Final Preparations for the Eagle Cap Extreme Taking Place in NE Oregon.
ENTERPRISE, OREGON__A strong field of two dozen mushers has registered for the Eagle Cap Extreme sled dog race, to take place January 18 – 21 in Wallowa County. This winter’s combination of cold temperatures and abundant snowfall have ECX race organizers in excellent shape for the thirteenth annual running of the event.
“Even the slight warming we had earlier this week is good for trail conditions,” explains ECX public relations director, Troy Nave. “Trail crews and the Snowmobile Club groomer will have an easier time compacting the snow now that it’s warmer, making for a good running surface. Now we’re keeping fingers crossed for cool temperatures during the race.”
This year’s ECX features four races, beginning with the 200-mile, twelve-dog main event, an Iditarod and Yukon Quest qualifier. Then comes the 100-mile, 8-dog race, followed by the 31-mile, six-dog pot race (two stages: one on Thursday, one on Friday), and the 22-mile Juniors race (Thursday start, immediately following the start of the Pot Race). The racing begins at noon on Thursday, January 19, at Ferguson Ridge Ski Hill outside of Joseph.
Most of the field of twenty-four mushers are Eagle Cap Extreme veterans, with a handful of rookies sprinkled in. Among the rookies is Christina Gibson of Riverside, Washington. Christina is fifteen years old, and will be racing in the Juniors event on Thursday. “Someday I hope to run in the Iditarod,” said Gibson. Some of the returning mushers include the defending champions from each of the three events run last year. Jane Devlin of Bend, Oregon, will defend her Pot Race title; 100-mile champ Laurie Warren of Council, Idaho, will run the 200-miler this year; and two-time defending 200-mile champion Brett Bruggeman of Great Falls, Montana, returns to attempt an unprecedented third consecutive title.
“This is my favorite mushing event,” says Bruggeman. Since coming in a close second place to Laura Daugereau three years ago, Bruggeman has torched the 200-mile field the past two years. Bruggeman has outpaced some highly competitive fields of mushers, including several Iditarod veterans. This year three of the ten mushers chasing him in the 200-miler are Iditarod veterans: Scott White, in his third ECX race; Mark Stamm, racing his fourth ECX race; and Alberta’s Jason Campeau, racing the ECX for the third time.
Race officials have also been determined. Dona Miller of Seeley Lake, Montana, returns as the Race Marshal. Miller has a long history of mushing and working with the Eagle Cap Extreme, first as a Race Judge and now as the Marshall. This year’s Head Veterinarian is Kathleen McGill, a former lead veterinarian for the Yukon Quest and several mid-distance races in the lower 48 states. Cari Hinesly and Michael Moore return as head timers.
Spectators are reminded to arrive plenty early to the 12 noon race start at Ferguson Ridge on Thursday. Plan on parking in the designated parking lot, then shuttling via free bus to the race start. Please leave all pets at home.
The Eagle Cap Extreme operates as a 501(c)3 non-profit, with the help of over 150 volunteers. For more information, visit the Eagle Cap Extreme web page at www.eaglecapextreme.com, and follow the ECX on Facebook.
Photo: Two-time defending 200-mile champ Brett Bruggeman, Great Falls, MT, is trying for an unprecedented 3rd consecutive win in 2017.
NOTE: This article was updated Monday, January 16.