BONDURANT – After two days of racing in the Pedigree Stage Stop Race, musher Alix Crittenden of Bondurant said racing on her home turf where she trains is both an advantage and a curse.
Overall after two days she sits in third place, behind last year’s overall winner Lina Streeper. Stage 3 of the race was canceled Monday at Middle Piney Creek due to deteriorating trail conditions, but plans were to resume Tuesday as scheduled for the Pinedale stage.
During a post-race opportunity to meet the mushers, hosted at the Marble Senior Center, Crittenden said she has an advantage, because this is where she practices.
“The dogs know the trails and know where the truck is parked,” she said.
This is her second year running the race, finishing eighth overall in 2017. In 2016, she ran the shorter eight-dog race.
“It’s kind of negative; you don’t want to run your race as a practice run,” Crittenden said.
For her, preparing for this race began last spring when she started training the dogs after a couple months break from the winter before. In the summer she rides a four-wheeler and lets the dogs run free. When there is enough snow she puts them in a harness and starts with short treks, working up to the 50 miles needed for the race.
JR Anderson, who sat in seventh out of the gates Tuesday, said the race near Alpine Sunday was a mixed bag with snow on one side; then over the mountain mushers were greeted with warm weather.
A native Minnesotan, Anderson has dedicated more than 20 years to the sport of endurance canines.
Crittenden said the conditions seemed to her to be slow compared to similar runs she’s had for practice, but in the end her time was in the top three. Alix and husband Sam own and operate Sleeping Indian Outfitters in Bondurant where they guide horseback, fishing, and hunting trips.
She started doing guided sled dog tours for tourists with Jackson Hole Iditarod, but prefers racing. “It’s addicting,” she said.
Dennis Laboda, in eighth place, is from Minnesota. He said overcoming the altitude is his biggest challenge. He arrived a week early and trained with his dogs in the
Dubois area to prepare for the race. Laboda has traveled all around the world, raced in North and South America and been a race official in Europe.
The winner of the Eukanuba 8-dog race was Monica Magnusson, who led from day 1 with a time of 2:05.17. She finished second on day 2, only 23 seconds behind Liz Roberts. Her cumulative time of 4:26:13 for the two legs of the race beat out Roberts who had a combined time of 4:27.32.
Meanwhile her husband Bruce Magnusson sits in second place between Streeper and Crittenden in the Pedigree race. Only 7 minutes separate the top three racers with five days of racing remaining.
Sled dog race schedule
To learn more:
Sled dog races start continue
Tuesday, Stage 4 Jan. 30 – Pinedale
9 a.m.: Race starts at the Upper Green River Trail Head, Cora, at the end of Hwy 352. Kendall Valley Lodge serves breakfast and lunch specials; west of Upper Green parking lot.
Tuesday, Jan. 30 – Lander
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Meet the teams downtown Lander. Lander Bake Shop, 259 Main St., Lander, hosting the 2017 Pedigree Stage Stop Movie.
Wednesday, Stage 5 Jan. 31 – Lander
9 a.m. Race starts at Louis Lake parking lot on top of South Pass Highway 28.
Friday, Stage 6 Feb. 2 – Driggs, Idaho.
9 a.m. Race starts at Kay Dairy Trail Head, 8.5 miles from Highwayy 33 on 4000 N.
Parking at the start/finish location is limited. Free buses will depart at the Driggs Transit Center behind the Community Center, 60 S Main, every 30 minutes and return every 30 minutes 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday, Stage 6 Feb. 2 – Driggs, Idaho.
2 p.m. Community meet and greet in town – two locations from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m; parking at 60 S. Main St. and overflow at 300 S. Main St.
Saturday, Stage 7 Feb. 3 – Teton County
9 a.m. Race starts
Final banquet – Center for the Arts, 2nd floor, 240 South Glenwood Street, Jackson.
6 p.m. dinner starts; doors open at 5 p.m.; dinner catered by Sweet Cheeks Meats.