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Frosted Fur: Race to the Sky competitors care for their canine counterparts

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Frosted Fur: Race to the Sky competitors care for their canine counterparts

Not only do the mushers of the Race to the Sky battle each other, but they battle the sometimes inhospitable elements they race in. Conditions for this year's race have been cold with temperatures well below zero at night and this means care for the dogs is paramount. The intimacy of the teams' relationship is on full display as the mushers and handlers go to extreme lengths to ensure the comfort and performance of their canine athletes. 

2018 Race to the Sky

Musher Miriam Osredkar pulls a blanket over one of her dogs at the White Tail Ranch checkpoint on Saturday night.

2018 Race to the Sky

A volunteer helps a musher lead their dogs to one of the rest spots at White Tail Ranch.

2018 Race to the Sky

300-mile musher Damon Ramaker portions out what he calls "mystery meat" for his dogs late Saturday night at checkpoint one.

2018 Race to the Sky

Musher Roy Etnire rests after a meal inside the White Tail Ranch checkpoint Saturday night. The 100-mile race participants are required to take a six hour break after their first 50 miles. "[The rest] is for the dogs," Etnire laughed. "They don't care about us. They treat the dogs better than us."

The White Tail ranch is the first checkpoint of the race, roughly 50 miles from the start. The 300-mile teams are not required to rest here at the start, but are required to take a six-hour rest here on their way back to the finish line.

2018 Race to the Sky

Race spectators and officials keep warm around a fire while waiting for mushers to arrive at the White Tail Ranch checkpoint on Saturday night. The ranch is the first of three checkpoints along the 300-mile course.

2018 Race to the Sky

Musher Clayton Perry tends to one of his sleddogs at the White Tail Ranch checkpoint on Saturday night after completing the first 50-mile stretch of the 100-mile race. Mushers affectionately look after their dogs at each checkpoint as the dogs rest, providing them with straw beds, blankets and food and water.

Clayton Perry was awarded Best Cared for Team Award presented by Head Veterinarian Kathy Topham for his  "excellent dog care throughout the race."

2018 Race to the Sky

300-mile musher Damon Ramaker lays down a layer of hay bedding for his dogs late Saturday night at checkpoint one.

2018 Race to the Sky

Musher Brett Bruggeman (right) fastens a bail of straw bedding for his dogs onto his sled bag with the help of a race marshall during a quick stop at the Seeley Lake checkpoint, 100 miles into the race. 300-mile race competitors are only required to stop for a total of four hours throughout their whole race, and if they choose not to stop, they can pick up materials to care for their dogs with from checkpoints and take them on the trail.

2018 Race to the Sky

One of the mushers brings food to their dogs.

2018 Race to the Sky

A dog drinks some water during its rest period.

2018 Race to the Sky

A handler assists a musher as his team makes its way into checkpoint one late Saturday night.

2018 Race to the Sky

A 300-mile musher, left, signs off on his sled check before dawn on Sunday morning at checkpoint two. The check included adding additional supplies for his dogs like food and hay bedding.

2018 Race to the Sky

Team members and volunteers assist a 300-mile musher before dawn on Sunday morning at checkpoint two in Seeley Lake.

2018 Race to the Sky

A musher passes checkpoint one at the White Tail Ranch late Saturday night, 50 miles from the start of the race. While most mushers took this opportunity to tend to their dogs and take short naps, some teams continued straight through the checkpoint.

2018 Race to the Sky

Race marshalls gather around a cell phone to track the location of the mushers. Each musher has a GPS tacker attached to his or her sled so that officials can ensure their safety and prepare to assist them when the mushers arrive at checkpoints.

2018 Race to the Sky

A frosty sled dog waits to be loaded into his team's truck after finishing the 100-mile race early Sunday morning.

2018 Race to the Sky

One of the dogs waits for its post race check up.

2018 Race to the Sky

Sled dogs from a 100-mile team wait to be loaded into trucks after finishing the race early Sunday morning.

For more work by Reed Klass, Lacey Young and Liam Keshishian visit their websites:

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