Comm Sled dog

Brett Bruggeman, 46, of Great Falls, Montana, and his team race from the starting line in a heavy snow during the 2017 Eagle Cap Extreme 200-mile event. This year’s event is Jan. 23-26 in Wallowa County.

Wallowa County’s Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race is planning to join with two other Iditarod qualifying races in Idaho and Montana to offer the Rocky Mountain Challenge Cup.

“This means that we are recognized as a truly premier event,” said race president Randy Greenshields. “It’s really a feather in our cap.”

The Rocky Mountain Challenge Cup will award mushers who place in races in each state. There are several Iditarod qualifiers. Exactly how the various races and distances will be ranked is still under discussion.

The Eagle Cap Extreme, which is Jan 23-26, is the first race of the trio of races. The Eagle Cap Extreme 200-mile race is the Iditarod and Yukon Quest Qualifier. The Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, includes both 150-mile and 300-mile Iditarod qualifiers. The race is held outside of McCall, Idaho. Montana’s Race to the Sky, Feb. 9-13, is the last of the three and is run east of Helena. The Montana Race includes 100-mile and 300-mile Iditarod qualifiers.

The Eagle Cap Extreme is still looking for volunteers for the 2019 race. They include two cooks for the Ollokot checkpoint, several volunteers to staff the Salt Creek Summit checkpoint and a few people who are familiar with the race to help answer questions from the public and assist with educational programs at Race Central in the Joseph Community Center. Organizers also need one or two snow machines to transport dropped dogs (sore or tired dogs who are left at checkpoints) and carry supplies.

There’s plenty to do for spectators. In addition to Race Central and the Kids’ Corner, which is open daily throughout the event, people can meet mushers and the dogs during vet checks. They are held Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. on Joseph’s Main Street and at 1 p.m. on Main Street, Enterprise. In addition to meeting people and asking questions, there will be merchandise sales.

Visitors can also watch the race starts Thursday, Jan. 24 and Friday, Jan. 25 at noon at Ferguson Ridge Ski Area. Shuttles are available beginning at 9:45 a.m. The Salt Creek Summit crossing will provide up-close views Thursday, Jan. 24 between 1-3 p.m. And don’t forget race finishes daily, with times depending on the race (see the website for approximate times).

Also, the public is invited to the awards banquet and dinner Saturday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Joseph Community Center. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $12 for volunteers and $8 for kids ages 5-12. Due to limited space, advance purchases are recommended. The event will include a no-host bar.

For more information about the event, visit www.eaglecapextreme.com. To volunteer, contact Julian Pridmore-Brown at ecxops@eaglecapextreme.com or call 503-709-9109.

Tammy Malgesini, East Oregonian community editor, contributed to this story. Reach her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

Community Editor

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