Mush in the Slush: 2018 Eagle Cap Extreme filled with challenges, fun

The rain didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the dogs, but the mushers didn’t do as well.
Kathleen Ellyn

Wallowa County Chieftain

Published on January 24, 2018 1:38PM

200-mile race winner Miriam Osredkar of Fairfield, Montana, shares her Alaskan Huskies with enthusiastic children at the Joseph vet check on Wednesday morning. Osredkar and her 12-dog team won the 200-mile race in a time of 32 hours and 44 minutes.

200-mile race winner Miriam Osredkar of Fairfield, Montana, shares her Alaskan Huskies with enthusiastic children at the Joseph vet check on Wednesday morning. Osredkar and her 12-dog team won the 200-mile race in a time of 32 hours and 44 minutes.

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Morgan Anderson of Enterprise guides her six-dog team toward the Salt Creek Summit check point in the first leg of the 31-mile, two-day race. Anderson finished third overall, with a time of 7 hours, 44 minutes for the two 31-mile courses.

Morgan Anderson of Enterprise guides her six-dog team toward the Salt Creek Summit check point in the first leg of the 31-mile, two-day race. Anderson finished third overall, with a time of 7 hours, 44 minutes for the two 31-mile courses.

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Hugo Antonucci, of  Adin, Calif., draws bib no. 12 in the 100-mile race at the Community Potluck dinner Wednesday night.

Hugo Antonucci, of Adin, Calif., draws bib no. 12 in the 100-mile race at the Community Potluck dinner Wednesday night.

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Dina Lund of Okanogan, Wash., starts in the second leg of the 31-mile, two-day race. Lund finished second with a total time of 7 hours, 39 minutes.

Dina Lund of Okanogan, Wash., starts in the second leg of the 31-mile, two-day race. Lund finished second with a total time of 7 hours, 39 minutes.

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Troy Nave congratulates one of Jane Devlin’s Huskies for winning the 31-mile, two day race.  Nave is the Public Relations director for the Eagle Cap Extreme, and one of the 165 volunteers who work to make the annual event a success.

Troy Nave congratulates one of Jane Devlin’s Huskies for winning the 31-mile, two day race. Nave is the Public Relations director for the Eagle Cap Extreme, and one of the 165 volunteers who work to make the annual event a success.

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Trevor Warren’s 14-month-old Alaskan Husky, Neptune, is snow-covered but still enthusiastic after winning the 100-mile race. Warren’s team of mostly young, unseasoned dogs,  finished in a fast  time of 20 hours, six minutes.

Trevor Warren’s 14-month-old Alaskan Husky, Neptune, is snow-covered but still enthusiastic after winning the 100-mile race. Warren’s team of mostly young, unseasoned dogs, finished in a fast time of 20 hours, six minutes.

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Larry Roxby of Cle Elm, Wash., starts his six-dog team in the second leg of the 31-mile two day race. Roxby finished fourth with a total time for the two 31-mile legs of 8 hours and 10 minutes.

Larry Roxby of Cle Elm, Wash., starts his six-dog team in the second leg of the 31-mile two day race. Roxby finished fourth with a total time for the two 31-mile legs of 8 hours and 10 minutes.

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Musher Josi Thyr, of Catalda, Idaho, shares information about sled dogs and mushing with students in the Enterprise 1st, 4th, and 5-6th grades, and the K-8 program at Enterprise SDA Christian School. Education and involvement of students in Wallowa County, La Grande, and Elgin is an important component of the event. Thyr  and her 12-dog Alaskan Husky team finished fourth in the demanding 200-mile race.

Musher Josi Thyr, of Catalda, Idaho, shares information about sled dogs and mushing with students in the Enterprise 1st, 4th, and 5-6th grades, and the K-8 program at Enterprise SDA Christian School. Education and involvement of students in Wallowa County, La Grande, and Elgin is an important component of the event. Thyr and her 12-dog Alaskan Husky team finished fourth in the demanding 200-mile race.

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Racers Miriam Osredkar and Brett Bruggerman, both from Montana, combined their teams into one truck and trailer for the ride to Wallowa County. They finished and second, respectively, in the grueling 200 mile race.

Racers Miriam Osredkar and Brett Bruggerman, both from Montana, combined their teams into one truck and trailer for the ride to Wallowa County. They finished and second, respectively, in the grueling 200 mile race.

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Dr. Jereld Rice, veterinarian at the Enterprise Veterinary Hospital, starts his 200-mile race with his 12-dog team. It was the first-ever sled dog race. Rice finished with a time of  47 hours, one minute, good for the Red Lantern award for the last, plucky finisher. He plans to be back next year.

Dr. Jereld Rice, veterinarian at the Enterprise Veterinary Hospital, starts his 200-mile race with his 12-dog team. It was the first-ever sled dog race. Rice finished with a time of 47 hours, one minute, good for the Red Lantern award for the last, plucky finisher. He plans to be back next year.

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The weather did not cooperate for the start of the Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog race. Rain poured down all day Thursday and into the night. The rain on packed snow at lower elevations turned the precious three inches of white stuff into slush and ice, neither great for sledding.

Wallowa County was represented by three mushers this year, but Susan Parraga, scheduled to run the 2 day 31-miles-per-day Pot Race with her purebred Siberian Huskies, scratched on Thursday morning.

“It was not worth getting sick or hurt,” she said.

Wallowa County’s other two competitors accepted the challenge. Morgan Anderson, graduating from the youth division to run the Pot Race and veterinarian Jereld Rice, who was running his first-ever race in the 200, made it through.

Rice was last in the 200 and Anderson third in the Pot Race, alive and experienced and glad to have run.

Jane Devlin of Bend, known for singing to her dogs, apparently knew the right tune and slushed on to win the Pot Race in 7 hours and 9 minutes.

“I guess there’s a reason I keep coming back,” she said. “Thursday was dirt, rocks, ice and a little bit of snow. But the thing about this race is they keep it safe. Here, it’s dogs first, its one of those races where they really get it right. Friday was a whole different race, the dogs were happy. I’ll be back, always.”

The rain didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the dogs, but the mushers didn’t do as well. Most went through all of their clothing changes at some point and often mushed in freezing weather in soaked clothing.

Several of the mushers had just gotten out of bed from bouts with the flu.

The rain continued to fall on the mushers and dogs all the way to Ollokot, the 50-mile checkpoint, and mushers checking in for a possible night of rest were thinking twice.

“I looked around at all the slush and asked the dogs, ‘do you want to try and sleep in this?’” said two-time 200-mile winner Brett Bruggeman of Great Falls, Mont. “And they were willing to keep going so we mushed on.”

Hugo Antonucci of Adin, Calif., didn’t have an option.

“The dogs were fine, but the sled was broken,” he said.

Broken in three places, and side to side, as it turned out. He had to scratch.

“This probably just means I’ll have to come back next year,” he said with a grin.

Race veteran Josi Thyr of Catlado, Idaho, came a cropper at Ollokot as well, sliding on the ice into a tree. “It was raining and the dogs took off and wanted to visit the tree,” she said.

That tree is now officially named “The Tree of Doom.” But Thyr was able to mush on thanks to the surgical application of a packet of zip ties, which held the sled together for another 150 miles.

Iditarod veteran and the winner of this year’s 200-mile race, Miriam Osredkar of Fairfield, Mont., was getting a taste of her first Eagle Cap and learned why it was called the toughest pre-Iditarod race. Her legs, she said, were conditioned now.

“There are no hills like this at Iditarod at all,” she said.

Trevor Warren of Council, Idaho, ran and won his first 100 at Eagle Cap in 20:06 and was on a musher’s high the entire distance. Five of his eight dogs were puppies (18 months and younger) and it was their first race as well.

“My puppies did awesome!” he gushed. “They are some of the best dogs I’ve every run.”

Dr. Kathleen McGill and her team awarded the coveted “Best Cared for Team” awards to Bino Fowler of Bend, Ore., for the 100-mile race and Laurie Warren of Council, Idaho, for the 200-mile race.

Clayton Perry won the “Sportsmanship Award” for sacrificing his bid for a higher placing to hang back with novice Rice.

Rice literally got out of his sick bed after five days of debilitating flu to complete the race and that alone gave him his bona fides as a musher. It gave his wife Alina some bona fides as well.

“Alina didn’t have any idea we’d be doing this when we got married,” Rice said. “She was my handler –– and we’re still married. I was sick, sick, sick in advance of the race, and Alina took over the logistics.”

In a move typical of the community spirit of mushers, Perry decided to support Rice’s bid, sticking with Rice to the end of the course.

“This is all about friendship,” Perry said, when accepting his award. “I only do this for the community and the people.”

Rice and Connie Star of Cle Elum, Wash., took home the Red Lantern Awards for their divisions, an award reserved for those who refuse to give up. The tradition is based on the practice of “leaving a light burning” for the mushers still out on the trail after most others have come in. Star was already thinking positively about next year’s race and wanted to make sure the next last place finisher was properly honored. She turned her lantern back in to “make sure there was an award for the following year.”

The final tally of racers was 18.

EAGLE CAP EXTREME PHOTOS BY ELLEN MORRIS BISHOP

THE RESULTS

200-mile race (time at Ollokot and finish)

• Miriam Osredkar, mushing a Skinny Legs Sleddogs team owned by the Bruggemans, 18:21, 32.44 hours.

• Brett Bruggeman, who fielded three teams this year, came into Ollokot a minute earlier than Osredkar at 10.20 and finished his race just three seconds behind her with 32.47.

• Laurie Warren, 17:50, took third with a total time of 33:44.

• Josi Thyr, 18:11 and finished in 35:35.

• James Pilcher, running another Skinny Legs Sleddogs team, 18:22 and was seconds behind Thyr at the finish 35:35:053.

• Clayton Perry, 18:29, 41:01.

• Jereld Rice 18:52, 47:01.

100-mile race (time at Ollokot and finish)

• Trevor Warren 18:40, 20:06.

• Gave Dunham, who Warren credited with “keeping him competitive,” beat Warren into Ollokot in 18:36 and finished with a time of 20:27.

• Bino Fowler, 19:35, 22:36.

• Rex Mumford, 19:21, 23:21.

• Christina Gibson, 19:24, 26:39.

• Connie Star 21:32, 31.24.

• Hugo Antonucci scratched at Ollokot after coming in with broken sled in 19:34.

2 Day – 31 miles each day – Pot Race

• Jane Devlin ran Thursday to finish in 16:32. She completed the race Friday for a total time of 7:09.

• Dina Lund ran Thursday in 16:46 and finished in 7:39.

• Morgan Anderson ran Thursday in 16:38 and finished in 7:44.

• Larry Roxby ran Thursday in 16:37 and finished in 8:10.



















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