While the mushers were out mushing and outdoor enthusiasts were trailside, many people wishing to follow last week’s Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race were able to do so from the comfort of home or at Race Central at the Clover Leaf Hall in Enterprise via VHF or amateur radio thanks to the communications team working the race.
“We get better at it every year,” said Julian Pridmore-Brown, a race vice president who is in charge of safety and communications. This is his 11th year working the ECX.
With the technology available, listeners were able to hear what sounded much like a police scanner giving updates on musher positions, snowmobile needs such as fuel and, of course, any injuries that needed attending to.
“No. 1 is safety,” Pridmore-Brown said. “We want to keep track of where everyone is.”
Dan Smith, another volunteer working on the communications team, said they developed much of the computer equipment used just for the ECX – both hardware and software.
Online, race enthusiasts could view a map showing the course that showed each musher’s position thanks to trackers on each of them.
“People can see on the map where the mushers are in real time,” Smith said.
Pridmore-Brown said they tried a variety of types of communication, including cell phones and satellite phones, but given the mountainous terrain of the 200-mile race course through Wallowa County, such technology was only spotty at best.
“In the canyons, the signal drops off really quick,” he said.
They did have voice and data links allowing emails to be sent, Pridmore-Brown said.
The comm team were eager to provide information detailing the race progress to as many as possible, he said.
“We’re making available all race communications to the public.”