ENTERPRISE, OREGON__Sled Dogs and their mushers arrive in Northeast Oregon this week for the 10th annual running of the Eagle Cap Extreme sled dog race.
Nineteen mushers and their teams will participate in this year’s race, two shy of the largest field in race history. Laura Daugereau, reigning champion of the 200-mile race, returns to defend her title against six other teams. She will face stiff competition from an experienced field of mushers, two of whom are using the Eagle Cap Extreme as qualifiers for the world’s two biggest mushing events: Brett Bruggeman of Great Falls, Montana hopes to qualify for the Iditarod; Rick Katucki of Eagle, Idaho will qualify for the Yukon Quest. Josi Thyr, last year’s best-kept team award winner, will also keep the pressure on Daugereau.
The 100-mile field features ECX veteran and two-time 100-mile champion Bino Fowler. Most of the 100-mile field are either ECX rookies or are bumping up their team size and distance from the 31-mile pot race. Last year’s runner up, Roy Etnire will also be in the chase.
The two-stage, 31-mile pot race will be run for the third consecutive year. Three mushers will compete in the event, including Susan Parraga, the first local musher to enter the Eagle Cap Extreme. “We have a strong, diverse field of mushers this year,” says mushing coordinator and ECX president Randy Greenshields. “It’s a good mix of ECX veterans, mushers hoping to qualify for the Iditarod and Quest, and rookies. And we’re thrilled to have a local musher for the first time.”
The course has plenty of snow coverage despite recent warm temperatures and little winter snowfall. “All reports from the trail indicate that the snow is holding up well. We are fortunate that the race course elevation is high enough to hold snow, even if things in town are pretty dry,” says ECX public relations coordinator Troy Nave.
This year’s race features several events and activities throughout the week for race fans. The Joseph Community Center will be transformed into ECX Race Central, where the public can see mushing displays, buy merchandise, get up to the minute race standings, and take part in several children’s educational activities. Race Central is open Wednesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the exception of Thursday, when it closes at noon.
Race activities kick off on Wednesday with pre-race veterinary check ups in downtown Joseph and Enterprise. The Joseph “vet check” begins at 9 a.m. on Main Street, followed at 10:30 by a question-and-answer session with one of the mushers. At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, the vet check begins near the courthouse in downtown Enterprise, followed at 2 p.m. by another question-and-answer session. Wednesday is capped off by a community potluck at Joseph Community Center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free with a potluck dish to share.
The race start takes place at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Ferguson Ridge Ski Hill. Spectators need to arrive early, and will use a shuttle system to go from the end of Tucker Down road to the ski hill. All three events – the 12-dog 200-mile Iditarod and Yukon Quest qualifier, the 8-dog 100-miler, and the 6-dog 31-mile pot race – start at Ferguson Ridge ski hill. Spectators are reminded to leave their pets at home.
Early Friday morning the 100-mile finishers will begin arriving at Ferguson Ridge. Early that afternoon, the second stage of the 31-mile pot race begins. Pot race mushers return to Fergi in the early evening.
Early Saturday the first 200-mile finishers will arrive back at Fergi, with the last mushers typically coming in around noon. Eagle Cap Extreme festivities culminate in the Musher’s Awards Banquet, beginning at 5:30 PM at Joseph Community Center. All events accept the awards banquet are free to spectators. For more information and up to the minute race standings, visit www.eaglecapextreme.com
The ECX operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and is put on with the help of 150 volunteers, and is supported by over 100 local businesses and individuals.
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