinkering with my motorcycle, working on my live-in tree house, and enjoying God's great playground."
200 Mile Race
Chris Miller began his mushing adventure by starting a touring business at one of the local resorts near Lake Tahoe. He progressed to sprint racing and now has ventured into distance racing.
Miller describes his mushing highlight as taking his family out on the trail to experience the thrill of a well trained team. His goal is to finish the ECX 200 with a solid, healthy team and finish this season being able to call it a great year. He also wants to create a 2 year plan.
On his first day of racing, Miller pulled into a McDonalds drive thru with George Strait cranked up on his stereo. He completely forgot he had his sled on top of his rig. He says it goes without saying his sled is now a "low rider."
Miller recalls another embarrassing moment when training a 16 dog team with an ATV, his "crazy" wheel dogs chewed through the rope lines, leaving two dogs with him and the sled and fourteen running away!
Karen Ramstead, 48, was born in Toronto, Ontario and raised in Alberta. She began running dogs in the early 90's after obtaining her first Siberian husky which her husband offered to buy her if she agreed to move to Alberta. She and Mark moved to Perryvale in 1998 for Mark's job and so Karen could run dogs full time. She became interested in running the Iditarod after reading Libby Riddles' book Race Across Alaska. She's run ten Iditarods and numerous mid-distance races. She says, "This is just a part of who I am. I love this race….Our love for the breed has continued to grow, and we now share our lives with over 60 purebred Siberian Huskies. Our team has set many 'firsts' for Canada - we are the first CKC registered team of Siberian Huskies to compete in and complete the Iditarod and many of our dogs are Canadian Kennel Club champions and group placers. I am continually inspired by the history, spirit, and presence of the purebred Siberian Husky."
Ramstead lists running the Iditarods and races across Canada and the US as well as traveling to South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia to race marshal mushing events are her mushing career highlights. Her most embarrassing mushing moment...being the only Iditarod musher to have endured frost bite on her stomach!
Jillian Taylor has been running dogs her entire life. Her dad, Steve, competed in sprint races in the 80s, and her family operated a tour company for 14 years. Personally she has been competing in mid-distance races for 6 years.
Her mushing highlight has been raising puppies and working with them as they develop into mature members of the team. She especially loves running at night by the light of a full moon after a snowfall.
Taylor hopes to continue to build a mid-distance team, gain more experience, and compete in more races.
Favorite Quote: "Try to be the person your dog thinks you are"
Josi, 19, is the second oldest of five kids in her family. She was homeschooled and worked for her dad in his insurance business. In her spare time she writes and is a published author. She also enjoys cooking - especially gourmet cheesecake. But, of course, much of her time is spent caring for and training her dogs. Josi's mushing career began when she was 9 and her dad bought her a Siberian Husky, her "dream dog." For exercise, they hooked the dog up so he could pull her around on her rollerblades. After a move to the country, the kennel was born. Her grandpa built all of her sleds for her. In 2012, Josi got the opportunity to handle dogs for Aaron Burmeister's Iditarod team, working with Scott Smith. It was her mushing highlight. Fueling her desire to run her own team in the Iditarod in 2015.
Thyr recounts the time when her team got away from her, and they ended up in a field belonging to her 4-H advisor's uncle. When she found out whose field it was, she had to "fess up."
"One of my most memorable dog sledding experiences was when we went out on an afternoon run. The dogs were really excited since they hadn't run the day before, so when my mom and I left the truck the dogs were going really fast. Moose frequent the trail, so as I was looking around for moose in a small river that runs next to the trail, I saw three elk were standing in a perfect line watching us. I wish I had a camera! They started running up stream and ran along side us for about ½ mile. I remember thinking if we had been on a snowmobile we would have missed the whole thing!"
Roy Etnire got hooked on sled dogs and racing when he agreed to kennel sit for friends and mushers, Steve Riggs and Wendy Arrota, while they went rafting.
Roy’s mushing highlight was placing 2nd at the 2012 Snow Dog Super Mush running a 6 dog team. He says his mushing goals are “to see his dogs perform at their best at every race and training run, enjoy every day of their lives, and become best musher I can be.”
100 Mile Race
In 1997, Liz started mushing with an Australian Shepherd, Norwegian Elkhound, and Beagle Mix. Then in 1998, Briar, her first husky and retired race leader, came into her life. She got a taste of what a “real” sled dog could do and was hooked.
Her mushing highlight was her 2008 Iditarod finish with 14 dogs. She credits her dogs with taking her places not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that she could have never gone on her own. Her goals include training dogs, learning from the dogs, and having fun!
At one of her first races she learned not to fall asleep during the drivers’ meeting. She missed the part about the trail splitting off to the right for the junior course about 100 yards out of the chute. The next day, In a blinding snowstorm, she barely noticed when her dogs headed off to the right. She did most of the junior loop before she realized her mistake and turned them around...right in front of all the spectators!
Liz recounts a dog training story: “On a training run, my leader, Gerry, would not run past my truck. He mutinied, stopped, and wouldn’t move on. He HATES water, so I grabbed my water bottle, and opened the mouth as I walked on the far side of my truck. When I got to the back of the truck where he was, he looked at me, and I tossed the water in his face. “Ewww! I’m melting!” He jumped away from the truck, ran over to where he was supposed to be, and refused to look at the truck or me! The art of dog training!”
Angelique is not only a rookie to our race, she’s brand new to mushing and is embracing the sport with all the excitement and enthusiasm of a new endeavor! Ram has three kids “who know their gee from their haw.” She was a school teacher and lived in Puerto Rico. She is now a self-proclaimed domestic diva and budding musher.
Originally from Southern California, mushing was not a lifelong dream. Following up on an interest in bikejoring to exercise her new dog, Ram stumbled on something called Urban Mushing. She signed up for a clinic in Napa run by musher Liz Parrish and was hooked! In March, she learned to harness a dog and in summer traveled to Alaska to learn more. She continues to build her own team and has plans to run the Beargrease, UP 200, Race to the Sky, and volunteer at the Iditarod.
Her mushing highlight was on a 16 dog, 20 mile night run in the sleet and hail. Only half mile from home a huge tree fell and blocked their path. The dogs jumped the tree but the sled was stuck against it. She called her mentor in a panic. It seemed like forever getting the team untangled and lifting dogs over the tree to get them turned back around in the freezing cold. She says it was the best time of her life because her leaders trusted her in stead of her mentors. “I bonded with them in a way that only a musher understands. That bond will never be broken. I was all alone with them. All we had was each other, and we did it! I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with any other team.
She recalls an embarrassing mushing moment. “I was just learning how to run a 16 dog team on the quad. I stopped to water the dogs and next thing I know they had pulled it into a swampy ravine/canal full of cow poo. I had to trudge waist high, through it with my leaders to get to a less steep side since the quad couldn’t make it out. I didn’t want to go in it, and neither did they! I smelled lovely for days! Lesson learned! The next time they tried to take off with the quad without me, I reacted and jumped on!”
The ECX is her first race. She says she hopes to finish strong and not embarrass herself!
Steve got started mushing when he found a used dog sled in the paper and bought it. He started with his two dogs but soon figured out he would need more dogs. Now he has a kennel of 41 Alaskan and Siberian Huskies.
His mushing highlight includes having a good showing in his first 200 mile race here at the Eagle Cap Extreme. He would like to move up to longer races in the future.
He lists his most embarrassing mushing moment as being when he broke his gangline up by the sled on a training run. The only way he could get home was to hang on to the gangline and ride on his butt while being pulled by ten dogs. Luckily the trail was covered with a thick blanket of snow!
Another funny, potentially embarrassing and even dangerous situation occurred at a race in Casper, Wyoming. A snowmobiler warned Steve about mules up ahead on the trail. He wasn't too worried until he came upon them and was attacked by a dozen large draft mules. There were kicking and stomping, but Steve and his team escaped unharmed!
Favorite Quote: "Never let go of the sled!"
In 1998, while looking for her next dog to train for obedience competition, Jackie visited Karen Ramstead’s Northwapiti Kennels. Karen gave Jackie and Rick each a 6 dog team to run, and Rick was hooked. Their kennel plans started in 1999. Initially, Rick raced the dogs. In 2010 in Elkford, two hours before the first race of the season Rick’s back gave out, and he couldn’t even walk. Their choice was to either go home or have Jackie run the team. She had never run a 12 dog team before except with a quad. She was terrified for the first few miles, but after that she was hooked. After that injury, Jackie took over training the team and became more serious about racing.
She doesn’t have an embarrassing story about mushing yet, but she says she has too many to mention in the obedience ring. Her goals for the future are to find time to keep running dogs and competing in mid-distance races. She says work gets in the way too often, but she loves her job.
Favorite Quote:“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” ~ Roger Caras
Kim’s interest in becoming a musher began when she read Winterdance and heard about Washington’s Cascade Quest Sled Dog Race from the foster mom of one of her rescued Siberian Huskies. Walking towards the race start, she heard the excited howls from the dogs and instantly knew she must mush!
Her mushing highlights are sleeping on the trail with her team under a beautiful, full moon in the historic mining town of Trinity during the 2010 Cascade Quest and driving the tag sled for Laura Daugereau during the 2009 Iditarod’s ceremonial start.
Bertrand’s mushing goals are focused on her dogs. She will continue to lead her team towards great adventures, fulfilling their desire to run as well as care for their needs with wisdom and experience while pursuing knowledge about dog health and various methods for enhancing their performance and lives. She also wants to encourage dog rescues.
Her first official training run this season started with Kim being amazed by her leaders not being distracted by a deer that ran right across the road in front of them and then, less than ten minutes later, being horrified watching them pull the team off the trail to “murder a suicidal raccoon.” She says, “They humble me like nothing else.”
62 Mile Race
Laura started with the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club and then became interested in mushing. She acquired dogs from Oregon and Minnesota. She bred her own dogs and has been developing a team from her pups.
She says the highlight of her mushing career was finishing several ECX 100 mile races and running the ECX 200.
Her most embarrassing moment? Having to scratch in the ECX 200 13 miles from the finish line.
When she started sledding, she “knew nothing” and had only rescue dogs. She had to run in front of them to get them to go. “We must have looked pretty silly,” she confesses.
In the future, the 74 year old musher would like to keep running her dogs.
Steve Taylor, 64, has been married to his wife, Carol, for nearly forty years! He got his start mushing in 1973 running a team of four dogs while working traplines. He competed in sprint races in the 1980s. After retiring from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1991, he ran 2-10 day sledding trips in the mountains for fourteen years. For the past six years, he and his daughter, Jillian, have been training for mid-distance races.
Taylor lists raising his own dogs and meeting great mushers and volunteers at mushing events over the years as his mushing highlights. His goal is to keep running dogs.
His most embarrassing mushing moment was the training run where his team ran away with his sled. Walking home, he found his dogs waiting for him in the yard.
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