Sunday, January 30, 2011


The International Pedigree Stage Stop Dog Sled Race came through Lander to much acclaim yesterday and began Day Two of racing from South Pass this morning. The race gets its name from the fact that participants get to spend each night enjoying some local hospitality as they follow a route running south along the spine of the Rockies from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Park City, Utah.

I have long been a fan of mushing. At nineteen years old in Montana (working on a cattle ranch outside Kalispell), I helped a local musher take his team on training runs. It was a huge adrenalin rush to try and hang onto the sled as a team of dogs tore through the woods at mock speed ahead of me. As you can imagine, I was never in control of where or how we traveled-- I was merely ballast on those early morning runs. Years later, I got to cheer on my co-worker and friend, Wendy Davis, as she schooled race after race with her team-- among other things winning this very competition in 2007.

In any case, it's a big deal around these parts to host the IPSSSDR. The sideline crowds are full of children and adults acting like kids in their enthusiasm, despite the cold. Racers hail from all over the world --mostly Canada and Scandinavia-- and handle their dynamic ensembles with astounding skill. Their dogs, for the most part, aren't the Huskie variety people generally associate with sled dog racing. They look more like strays-- lean and mean.

Pretty awesome stuff.

And so the Winter of Magic continues...

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