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Wyoming Pedigree Stage Stop under way: French team leads the pack

A man holds a large black and white hound dog in the snow.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media

On an unseasonably warm January morning, people gathered by the Pedigree Stage Stop sled dog race finish line in the Upper Green, just north of Pinedale.

“And here he is, our current leader. Remy Coste from France. Welcome back Remy,” Dan Carter, Pedigree Stage Stop sled dog race director, announced over a microphone.

Remy Coste and his team of nine hound-looking dogs swooshed through the finish line. The tenth dog tired toward the end of the trail, so Coste put him in the sled for the remainder of the run.

“We're all very anxious to see what the times are after today's stage. So stage four, this is kind of ‘hump day,’” said Carter.

The 225-mile race is done in stages over about a week, so each day is a 30 to 35-mile stretch in a different western Wyoming or eastern Idaho community, and the daily times are added up at the end for the final places. It’s one of the harder races of its kind in the world.

Yesterday’s stage four should’ve been in Big Piney, but was moved to the Pinedale area because of a lack of snow.

Carter said the competition is stiff this year between the 15 teams.

“Like, we have mushers that went in today that are competing against each other for spots that were, I think the closest was nine seconds,” he added.

And, the fight for first place is still up in the air. It’s between French team Rene Coste and last year’s winner, Anny Malo of Quebec, Canada.

“We’re walking them and then going to let them drink and eat,” said Aurelie Delattre.

Delattre is Coste’s partner and team vet. To get here, they flew 31 dogs and shipped a giant blue bus that’s a mobile dog kennel and RV all the way from Europe. They are one of only two teams to have ever traveled from another continent in the history of the race’s 29 years.

Remy Coste finish on day four of the Pedigree Stage Stop sled dog race.

Coste is one of the best in Europe. And he’s proving himself in the states too – he’s in the lead.

“It goes very, very, very fast,” Coste said in a thick French accent about the day’s race. He spoke about the race as he diligently walked his dogs to cool them down, almost immediately after stepping off his sled. “And I catch Anny Malo very quickly.”

Malo has won the race five times consecutively, making her the musher with most consecutive wins in the race’s history – no small feat. Coste is ahead of her by about eight minutes, as of Jan. 31.

Interestingly, the two racers used different strategies the first few days. The race rules allow a pool of 16 dogs – so mushers can choose which dogs to run in their team each day. Typically, mushers will run a team of 10 or 12 dogs, so some dogs won’t always get a rest day. But, Coste chose to run a team of eight the first three days. Delattre said that’s intentional, it allows for more rest for the dogs, “that’s the idea. Because then they all have some resting time.”

Coste did bump it up to 10 dogs on the fourth race day because the conditions were more challenging.

“It was windy this morning, and because the wind, if it [the snow] got softer, it would have been quite complicated,” said Delattre, Coste's partner and team vet.

The 15 teams competed in Kemmerer, January 31, and will have a rest day, Feb. 1. The following day will be a race in Alpine, and then the final day, Saturday Feb. 3, will be in Driggs, Idaho. See the schedule here.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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