The first stage of the 25th Pedigree Stage Stop concluded at the trailhead of Greys River Road in Alpine Saturday afternoon, with familiar dog drivers at the front.
Defending champion Anny Malo, of Canada, won the first stage in 1 hour, 43 minutes and 59 seconds. Two-time champion Lina Streeper was just back in 1:46:12.
The rolling course is the most mellow of the seven stages mushers will take on over the following week. A brisk sun on the return, coupled with a chunked up trail from the many snowmobiles on the course, made for mushy conditions.
“The trail is always so soft, and that’s what we have to do deal with,” Malo said. “It was really nice going up to the loop, and when we came back the sun just hit the trail and it was getting soft which is harder on the dogs.”
After Streeper, Alaska’s Jeff Conn finished third (1:48:57), Canada’s Rachel Courtney fourth (1:51:40) and Bondurant’s Alix Crittenden fifth (1:52:08).
“My dogs did really, really good,” Streeper said. “I had a prefect run. The dogs look great, they’re all pulling at the leash when I try to load them after. They all drank and ate their snacks and they’re ready to go for tomorrow.”
The race continues Sunday in Pinedale. It then heads to Kemmerer, Big Piney/Marbleton, Lander, Driggs, Idaho, and finishes back in Teton County.
See more from the first half of the Pedigree Stage Stop in the Feb. 5 Jackson Hole News&Guide. For a preview of the race, click here.