"World Series Of Dog Mushing" Begins In Jackson

Jan 24, 2019

The Stage Stop Race 2018 Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Credit Chris Havener

The Pedigree Stage Stop Race starts January 25 with participants from Alaska, Canada, and Wyoming competing for cash prizes in the largest dog sled race in the lower 48. The race is hosted by small Wyoming towns like Pinedale, Kemmerer, and Big Piney.

Each musher picks a team of 10 dogs from a 14 dog pool to race 30 to 35 miles at a time.

Jerry Bath lives in Lander and will be a commentator this year. He has 22 years of dog mushing experience at the Stage Stop Race.

"This is the largest in the lower 48 by far," Bath said. "So, like the Iditarod is known as the super bowl of dog mushing the Stage Stop is known as the world series of dog mushing."

A recent addition to the Stage Stop Race is the 8 Dog Classic, where newcomers can try out dog mushing for themselves without committing to the entire 10 dog main event.

Long-distance dog mushers and short distance sprinters have to know their dogs very well.

Bath explained, "You know what dogs will run best in deep snow, what dogs will run best or worse on a hard packed trail. You try to set the dogs up for that. I used to make plans for what dogs run each day for the whole stage, and the last few years I ran I would just plan out my first day because after the first day your plan is going to be out the window anyway."

The event kicks off in Jackson where there will be a fireworks display to help celebrate the start of the race. Other towns have their own banquets and traditions - for example, Big Piney holds a potluck of Dutch oven desserts.

Bath said one of the most important parts about the race is bringing the sport to the public.

"A lot of these banquets we have are not big catered events, a lot of them are potlucks or they are put on at the senior center."

The Pedigree Stage Stop Race awards $165,000 in total making it an enticing stop in the mushing circuit.